We took a bus all the way from Kathmandu to the village and back–a first for me!
The ride the morning of Nov. 17 was uneventful, except for once when the bus struggled to go over an uneven area on an incline (see photo above).
We had a number of things to do this time: complete construction of the multipurpose court at Raithane School, hold tennis and basketball drills, harvest fish from three ponds, touch base with the fishermen, meet with the Fishery User Group, meet with Raithane School SMC (School Management Committee) and the SMC’s of a number of other schools in the region etc.
At Raithane, the mid-court basketball backboards and the tennis poles needed fixing. The work completed, Jayjeev, the Executive Director of COMMITTED, engaged the students in tennis and basketball drills. We even had a game of basketball between Team Jayjeev and Team Dorje!
Doug Grant of The Tennis Trekker made tennis on the multipurpose court possible. He not only travelled all the way to the village last August to hold a tennis camp for Raithane and Taltuleshwori School children, but also made a generous donation of a the net. Kasthamandap Vidyalaya (through Anuja Hada), Kabita Lissanevitch, JTI-ANLTA, Sunit Giri and Shailendra Dhakhwa contributed to the program wit rackets, balls, bags etc.
Once again, on COMMITTED’s behalf, I would like to thank Doug and Devika for their time and generosity, and Kasthamandap Vidyalaya, Kabit Lissanevitch, JTI-ANTLTA, Sunit Giri and Shailendra Dhakhwa for their contribution.
We carried out fish harvesting at three ponds: Bir Bahadur’s, Bhutte Pokhari–pond associated with Chilaune School–and Raithane School pond. Following the harvest, Bir Bahadur was able to make an immediate sale–his first!–to a fellow villager!
Madhabji, our fishery expert, caught up with all the fishermen. We were also able to have longer discussions on issues faced by them etc. at the Fishery User Group meeting. We discovered, in the meeting, that the villagers were keenly following the progress of the Social Business and a few more were keen to undertake the venture.
The meeting with Raithane School SMC was another routine meeting to share and exchange information.
We met with the rest of the SMC’s to again share information about our Social Business for Education (SBE) project–the fishery–and to gauge their interest in the venture.
COMMITTED hopes to expand our programs into other VDC’s and schools in the surrounding area. While so far we have worked mostly with Raithane School, and recently have increased our support to four other schools in the area, we are keen to assist other schools in the vicinity.
But sadly, while our assistance to the schools, whether it be building a library or a science lab or a multipurpose court or constructing a building or addressing WASH issues or providing sponsorship or setting up SBE projects, two problems remain: firstly, that of raising the quality of teaching and thus the quality of education at the schools, and, secondly, regional infrastructure.
The chronic problem of getting motivated, driven and qualified teachers to the countryside, or others to volunteer their time in the village to train the local teachers, remains a major challenge.
As for infrastructure, while buses do run between the nearest town of Melamchi and Thangpalkot, the pitiful state of the road means that major parts of it is in a perpetual state of disrepair. Whats more, every year, monsoon wreaks havoc on it shutting it down.
If it’s not the landslides covering parts of the roads, then it’s the gaping holes left behind by parts washed away or it’s the swollen rivers causing it to shut down. Though it was five years ago that the government came into the area with grand plans to build and complete it within two years, of the over half a dozen bridges from Melamchi to Thangpalkot, not a single one is complete! Not a single one!
A bus all the way to the village, as uncomfortable and even scary as it can be some times, it is still a luxury at other times…for some (see below) considerably more than for others!
NB: This post has been updated with details of other contributors to the tennis program at Raithane School. In the original version, only Doug and Devika Grant were listed as the benefactors. As you can see now, a number of other individuals and organizations are also recognized. My sincere apology for the omission.