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Kids At School In Nepal
KIDS AT SCHOOL IN NEPAL
At our Annual Meeting in Liverpool one of the motions was for us to donate £500 to a charity called Kids At School In Nepal. The person who raised the motion was Arthur Benbow who many of you have no doubt met at previous Annual Meetings.Arthur has very kindly done a little report about the charity and passed the details on to us for it to be displayed on this site.Following months of planning, correspondence, a change of name with the Charity Commission, and finally a change of Bank.So began our support for Kids at School in Nepal with the transfer of £2000 (218,000 Nepal Rupees) to a Bank in Kathmandu on 19th October 2010, and my departure for Nepal two days later.On 22nd October I was admitted into Nepal as a visitor for the next 28 days, after a payment of $40 and completion of the usual visa application.On 30th October I was joined by 3 friends from the USA with whom I completed the 14 day (114kms) trek to Everest base camp, BUT that will be another story, which can be seen on www.kidsatschoolnepal.co.ukMy immediatet concern was the 4 day itenerary kindly prepared by our good friend Joyti, Team Leader/ Director at Eco Trek. The object of these 4 days was to investigate and report back to our Trustees/donors on the educational problems at the scattered village of Phulkharha which is 124 kms north east of Kathmandu. Following a meeting at the Hotel Holy Himalaya in Kathmandu I was introduced to my 3 companions, all of whom had been born and raised in the village concerned. They are 23 years old Santosh Adhikari, a 23 year old medical student. Another 23 year old Rajesh Bhattarai, one of the staff from Eco Trek. Both of these lads were born and educated at the village of Phulkharkha. Then our cook and an old hand with Eco Trek who is known to many UK trekkers as Buddhi Adhikari.The reason for the visit was to establish what help was needed to improve educational facilties for the many children in this region. The beautiful village of Phulkharka is situated on the laps of Manasula, Ganga-Jamuna and Gamesh Himal. In Nepali phul means flower and like its name the village region is the garden of many ethnic groups from Hindu, Buddist, Christian and Muslim all leading a happy but very basic life in this very remote and beautiful village. The north side of the village is between 1600 to 2926 metres above sea level and has around 1000 homes with another 14 sub villages to Phulkharka.The friendly people in this region are not afraid of hard work from sunrise to sunset 7 days a week. They are not influenced by any political parties, gender, colour or race: there is united effort for the sustainable development of the village to improve their lifestyle. Whilst the history of the region has a military background going back to ancient periods, the community welcomes the changes introduced in recent years.Whilst the main source of income is from the land and farming many residents have now found work in tourism, banking, law, the health sector, police and teaching. It is the profession of teaching we consider is important for the future of Nepal and the younger generation of this beautiful country.The village covers a large area with a population in excess of 7000 it is scattered in a remote mountain region and as yet is NOT on the normal trekking/ tourist route. So tea houses or restaurants are not available. The route from Kathmandu is around 7 hours by road and 40% of that is on very rough mountain roads which will slow speed down at times to less than 20kms an hour. Then the final stage of the journey is a 4 hours trek, and all in one day I am told!!! So I could see that the return trip was going to eat into the time available.A solution is put forward by the enterprising Jyoti who had a proposal to get me and my companions to the village in less than 30 minutes. That I said sounds interesting what is the catch? And cost? It was no catch just a helicopter "if one is available" said Jyoti, so having been given the cost and after much consideration I accepted the offer and made the choice that the cost of this would be my personal contribution to kids at school in Nepal.At 10.30am the next day we assembled at the domestic terminal of Kathmandu airport. After a swift security check in we were driven to our waiting helicopter and within minutes our flight took off to the mountain village of Fulkharha. It was my third helicopter trip and is one of the best ways to see Nepal from the air, but never before had I experienced such a reception and was not expecting such a large crowd to welcome our arrival.The only place the helicopter could land was a 50 minute walk from the village and nearest school. As we alighted from the helicopter I was welcomed to a musical reception, many village elders, teaching staff, parents and many, many children.Following many introductions we made our way (to music) up the hill to the village and the first school where another reception was waiting. The first school on my arrival known as Shree Mandali Higher Secondary school.With 1200 students from ages 5 to 19, there are 21 teaching staff which is an average of 57 children to each class. The only financial support for the school is that 14 teachers salaries are paid by the government and rest is met by the community. The basic salary for a primary school teacher here is £106 per month and for Secondary school teachers of which there are 2 grades at £137 and £183 per month. There has in the past been some support from a Japanese charity group which has gone into the buildings.Many students have a 2 to 3 hours walk before school starts and for the higher class students that is from 6am to 9.45am. I enquired what happens to these students for the rest of the day. I was informed that many of them make for home where they have to work in the fields in addition to any home work they may have. The junior class from age 5 their classes run from 10am to 4pm.There are a total of 6 schools I am due to visit over the next 3 days all within a 1 to 3 hour trek. There is NO electricity available at any school so a computer would be a luxury for the future. Following numerous speeches to the assembled crowd of parents and children I was asked to present scholarships to a number of students.Myself and 2 companions were housed for the 3 nights in a brick building near the helicopter landing spot. It was basic to say the least, with no electricity or running water. However we were not left wanting for food or an early morning cup of tea thanks to Buddhi Adhikari. I had no problem sleeping after 2 to 4 hours trekking each day plus a reception at each school we visited.There was sadly a disruption on the second day when 2 schools had to be closed for the day; it appeared that one male teacher had been killed in a road accident on the day of my arrival. The teacher left a wife (also a teacher) and 3 children. I left a sum of money for this family to be paid over the next 12 months. It is a sad fact of life in Nepal once you leave Kathmandu the standard of driving, the road conditions and state of many vehicles are far from satisfactory, plus many inexperienced and young drivers. Arising from all that insurance is non-existent.I was impressed with the enthusiam of all children and staff, but sadly the conditions under which they work is sadly lacking by UK standards. There is no electricity, running water is limited and toilet facilities are even more limited, particularly at the smaller schools where classrooms are subject to flooding during the monsoon period.A Big Thank You to everybody at the meeting who voted for us to receive the £500 donation.Arthur BenbowEdtors NotesAnybody requiring further details and/or wishing to make a donation can use the contact screen and your details will be passed on to Arthur.Arthur has written a special message for this website and here it is:- Kids at School in Nepal Registered charity number 111161On behalf of the Trustees of this Charity I extend our sincere thanks for the generous donation of £500 from the Royal Liver Superannuitants Association agreed at the annual meeting on 12th April, 2011.I was personally in Nepal for 6 weeks last October / November to investigate and report back to the Trustees on the problems affecting education in a remote region north east of Kathmandu. A sum in excess of £3000 was allocated during my visit to 4 schools in that region and copy of my report is now on this website. I will be making a return visit in November this year (2011) along with 2 of our Trustees when we will allocate in excess of another £3000 for improvements to the schools in question.This has been noted on our website www.kidsatschoolnepal.co.uk and we are exploring the possibility of a half yearly newsletter to all our donors in which case you will be kept informed. We have noted with thanks a mutual link to our respective websites.Many thanks again and we hope that the Royal Liver Superannuitants will follow and support our future efforts.Yours sincerelyArthur Benbow.Hon. Sec
Royal Liver Superannuitants Association