Thursday, April 21, 2011

Can we spark an interest in Science and Biology again?

The school has requested that we assist them with science and biology teaching aids. They have supplied us with a list of the items that is needed. At this point it is impossible for them to visually teach and show the children experiments or even just simple things as to for example how the eye works.  Most of everything they have in the school is broken or not usable because of age deterioration.  As you can see from the pictures that I have added. I can only imagine how difficult it is for the children to understand the book knowledge without seeing it in practice or even just shown on a chart. I had never imagined that a school could teach under these conditions. They supplied us with the children’s examination results, and it exceeded my expectations. These are children that are motivated to learn, no matter how difficult the situation might be. There were very few children that failed and most did very well. Our goal is to supply the school with this much needed equipment so that there can be a renewed interest in these subjects which many of us loved and found fascination. We have volunteers that are currently working on finding all the equipment that is needed and we are looking at a budget of Rupees 50 000 for everything approximately $714. I truly do hope that we can move this mountain and make this possible. My dream would be that each and every child could finish school, and not be taken out of school due to lack of facilities and no educational materials. At this point the number of children graduating is around 10. Can we change their future? Please email me if you could assist in any way, we always need helping hands and ideas. Our email address is the same as the PayPal address

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Impressions and thoughts

I wanted to officially welcome Tal as our new volunteer at the school. He is from the USA and will be teaching English to the 5th and 6th grade. I had asked him to write something for the blog about his first day and his impressions of the school, which I added below. Thank you for volunteering your time and I am sure it will be just as rewarding for you as it will be for the children.
Tal in the classroom.
"I had been to the temple courtyard that adjoins the school before but I had not the slightest idea that there was a school here. There was no sign or banner announcing it. At the time I saw a few children in uniforms playing around what looked to be a construction (or demolition) site. So of course I was a bit surprised later upon arriving on the first day after the students' exam break to see that indeed this was the location of the school and not a condemned building in the midst of being torn down. Quite the opposite, it's as lively a place as any other school building, brimming with activity and morning vitality. I knew beforehand that the school's resources were extremely limited but one really has to be there to appreciate the reality of that situation, and what it means to the students and faculty there. On the first day back there were no classes being held, as only a trickle of children (perhaps a quarter of the student body or fewer) were in attendance, and the school was awaiting a new delivery of government-provided textbooks, expected in a matter of days. In lieu of class, students socialized and frolicked in and around the classrooms, while my over-protected American sensibility caused me to cringe at all of the potential safety hazards: the high, rickety railing comprised of a wooden beam held precariously in place by a length of rope tied at either end; the stacks of loose bricks; the four-storey drop from the open-air classrooms and the cement below; etc. But, as I had seen countless times before in Nepal, the children played, unsupervised and either oblivious to or coolly aware of the dangers there, managing to magically avoid catastrophe. I would see groups of kids clustered together - the older ones offering a shy greeting, the middle grades shrieking and unabashedly piping up in English, and the very youngest going from silent self-containment to spontaneous dance parties within the span of a moment - and greeted them as I walked by and looked into the mostly bare rooms. I spent much of the time that first day crowded into the faculty lounge while the teachers talked, ate chow mein, and read newspapers. Since I had been expecting a ceremonious greeting during which I would have to give a speech, I was a bit thankful for being more or less ignored for a while. A few of the teachers who spoke some English introduced themselves informally, and the others were polite but less outgoing. I spoke for a while to the vice-principle, trying to get an idea of how a typical class is conducted at BVS, what the children's routines and expectations are like, and what I could possibly have to offer, coming from a different culture and way of doing things. He stressed the fact that many of the teachers tend to stay very faithful to the exercise books, often teaching from them verbatim. I left our conversation with the feeling of being in a place where the pedagogical models, educational objectives, and notions of discipline are often very distinct from those to which I have been familiar, and I admittedly had some serious doubts that my own perception of how school should be might run into some difficulty in finding compatibility with the way things are done here. I think and hope that I can overcome such trepidation in the long-run because I feel this place, these people, and my assignment (5th and 6th grade English) are worth it. One need only set foot on the small courtyard of the school to see that it is in need of all the basic things that even the poorest schools back home take for granted. Indeed, looking at the crumbling and half-finished building that houses BVS, it seems a place that is naked of most qualities that we in the West consider necessary for a functioning school. Most, that is, except the mutual enthusiasm and energy of the people there, adults and children alike, things that I saw very much in evidence. The school has people who care and want to be there to accomplish things together, and thus the place has an unmistakable inner glow to it - in addition to all the natural light."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Step by Step

