Sunday, 20 April 2014

Village visit

Some people following this blog have commented that I don't seem to be doing any work and that I'm having a great holiday!  Let me assure you that I am working hard too. In Lamjung District I am working with 12 rural schools, and to visit each of these for just one day takes a month of work.  The closest school is one hours walk to reach from Besisahar where I live. Quite a few involve a bus ride and then a long walk and some of the schools are more difficult to reach and so involve one or two nights staying in the village nearby. The furthest involves a five hour bus ride and then three hours walking.
This post describes my visit to one of the more remote schools.

The village concerned is perched on a ridge high above Besisahar. There is a bus there once each day, travelling up a steep narrow bumpy track, but on this occasion we actually took a jeep ride there and then walked back after work the following day - downhill, with interesting views.
The road snaking up the steep hillside. Besisahar is just in view in
the valley bottom.
Looking over the village with the Annapurna Mountains in the distance.

Our overnight accommodation was quite basic, we slept in the female room containing just beds. We ate at the lodge too, daal bhat (rice and lentils with vegetable curry) for breakfast and supper.

The next morning before school, we took a walk with the Headteacher to visit the next village, where many of the school's pupils live. Useful, as part of my work involves putting together a profile of each school community, e.g. Does the community have a health centre, electricity, running water, what type of houses are there, are there shops etc.
As school doesn't start until 10am many pupils were outside doing chores or just playing. 

However we found one group sat with their school books in the sun, revising for one of the end of year exams that they would sit later that morning. These exams are very important - if the pupil does not pass, he or she must remain in the class for another year and not move up to the next one.
Revision in the sunshine
We visited the house of one of the teachers, where we drank tea and had a long talk about the crops they were growing and the bees they kept. We were treated to a saucer of new honey, just taken from the comb, with small pieces of wax in it.  The kitchen had shelves full of gleaming metal pots and plates on display. Notice too the small stools.

There were several interesting things that we saw around the village;
Corn cobs stored above ground in a circular stack.
Bunches of herbs tied to the side posts, and firewood bundles
nearby to be stored for later use. They will have been brought
down from the hillside, carried on someones back.
These bundles are heavy!

Young buffalo calf in the shed
Firewood stacked in bundles at the side of the track,
to be transported to Besisahar, perhaps on the top of
the next bus.

Woman weaving a straw mat outside her house. She was surprised that
 I wanted to photograph her working.

Later in the morning at the school, I worked in the library with the Headteacher, discussing how I would help the teachers at the school to adopt more child-friendly methods of teaching.

Meanwhile, friend Helen sat under a tree talking to a group of girls who were waiting to take their exams. They were very pleased to have a chance to practice their spoken English.

This school is better resourced than many that I am working with.  It was interesting to see Nepali books and jigsaw puzzles in the library, similar to some of the resources found in schools in the UK.
Wooden puzzle of Nepali letters

World atlas
Abacus for maths work

One of the mottos painted on the school wall inspired me. "World change starts with educated children."

I hope that during my time in Nepal I can help bring change through education to a few children in the Lamjung District.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

There and back again.

My friend Helen and I had 10 days of hard walking, leading us right up into the Annapurna Sanctuary and then back.  We had about 8 days when we were too remote and high for wheeled vehicles, so unusually quiet. This blog page gives a small taste of some of the sights we experienced during our fabulous trek.

The first day was very steeply uphill, out of the valley pictured
above. Hard work and hot, and I had a stomach upset too!

Breakfast with a view, day 2

Didi's shop in Landruck, which sold almost everything a
trekker could want; beer, coke, toilet rolls, snickers bars etc.

Our lovely guide and porter, Bhima and Kalpana outside Captain
Laliguran's guest house in Landruck. Early morning day 3

Homework time - English homework being done in the early morning before school.

Would you trust this bridge?? We did!

Lodges for trekkers at Bamboo. It snowed heavily during
the night whilst we stayed here on day 5.

Chomrong village where we stayed on day 3 and 9, perched above the cliff.
This was the area featured in the documentary film
"The Honey Hunters of Nepal"
Steps - over 3000 from the valley bottom to our lodge in Chomrong!

This dog adopted us for three days,
sleeping on our doorstep and following us right
 up to Annapurna Base Camp. We did feed it!
Washing on the line at Annapurna Base Camp.
Traditional beehives fascinated Helen, a bee keeper herself

The lush Bamboo forest, with the path winding through it.

One of the frequent buffalo we met on the path.

Beautiful orchids growing on a rock face.
Ghandruk, a traditional Gurung village where
we stayed on day 10.
Looking back up at the peak of Machhepulchhre from lower down the valley, on the way back.