Uttam & Bipin of Socialtours
A dollar a month, for school fees, is a huge sacrifice for many of these parents. Uttam has told me that about half the pupils cannot afford the fees. While I was there, nearly two months ago, the Prime Minister had resigned and there were some disruptions to traffic, power supply etc. However people were going about their business as usual. The recession has certainly affected the tourist trade. I was able to bring two cases of new books for the library. Books are useless unless they are used. There is a preservation order on books here. I feel that good quality second hand books should be donated and a culture of using them effectively encouraged. Stealing books is an inconvenience and an embarrassment for the school. I remember that a considerable amount of legal books were stolen from a library that I worked in and that the perpetrators were top lawyers and judges of the country!
The availability of drinkable water was probably the most beneficial contribution that evolved from the monies donated from the group of volunteers that were there in 2008. I did not smell that awful pong from the toilet block this time. This is surely great progress, although it was low down the list of priorities of the Nepali teachers. They seemed indifferent to the noxious scent that permeated the air. It was nevertheless a joy and a privilege to walk again amongst these lovely people and to scatter a few words of appreciation.
Normally, I do not like to return to a place because I am fearful of getting more disillusioned. I am delighted to say that I was amazed at the “small” improvements that were made by Socialtours, Uttam, staff, pupils and the volunteers. There are huge educational needs in Nepal. There are no hand-outs in this society. Uttam claims that he is dealing with 18,000 pupils but I feel that this is a figure on a register as many of the children are not attending school regularly. The curriculum and the huge numbers in the classes should be looked at national level. Information Technology is vital. The painting and maintenance of the school is desirable. Constant repairs of broken paving bricks and giving the necessary lick of paint costs money. It would be better that it was tackled than left undone. The litter collection will always be a battle but what an improvement from 2008.
After spending a year teaching at the SISU University, Chongqing, I have got some insight into the resilience of the Eastern cultures. Lao Tzu states “Those who know cannot speak. Those who speak do not know.” Another piece of advice that I found helpful was; “Our first task in approaching another people, another culture is to take off our shoes for the place we are approaching is holy, else we may find ourselves treading on another’s dreams.”
volunteer in 2008 back to visit in 2010