This visit–from March 11 to 14–also promised to be a busy one like the last one!
We had our friends Michael and Elias, the Swiss duo responsible for the Nemira-COMMITTED Student Sponsorship Program, visiting. Curious how the program was progressing, they made the long and arduous journey to Thangpalkot in a Landcruiser, for Elias’ benefit. Once in the village, they met with the sponsored students and their families to find out how they were all faring etc.
In addition to passengers, the vehicle also transported some sport equipment for the children of Raithane School. The equipments were donated by Bimala, the same Bimala spearheading the Run…to Stop Child Trafficking campaign. Since Higher Ground–of which she is the managing director–first assisted us with our efforts to raise funds for Bisnhu and her siblings’ education, she has continuously supported us in our efforts to educate rural children of Nepal. She followed that up with a contribution towards awareness and fundraising campaign We’re COMMITTED. COMMITTED family is very grateful for all her contributions. Her sister Rekha was on hand to hand-over the equipment to the school staff.
During this visit, as on other visits, I was told about students that had stopped coming to school. Also, as on other trips to the village, I visited those students and their families to learn more about their situation and to determine if COMMITTED could/should intervene/help.
Children in villages stop coming to school for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s because their family has fallen on hard times and cannot cover the basic expenses. Sometimes it’s because she is a required-hand at home–as a babysitter for instance. Sometimes because the parents decide to put her to work to supplement their income. Sometimes a student stops coming to school because of domestic problems. In other words, most of the time the reason is directly or indirectly related to poverty.
This time around, the issue with one of the students was his domestic situation. The issue with another student, Muskaan, was that her mother had sent her to Delhi to work. The issue with yet another was that she had quit school and was waiting to go to Delhi as well. (The stories of the two girls will be the subject of another post.)
At the school, the tenth graders were hard at work, revising and preparing for their national level, high school diploma examinations–School Leaving Certificate (SLC). The school had arranged for them to room and board on campus! The school has build a small make-shift kitchen on the premises. A few teachers had volunteered to supervise them throughout their stay–both during the day and at night. In spite of all the odds stacked against them, I am always impressed by the dedication of our children to get through what in Nepal is referred to as the “iron gate.” Sadly though, about three-quarters of all SLC candidates from government schools fail the examination!
While the 1oth graders appeared hard at work studying, the workers on the construction site were also hard at work constructing the two new buildings!
This visit wasn’t all work however. As has now become a tradition, one of the afternoons we went fishing in the pond and had a fantastic fish dish that evening, thanks to Kumar Sir and the local “fishermen”–Ram Sir etc. I rarely have much luck catching any of the buggers! And it’s not for lack of trying!
This time around, I was lucky to also have had the time to explore a little of the surrounding areas, something I had wanted to do for a long time. A couple of us climbed up the hill overlooking the school and village to take in the beauty of the area. Thangpalkot and the surrounding areas, like all other hill areas in Nepal, many of which I have visited, is spectacular in natural beauty, as, I am sure you can tell from the photo above.
What’s more, returning from the village, on foot, until Melamchi, we even managed to take a dip in the cold and extremely refreshing waters of Indrawati river!
All in all, it was another fruitful and pleasant visit!