Sunday, May 6, 2012

New School 2012 Trip

Hello Everyone! More specifically the ones who plan on reading a blog... this blog!

Once again Janelle and I are in Nepal. What a crazy but lovable place this is. I can't quite describe to you how special this place is to me. So I thought that I could share with all of you a little of experience I have had so far this time. We arrived the 22nd of April into the loving arms of our guide and Uphill Both Ways Director of our Nepal division (It's only him) Pema Norbu Lama who affectionately call Vishwa late at night. We slept. Then woke up promptly at 6am to bed tea and were whisked away in a jeep along with Murray, Janelle's dad, Derek Harding and his wife Yolayne, my Auntie Carol and a host of other Albertans. Murray had organized a group of about 20 to visit Nepal and the school visit would culminate their visit and start ours. I believe there were 10 of us in all. I was very happy to have my Aunt Carol along to see first hand what the school was really like. Murray and Derek were there to represent the Lethbridge Rotary club as this project was jointly funded by them and Uphill Both Ways. I would like to take the time again to thank them as we couldn't have done this without them.

So a small 7 hour 117km drive later we arrived at the school. hahaha. Please read that last sentence again. Thank you.

Needless to say this school is not east to get to. Now if you have seen our long video you have seen the state this school was in. The people in this village came to us and asked for help as the building was falling down and adequate money was not being provided to them. We established that if they put forth an effort and showed us that they wanted this we would help them. I really think that's an essential step when doing things like this; you make sure they want it and it's going to be used as it was intended to be used. SO, they ripped out a hill and leveled the ground so that a stable foundation could be laid down. We knew they were serious and jumped at the chance to help them.

By no means did this happen overnight and a host of villagers worked on the school. All received fair pay for their part in the construction. It took less than a year to construct the 7 rooms each outfitted with a white board and desks. and a girls and boys toilet. Each student received a bag with school supplies that included pencils, erasers, pencil crayons, a ruler, sharpener, and notebooks to take notes down. One child was missing his pencil crayons... and he cried!!! Don't worry though as we found an extra set for him. The teachers received sporting equipment and teaching materials to make their lessons a little more colourful and a place to lock up these materials. Finally we had budgeted into our cost the salary for some of the teachers for the next few years! Now... here's the best part. The project came in way under budget!!! Amazing I would have to say. So the question is what to do with this extra money?

Now I can't take credit for this idea as it was Murray and Derek's but the idea is try and set up a microcredit loans project with this village. If you haven't heard of microcredit Google it quick.... Here I did it for you.... Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to poor borrowers who typically lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history. It is designed to spur entrepreneurship, increase incomes, alleviate poverty and often also to empower women. (Straight from Wikipedia). So either some of the profit from the new business or a percentage of the payments from the loan given will go towards paying teachers salary or any other school related cost. We presented this idea to the teachers and important people in the village. They seemed to be very receptive to the idea but needed to talk about it. We are expecting to hear back from them within the next few months on how they would like to proceed as ultimately it has to work for them for it to work. I am extremely proud of this community and hopeful for their future.

Here are a few photos from our time at the school. Enjoy! Until next time.

(in case you didn't already know)

Janelle and Murray

Murray getting his Visitor pin from a teacher. She is super awesome!

New sign for the school with our plaque underneath.

Close up.

Examples of bags each student received.

Giving away supplies to students.

Checking out all their new stuff.

Some cute kids!!!

All the students. Please notice the Canadian flag that they made!!!

Vishwa, Murray, Janelle, Me, amd Derek with the school behind us.

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