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Project Update: Reading in Thangpalkot

Late afternoon of February 5, the biggest group to visit the project site since my joining COMMITTED arrived at Thangpalkot, some members arriving earlier than others. Those arriving early had had the luxury of being transported all the way by a 4X4 Toyota Landcruiser! I, on the other hand, was one of those that walked the latter half of the journey accompanying a friend of a friend from my UWCAD days.

We had a lot to cover in the five-day visit. We had much work to be completed on the Fishery. We had the setting up and  inauguration of another library to attend to. We also had to oversee functions recognizing the most avid library-book readers at the schools in the VDC. I also had meetings with newly established Sponsorship Program Coordination Committee (SPCC) to tend to along with my usual task of catching up with the sponsored children etc.

* * * * * * * *

The following day, February 6, while Jayjeev and others attended to Fishery-related work, I, along with a couple of others, busied ourselves going from one school to another attending the Star Reader recognition functions.

The Star Reader Program encourages children in the VDC to read. At the functions, the children who read the most books in their class and the most voracious boy and girl readers in the whole school were rewarded with prizes…of books.

With generous support mostly from Sieun “Alice” Park and her family, COMMITTED helped build libraries in all four schools within the legal boundaries of Thangpalkot VDC. 

By all accounts, the libraries are very popular! The sheer number of names in the check-out register was another evidence of their popularity. At the primary (elementary) school of Taltuleswory, the small library is so popular that, not having enough books and the library itself being small, they have had to set aside a different day of the week for each class to check-out books instead of keeping it open for all the students everyday!

The first function that morning, was at Chilaune School.

Chilaune school students at the function.

Chilaune school students at the function. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

One of the star readers of Chilaune school receiving his prize from Sieun "Alice" Park.

One of the star readers of Chilaune school receiving his prize from Sieun “Alice” Park. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

Chilaune school star readers going through their prizes.

Chilaune school star readers going through their prizes. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

Chilaune school star readers posing for a group photo.

Chilaune school star readers posing for a group photo. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

Then it was the small primary (elementary) school of Kumveshwori. The generally festive mood of the function was dampened a bit by the discovery that Muskaan, the 12-year old child who had read the most books in the school, had only recently been sent to Delhi to work (about which I made a brief mention in the Stop Child Trafficking campaign page).

Kumveshwori school library

Kumveshwori school library. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

Kumveshwori students at the function.

Kumveshwori students at the function. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

Muskaan's brother with Alice.

Muskaan’s brother with Alice. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

Khumveshwori Star Readers with their prizes posing for a group photo.

Khumveshwori Star Readers with their prizes posing for a group photo in the Library. (Click on the image for the original. Click here for more photos.)

Then it was to the other primary (elementary) school of Taltuleshwory.

Taltuleshwori school students at the funcation.

Taltuleshwory school students at the function. (Click here for more photos.)

Taltuleshwori School star readers with their prizes posing for a group photo.

Taltuleshwory School star readers with their prizes posing for a group photo. (Click here for more photos.)

On February 7, we started at the primary (elementary) school of Saat Kanya, a very small school just outside Thangpalkot VDC boundary. With left-over library funds, COMMITTED helped them put together a small one of their own.

Saatkanya Prathamik Bidhyalaya.

Saatkanya Prathamik Bidhyalaya. (Saatkanya Primary School. Click here for more photos.)

Saatkanya Prathamik Bidhyalaya

Saatkanya Prathamik Bidhyalaya. (Saatkanya Primary School. Click here for more photos.)

Saat Kanya school library.

Saat Kanya school library. (Click here for more photos.)

Saat Kanya students & siblings.

Saat Kanya students & siblings. Some of the students–themselves no more than 6–are entrusted with baby-sitting their younger siblings while the older members of the family go off to work in the fields or elsewhere. The young students bring their sibling along as the other option is to stay at home and miss out on school.

Saat Kanya library inauguration by Alice.

Alice inaugurating the Saat Kanya library by cutting the ribbon. (Click here for more photos.)

Then it was to Raithane School for their function.

Raithane School Star Readers.

Raithane School Star Readers. Two of the students Navraj Basnet (front row, third from left) and Savita Gole (second row, first from left) are two of the students whose educational expenses are sponsored by friends and others. The two are also the most voracious readers in the school! (Click here for more photos.)

If there is any observation to be made here, it is that children everywhere, if given the opportunity to learn, to widen their horizons, to test and cultivate their imagination, they will! But, sadly, for most students in Nepal, attending under-funded and under-resourced government schools, that opportunity to avail themselves of the simple pleasure of reading is an incredible luxury. And yet, in a country like ours, it has the potential to change lives–it certainly changed mine.

One hopes it’s also changing the lives of the children of Thangpalkot…one can always hope!

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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