I have been so excited about all the amazing things that have been happening and thankful for all the hard work behind the scenes from everybody. Nepal had just celebrated New Years and is getting ready for the new school year which will be starting tomorrow. Our two new volunteers will also be starting their first day at school. I am happy to report back that we had received donations for the sports equipment. Magdalena and Bhesh Raj have been shopping for cricket set with balls and stumps, a volleyball, 4 badminton rackets, some shuttlecocks and a long skipping rope. The school has allocated a spot to put up the basket ball ring. I can only imagine how much fun the children are going to have with all the new games. We also received a donation of 150 metal 1 liter water bottles for the children. With these bottles they will be able to transport boiled water to school or collect water at other water spots. We are arranging a handover next week, and I am so sorry to miss the occasion. We will be posting pictures and updates for everybody to share the day with us. We are currently planning and working on another project for the school. The school has no science equipment to teach science and biology to the children. They have supplied us with a list of equipment that is needed and our volunteers have been scouting for prices. The estimated cost is around Rupees 50 000, (+-$714) for everything. This would make such a big difference in how the children are taught as they cannot do any experiments at this point. If anybody could assist us with a small donation it would be greatly appreciated. Step by Step we hope to change the school into a place where children would want to come to learn.
Current state of science and biology equipment!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Basketballs and game time funds needed

The school grounds is the first section. The temple grounds (furthest) are also used by the children to play on.
Namaste everyone. As you might have read on a previous post, I had written about the need for sports equipment at the school. After a meeting with the school they had shown a big interest in having a basket ball for the children. As I had mentioned they only have two footballs at this point which had been donated. The school had pointed out a place where the hoop could be fitted. The children have not had the opportunity to play with a proper basket ball and ring. They do not have a proper court or too much space available, but they would use the space they have. It can bring so much excitement to the children, as for them each day has pretty much been the same. We have priced the equipment, the price of the ring is Rupees 800 (+-$11.50), the net Rupees 150(+- $2.15) and there are rubber balls for Rupees 675 (+-$10.00), not too sure about the quality, there are better quality basketballs available for Rupees 1025 each (+-$15.00). For a total of around $28.00 (hopefully we can negotiate a better price) we will be able to make such a change in their day. I am not one for approaching people directly for funds, as this is still new to me and I do not know too many people in Houston. But if anybody is willing to donate a few dollars it will be so much appreciated. None of these funds will go to our pocket and everything will go directly to the school.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

“This is my home, where’s yours?”

“This is my home, where’s yours?” I walked into one of the classrooms that were empty as school was out for the day. These words were written on the class room board. “This is my home, where’s yours?” Strangely enough every time I think of the school this image comes into my mind. These few words have made such an impact on me, just like so many other experiences I have written to you about. Just has me thinking, for so many of these children this is their home, this is where they spend most of their time. Many of these children do not have a home to call their own, this school represents that to them. This is where children should feel safe, where they should be cared for, loved and where they should receive an education. This is our obligation as adults to make these things possible to all children of the world. This school has been left behind and most nothing if anything has changed for over forty years. These children are not in a safe environment as the building is not structurally safe for them. The teachers do not have the teaching equipment to even teach the children science. There is no safe drinking water at the school and not even a few English books that they could read. This is their home, this is their reality. This is where they sit in the classrooms each day exposed to the elements as there are no doors, not even windows. Could we blame them for not wanting to go to school, could we blame them for thinking that school is not important. This is their home, where‘s yours?
At this point I have no idea how we are going to raise the funds or even how to raise it. I have met an amazing group of young people in Kathmandu on my last few days in the city. They are all working so hard on setting up plans for what we need to do. I feel truly blessed to have them by my side. We have a wish list of things we would want to do for these children, and one by one we hope to mark them as completed. But we do need your help to make this possible……..