|The entrance to the school area.|
We had our first visit with the school yesterday, Friday February 18 at 2:30 PM. Nothing could prepare me for what we saw. It was half day at the school, so at the time we arrived all the children had been sent home. It gave us time to soak everything in, taking our time to walk from class room to class room. The school looked as if it was in a stage of being broken down. Anywhere in America this building would have been demolished, not fit to be used, most definitely not for children. Metal rods were sticking out of concrete walls, parts of the wall where steps leading down once had gaping holes, there was no support on one part of the school, as the stairs had been broken down. Barren rooms, school benches turned over and the greyness of bare concrete walls is what these children had to look at day after day. How can you be excited to go to school each day, how can you want to concentrate in class? My first impression was shock, but then I met the most humble and warm teachers. They have a passion for teaching and talk about the children with such love. This is a school where time did stand still and nothing has changed for over sixty years. The principal has been with the school for forty years; it is his life and had been his life for all this time. Some of the teachers have been here for most of their teaching careers. It is a forgotten school, tucked away behind buildings in a small side street. The children that come here are all from remote areas of Nepal. Their parents are laborers that came to the city to find work. These children have little and no chance of breaking the cycle. Life is about the struggle to survive day after day. Education is not a priority for the parents if you need to put food on the table.
The teachers asked us and told us that they do not expect big things from us, not even huge amounts of money. All they need are little things to help them with the education the children. Things like books which they do not have access to, a writing board for the teachers with markers, teacher volunteers that are willing to assist in training for teachers. They gave me so much to think about and I felt blessed to be sitting down with them, drinking a cup of tea. This school has changed my life forever, how can I ever look at things the same again. Not once did they complain about their situation, or have any expectation. On Sunday we will be returning to the school to visit with the children and show the two volunteers that are joining us the school. We will have another meeting with the school and talk about some other ideas for the future. All I can promise myself is to make a commitment to these children, to dedicate the time that I have to work towards giving them the opportunity to have a better education and environment.
I do know that we had been led to this school, a place where we will find beauty in all the greyness, where children’s smiles and hope will make us grow. Can we look away, can you look away when nothing is asked from us or you, but more is given? Where it is not about what can I get from you, but what can I give you, if only my smile and love. This is a journey not of what we will give, but of what we can learn. Namaste! Namaste! The echoes of young children as we walk by, touching their palms together in greeting, smiles warming up your heart. Nothing for me will ever be the same, and for you?