Below are the pictures of most of this school year’s children ranging from age 3-10 years old.
After my night in the village and eating morning dal bhat at Kishan’s house, we held the meeting about the Health and Nanglo cooperatives at the school. Bikram came from Bandipur to join Kishan and me. Only some of the villagers came, which was expected because of the festive period and the marriage celebrations, though more turned up later in the morning.
But before the meeting went ahead, some of the school’s children came and sang the traditional Nepal song ‘Resham Firiri’ to us, and some danced too, while Kumar, the school’s caretaker, played the madal (a traditional Nepali instrument).
It seemed to go well, though much debating did occur and many questions asked. It seemed as though the Nanglo cooperative, which would help the Aandhimul people generate more income from selling their nanglos, had positive reactions. But it was the details that they were unsure of, and as none or only some had experience of how a cooperative works, it would take quite a lot of work to set one up. Bikram said that he would do his best with the experience he has working in a cooperative and help the community.
Another issue raised between Kishan and Bikram was that many of the adults lacked in numeracy and literacy levels that they would need to help make this successful. However, Bikram did mention that the government has an initiative that gives training to adults, for free, to improve their reading, writing and basic arithmetic. Bikram said he would investigate this further.
As for the health cooperative, it was only discussed a little and they were keen but again the logistics of setting it up correctly would be quite difficult right now. However, Bikram’s continued health camps and training will continue and other health related courses would be arranged and the community were happy with this. And on a lighter note, the picture above shows one of the girls taking advantage of using a pencil in a non conventional way for keeping up with her own personal hygiene 🙂
We hope that over the coming 6 months they may be able to arrange some training and have further discussions about these potential cooperatives, and then go from there. And once the meeting had finished, Kishan, Bikram and me walked down to Aandhi Khola to catch a bus to Bandipur. The two girls in the picture below wanted one last photograph before I left. The next time I seem them I hope they still have smiles on their faces and will be continuing to learn in school.
I stayed only one night in Aandhimul on my short trip to Nepal this time, and it was to be in a new area I hadn’t stayed in before, with Kishan (project funded school teacher) and his family. His area is in the north of the village above the school which has a beautiful view of the valley below (see image above). In the late afternoon before it got dark we walked around the the whole community so I could say hi to as many of the villagers as possible. It was nice to so many familiar faces and in particular to see the children growing/grown up.
Kishan informed me, as we met some teenage girls who remembered me, that they were the first girls in their community to stay in school until this age. And I could notice the affect on them, they seemed much more confident than those who finish school early. It’s great to see that the mindset is slowly changing and that it is okay girls to continue their education.
Also on our journey, I wanted to see all the new water taps (a boy is washing his clothes in one (see image above)) that were built by the community, CHOICE Nepal and us (in particular Jolana’s amazing efforts and without her there would have been no water project) in 2011. I was so pleased to see many more families were planting vegetables now that the community has much better access to water. You can see a lovely example in the image below.
As we continued on our walk we asked if anyone was interested to come to the meeting in the morning, but as this was festive season it would be a difficult task. In the South of the village there was a wedding ceremony and in true tradition the celebrations were lasting days.
We were invited by Pampha another of the project’s teachers to her house for dinner. It was nice to be able to listen to them and hear there views on the school and the project. We are very lucky that Kishan’s level of English has improved significantly. I can now have a detailed conversation him whereas before it would only be basic. So having him as an interpreter was so advantageous as my Nepali is only at beginner level.
The food Pampha served was very tasty and was cooked on a gas stove, and she and her family are from outside of Aandhimul and have more access to better facilities than in Aandhimul, where most people still cook on a small hand made clay stoves burning wood and bamboo (see image below and video at the bottom of the page). Smoke inhaltion is often a concern and we have noticed some older women with bad coughs, possibly contributed to if not caused by this.
Kishan and me used this time we had in the evening and the morning to have valuable discussions about the community and potential future projects including the Health and Nanglo cooperatives. And you can see pieces for a nanglo being made from bamboo in the picture below and in the video at the bottom of the page. I also enjoyed the morning with his family and other community members and you can see in the video below Kishan’s daughter helping her grandmother to make a nanglo, special moments.
After visiting the furniture shop, Bikram and me rode on a bus to Aandhi Khola and then walked up into the village. As it is the holiday season the school was closed but the teachers so nicely agreed to come and meet us at the school.
It was a typical beautifully, sunny Autumn day and because we had only just left the rainy season, every where was so green and lush. It was great to see. Once arriving at the school I was greeted by the teachers and welcomed with a mala and some tika put on my forehead (see image below).
The two school buildings had recently been painted blue which definitely made them stand out, and the memories from my last visit came flooding back. There were many more resources in the school buildings thanks to all the teacher training workshops Bikram had been organising and the project’s money supplying to fund these resources. I also noticed the water tank, guttering and the solar panel that were new to me apart from seeing them in pictures. They were part of Jolana and the villager’s great work of improvements over the past few years.
After some discussions and updates we decided to arrange a meeting with some of the villagers the following day to plan about potential project support for health and nanglo cooperatives in the community. I was looking forward to staying in the village that night.
Before making my first trip back to the village of Aandhimul, Bikram took me to see the new school furniture being produced that was only by the donations from the Rotary club of Patang (Dr Madan Piya) and Scottish Rotary grant (Bruce Anderson). And if it wasn’t for our project member Lou, who put in the initial proposal, we would not have been able to provide these new resources. Not only that but other schools in the Tanahun district also benefited from this donation. A big thank you to Lou and the Rotary Fund.
After four years I finally managed to return to Nepal and how excited I was. My last trip was with my girlfriend and we hoped to return 6 months later but before we could make it back we were engaged and my fiancé, as she had become, became pregnant with our first child. So the plans to visit Nepal were put on hold. A second child followed and then finally an opportunity became available for me to return this October.
The main purpose of my trip was not only to catch up with all the people in the community but to see how our new project manager Bikram was getting on after his first 6 months working with us.
It was great just to have all my senses overloaded again, the smells, the sights, the sounds. I can honestly say I missed dal bhat as was so happy to eat it again.
I arrived during the Deshain/Tihar festival period which was great to be there during this time and to celebrate with many old friends. It also gave me time to spend with Bikram and discuss about what has been happening and his feelings towards the project and the community, before visiting Aandhimul.
As you can see in the photos, Bikram’s house where I stayed is a traditional Newari building built by his grandfather and has some beautiful hand carvings that is typical with Newari architecture. He also had a plot of land in front of his house where he grew vegetables, and from there he picked to include in our dal bhat every day. And I must say he is a very good cook!