Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Storms, computers and head teachers....

After our visit to Bagnas, our next school was Bhalebas Bhagwati. Torrential rain and strong wind the night before we set off made the journey difficult, and played havoc with the electricity both in Tansen and the village. After a 4x4 experience that people would pay good money for in the UK, we arrived at the school. The rain did not dampen the warm and enthusiastic welcome we received from the staff. Sadly, the weather meant the children were only able to spend an hour in school so we’d have to wait a day to do some teaching. We were delighted to discover that the school has recently obtained 5 brand new desktop computers, due to a tremendous fund raising effort by the village committee and some funds from the government. We added to these 3 laptops, generously donated by a school in Dinnington, to make a real PC suite. We spent some time in the afternoon training the school staff and excited village committee on the laptops, although the power cuts meant this could only last as long as the batteries. We enjoyed the village’s hospitality in the evening, and I got my first taste of the locally brewed ‘raksi’, a rather tasty spirit made from rice.

By morning the weather had improved greatly and we were able to get about to some teaching! Barbara spent most of the day teaching English while I took groups from years 6, 7 and 8 to the ICT room (with the electricity mostly working once again!) For many of the children this was the first time they had ever actually used a computer so we focused on getting them familiar with the keyboard and mouse. The children really enjoyed the practical and hands on nature of the work and there were lots of smiles and laughter. There is plenty to build upon when I go back, with a talented young ICT teacher in place at the school already, so I finished the day feeling very excited about the possibilities here.

Another 4x4 experience took us to Navadurga Pipaldanda, where Manisha UK have been supporting an extensive rebuild of the school. The work carried out is very encouraging and should be completed in plenty of time for me to see it finished before leaving Nepal. The ground floor classrooms are mostly complete and plaster was going up in one of the second floor rooms. After a tour of the school we were invited to ‘puja’ (prayers) by some of the villages and given a delicious meal cooked in massive communal pots, and meat placed straight on the flyer. Remembering the balloons in my bag suddenly made me very popular with the children and it really was a great experience. That evening we said goodbye to Bhuwan, who returned to Kathmandu. His help both in Kathmandu and the schools was hugely valued and he’s very much missed, although there is no shortage of support from Saran, Sagar and a host of others.

Around this time we started to hear the news of the terrible events unfolding in Annapurna, which left a number of Nepalese and foreigners dead and injured. From Tansen we can see a little of the mountain range in which these terrible scenes unfolded and my thoughts have very much been with those affected.

Finally this week we held our first training day, to which we invited our head teachers and their deputies. We had a great turn out and everyone was really enthusiastic about the ideas we shared for planning. There are some wonderful leaders and teachers here and through sharing their ideas we hope they’ll be able to improve their planning and move their schools forward even more than they currently are. I was so encouraged to hear today that one school arranged a meeting with the village council straight after our training to discuss their action plan for the next months, showing they’d really taken on board everything we’d done.

We are now starting the Tihar festival here meaning schools will be closed for a few days, but we’re keeping busy with photocopying, planning and preparing resources, although not so busy that we won’t enjoy another fantastic cultural experience!

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