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Project Update: March Visit

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.

Michael and Elias with some students sponsored through Nemira-COMMITTED SSP.

Michael and Elias with some students sponsored through Nemira-COMMITTED SSP. (Click here for more photos.)

Sports equipment donated by Bimala.

Sports equipment donated by Bimala. (Click here for more photos.)

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!

10th graders hard at work in the Science Laboratory preparing for SLC.

10th graders hard at work in the Science Laboratory preparing for SLC. (Click here for more photos.)

10th graders hard at work preparing for SLC in one of the primary classrooms. Notice the bedding (mattress etc.) in the background.

10th graders hard at work preparing for SLC in one of the primary (elementary) classrooms. Notice the bedding (mattress etc.) in the background. (Click here for more photos.)

Fuel (on the left) and kitchen, in between the two buildings (just to the right of the tree trunk) for the temporary boarders--10th graders preparing for SLC.

Fuel (on the left) and kitchen, in between the two buildings (just to the right of the tree trunk) for the temporary boarders–10th graders preparing for SLC. (Click here for more photos.)

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 is what the builiding looked like in early February.

This is what the building looked like back in early February. (Click here for more photos.)

The building as it looked in this time around.

The building as it looked this time around. (Click here for more photos.)

In the mean time, relieving congestion in the class room means studying outside!

In the mean time, relieving congestion in classrooms meant studying outside! (Click here for more photos.)

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!

Kumar sir preparing the "Thangpalkot specialty."

Kumar sir preparing the “Thangpalkot Specialty.”

The "Thangpakot specially" being deep fried while our mouths watered!

The “Thangpalkot Specialty” being deep-fried while our mouths watered!

The "Thangpakot specially" all ready to be enjoyed with a beverage or two of ones choice!

The “Thangpalkot specially” all ready for consumption with a beverage or two of ones choice!

Raithane school and parts of beautiful Thangpalkot village from above.

Raithane school and parts of the beautiful village of Thangpalkot as seen from the top of the hill  overlooking it. (The school is right next to the small pond.)

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!

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About me..in short

I am a Tibetan-Buddhist, one-time International Chemistry/Science teacher with a Jesuit education in a Hindu country (Nepal), an international education in a catholic country (Italy), a liberal arts education in the bastion of freedom and democracy (the US), with teacher-training down under (Australia), but whose choice of musical instrument is Australian (the Didjeridoo), choice of sports is American (Ultimate Frisbee), choice of dance genre is Latin American (Merengue and Salsa), and yet, still has faith in the permanence and power of change!

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CONTACT: Email Dorje Gurung