After three failed attempts to visit, (no bus, jeep full, jeep broke down on way), our fourth attempt to get to the school was successful. We travelled by jeep, 12 people squashed in like sardines, for two hours up a steep unmade mountain track. At times the track was very exposed, with a huge drop down the mountainside; if the vehicle skidded there was no barrier to stop us rolling down the steep slope. I couldn't stop myself from watching the road and the verge in horror.
|Classrooms with the mountains as a backdrop.|
There were other western visitors at the school that day; some teachers and pupils from the British partner school had arrived and a special welcome ceremony had been prepared for us all.
Firstly speeches and flower garlands; then beautiful young girls dressed in the clothes of their local ethnic group, performed traditional dances of greeting. They danced barefoot on the hard earth in front of the classrooms, with the school pupils and some women from the community sitting on the ground watching the performance. We, as visitors sat on chairs.
As we needed to stay in the village overnight, and catch the early morning bus back to Besisahar, I was able to explore after school finished. Lots of traditionally designed houses, many painted blue and a terracotta colour made from the local clay. Interestingly, many roofs had small solar panels to supply electricity. The street through the village was laid with stone cobbles, and was narrow so no motorised traffic could pass through.
This village was tidy and well ordered, with toilets and washing area for all to use. That afternoon there had been a mother and baby health clinic in the village, and it was very encouraging to listen to some of the young mums and hear how important they considered education will be to their growing children.
The small hill, just above the village gave the most splendid views of the mountains, so I loitered around there watching, as the sun set. The photos I have included don’t really do justice to the breath taking panorama of the mountains and the sky as the sun dropped below the horizon. It was a “good to be alive" moment!!
Early the following morning I was again to be found climbing the hill, determined to watch the sun rise. I wasn’t disappointed! How exciting to witness such a beautiful start to the day from this place.
|Annapurna catching the rising sun.|
The school has a hostel attached, so that students living a long way away can board there on a weekly basis, returning home at weekends. At 6.30am I was surprised to see a stream of teenagers leaving the hostel and arriving at school for the coaching session, taught by the Headteacher, which started at 7am. The date of the School Leaving Certificate is approaching, a government test taken by all, and these young people need to pass this exam in order to continue their education.
I paused to wonder how many teenagers from the UK would get up so early for coaching.