When we talk about partnership we mean it!

By Sallie Grayson. Filed in good and bad practice, project news  |  
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Hari-volunteer co-ordinator

A recent letter from our local partners in Pokhara demonstrates better than I ever could what we mean when we say that we don’t work without informed consent!

Dear Volunteers all,
First, a very Happy Easter to you all and a big thank you for the enormous effort, support, and unwavering enthusiasm that you all applied in our first volunteering season.
It was a learning process for everyone and I feel we have gained a valuable insight into what works well…and what less well! To those who faced some of the “less well” situations – my apologies and sincere thanks for your forbearance.
Hari has grown into his role as coordinator – a big step for him taking this on just as the first volunteers got underway – as a result of Sanu’s luck in obtaining a “green card” for Canada. This was another lesson for me – always have a backup plan! Hari has just come from a good meeting at the school where we have imposed a new rule – no teacher, no volunteer…as we all agree that the primary role of our volunteers is to partner / mentor with the teachers – not to become supply teachers substituting for the regular staff. I am sorry that you all had to face more of the latter than is acceptable – but I feel the slow and steady approach will enable the understanding to bed in better than a more draconian / histrionic style! I believe they are seeing the light on this. At the meeting one of the key points from the teachers’ side was can volunteers stay longer – proof that you all were well received and respected both for your experience and for your commitment – another hurrah and many thanks to you all. All the teachers saw improvement in themselves and their colleagues as a result of your work. This break over the summer has also proved useful to take a step back and review the first phase before moving ahead after the monsoon.
Pack for a Purpose (www.packforapurpose.org) – we have linked with this innovative scheme asking visitors to remove a little clothing and replace it with items needed for the community. I would be very happy if you would spare a moment and suggest any suitable items that might help future volunteers – to date we have received some school books (including a fine Collins Atlas) for the library, craft materials, pens, notepads, geometry sets, etc. Your guidance as to what we should emphasise would be a great help.
Finally, an update on your generous project support:
The whiteboards are all in place and, apart from some problems of board-writers drying out too fast, they are a great success. Those that were sub-standard have been replaced. Re-vitalising the Primary School is being initiated with a phased plan for electrification, re-painting and purchase of small tables and stools to replace the benches – to enable small groups to work together. We are at the feasibility and estimates stage – and will provide more news as this moves ahead – including some pictures once there is light and colour to be seen!
A big, big thank you from the school, community and all of us.
Marcus, Hari, Jhalak, Ishwar and all at Amar Jyoti / Kandani Danda

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