We went to visit a school situated high in the hills in a very remote location. My colleague Anzu and I were pleased to arrive there after three bus rides, an overnight stay and then about three hours walk the following morning. The headteacher had sent someone to lead us the last part of the walk, over the ridge to reach the school, set on the steep hillside above the village of Ghamrang.
The plan was to bring a party of teachers, one from each of the schools in the Sisters for Sisters project in Lamjung, on a visit to the school a few days later. We went early to see the situation at the school, and if the good work we had been told about had been sustained recently. The school had been part of a 'Global Action Nepal' project to improve the teaching of English a few years before, and the teachers had been given training and encouragement to teach lessons with active student participation.
|Science lesson making circuits for Class 6|
On arrival we were given a warm welcome and the staff were keen to know about our project and the purpose of the forthcoming visit by the teachers from our Sisters for Sisters schools. Then, having watched some excellent lessons that afternoon, I was very happy to confirm the visit and draw up a timetable for the day.
|English lesson with class 4|
|Full attention for class 8 in their lesson outside on the grass.|
At this time of the year it is cold inside the classrooms;
so much warmer to sit in the sun!
After school we walked down the steep steps leading to the village, accompanied by many of the teachers and students. They were all keen to talk to us and point things out; the health centre, tomatoes growing under frames, cardamom plants growing as a crop and the hostel for weekly boarding students whose homes are too far away. The village, a collection of stone and wooden houses, many with corrugated iron roofs, seemed to cling to the steep hillside, with the path of stone steps running down through the centre.
We were welcomed into the headteachers house and shown our room. We later discovered that his wife’s teenage brother had to sleep on the floor by the fire, as we had stolen his bedroom! We were treated as special guests, and many villagers popped in just to see us and say ‘hello’.
There was a welcome party for a returning family member taking place nearby, with music and dancing and we were invited to watch the dancing. The village people belong to the Gurung ethnic group, and the dancing and singing was part of their tradition, along with the colourful clothes that the dancers were wearing. The drummers and singers, all men, were sitting behind the dancing women. Again we were honoured guests, given white rice tikka and silk scarves and later a plate of sel roti (a circle of bread deep fried and crisp) to eat. What lovely people!
Sunrise the following morning was special, seeing light gradually show up the layers of hills stretching into the far distance to the south and watching the tips of the Annapurna peaks across the valley to the north suddenly catch the sun, turn golden and then sparkling white.
|Looking south over ridges of hills getting fainter into|
|Sunrise lightening the snow covered tops|
|Looking north to the Annapurna peaks.|
What a cheery sight our host's daughter was, as she ate her daal bhat before getting ready for school.
The visiting teachers were also served with daal bhat, all cooked over a single fire by the headteacher's wife. I would have worried about cooking for 20 people on my hob at home, but she managed magnificently. As so many people would not have fitted into their house, we sat on straw mats in the stone courtyard in front of the house to eat our breakfast.
That morning at the school the visiting teachers were very impressed by what they saw. They asked questions, made notes and diagrams and took many photos. How good it will be to see some of the things they liked implemented in their own schools when I next visit!
Sadly, we needed to leave just after midday for the long jeep ride back to Besisahar. However we couldn't leave before receiving beautiful flower garlands from the students, and then had to have our photos taken with them, of course. It had been a memorable visit for everyone.
Thank you so much to the staff at Ghamrang School for making our visit such a success, and for the kind welcome we had from everyone in the village.