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Howard Trillo's reports from Nepal

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Report of visit to Kalleri School: Jan 07

During my visit to the village, I went down to the Staffroom of the school and there met the Headmaster, Hari Krishna Panday, several of the teachers and Urgun, a ‘cousin’ on the School Management Committee. After discussing expenditure requirements for the 57,500 R’s I raised with my talk in the UAE before I left (all to go towards ‘equipment’ rather than building, as requested by the ENHG) we then walked around the site looking at the present buildings and discussed their plans for the future, especially regarding the Old Block, as yet untouched by development and my own special interest.
My first point of issue was my observation that the doors of the ‘new’, developed Block were mostly damaged and certainly three were totally insecure after school hours – this the result of student action in the evenings and perhaps early mornings, despite a ‘security fence’ erected a year or so ago (by German donors). I, personally, had witnessed students and even youths gain access to the site (out of school hours) by climbing around the fence, gaining the roof, and dropping down into the grounds. Remonstration, without a command of Nepali was, of course, out of the question. The teachers do not feel responsible for the site outside 10am to 4pm: first, they are away from the site (which is on a steep hillside, as you know) and secondly, they do not get paid enough to ‘care’ personally for the premises, which is certainly true! (I’ve heard such comments from well-paid UAE teachers, so nothing new here). Consequently, I decided to allocate some of my recent fundraising towards new metal doors and new locks for the block; this will also facilitate the display of ‘permanent’ posters and maps, etc., in those classrooms, which I have always wanted but has never happened (except in Grade 4 room whose door is secure) due to the risk of damage.
On my second visit at ‘Tiffin Time’ next day, I discussed with some of the teachers the idea of trying to instill the concept of ‘care’ into the children – Urgun had mentioned previously that there was very little discipline – pointing out that if the teachers didn’t care, how could they expect the children to! They assured me they certainly cared during the day, while they were there, and thought they conveyed this to the students; they were nevertheless interested in the idea of making a point of emphasizing this at some future occasion (though unsure when) and listened to my idea of telling the children of all the fundraising that was going on for their benefit, by ourselves and the German sponsors, and even outlining future development plans to them, so that they might appreciate the efforts being made to make their school the best in the district and might therefore respect the place a little more. Pie in the Sky? Well, if my Volunteers Visa is granted I will certainly try to follow this up.

Pic 1
We then moved on to their plans for the Old Block. Money raised before the summer holidays (78,000 R’s) had already been allocated to reinforce the steep bank below the Old Block,  (see Pic 1, with old toilet block above the afore-mentioned bank) but it had been decided, meanwhile, to try to build a new classroom on the ‘second level’ (see Pic 2 attached), with the bankside wall of the new room extra strong to serve as a retaining wall for the bank itself.

The current funding would erect the retaining wall and the foundations for the room, but I would really like to complete the whole room (with flat roof, for future addition of a second storey, as and when possible) during this building season – now until the end of May, and am suggesting to you and our various sponsors in UAE and UK that this is a worthwhile and achievable objective. The required target, taking into consideration the 78,000 already obtained, is estimated at 322,000 R’s (2420 British pounds or $4666) – can we do it? I hope so, but whatever, I am personally pledging to top-up to the required amount, after our/your (!) fundraising efforts during January/February.


Pic 2
The new building, by the way, would be in the style and materials of the new staffroom and toilet block  and you should know that they German sponsors have already pledged money for two additional classrooms on the edge of the school property, to the left and ‘behind the camera’ in the picture of the current play area  (Pic 5) – but it will not take away all the play area, which I deem essential, if only to encourage the kids away from the main classroom blocks above. All the additional classrooms will enable the school to develop beyond the present Grade 8 to Grade 10, after which the school can expect extra funding from the Government (and extra staff allocation above the current 7 for 300 kids!).
Pic 5

With regard to the expenditure of the funds raised through ‘auction’ at talk given to ENHG in December and individual donations: equivalent to 57,500 NPR’s… I spoke to the teachers at the school requesting them to give me a list of equipment that they would like to buy with this money. During the tour of the school grounds, it became apparent to me that some of the money would have to be spent on securing the doors of the classrooms which were damaged: for this purpose, 20,000 R’s was estimated.

They subsequently gave me a list of equipment, in order of priority, which ranged from a plastic skeleton to a microscope, from cultural dress (3 boys’, 3 girls’) to phenolphthalein! I have the task of now finding suppliers of these (up to 17) items and will report back on actual purchases once the money has been totally spent.

Needless to say, the teachers and the Headmaster, Hari Krishna Panday, express their appreciation of the support that the Group are giving the school, now and in the future.

This ends my current Report; I await your response with baited breathe!

Howard


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Delivering school supplies! 1 March report

In his latest news from Nepal, Howard reports that construction of the school addition has begun and school supplies purchased with funds raised by the Al Ain chapter of the ENHG have been purchased and delivered to the school. Howard has also begun meetings to help train area teachers to teach English more effectively.

"I have just arrived back from a visit to my ‘base’, Panchakanya School in Kavre District," Howard wrote on March 1, "where I met with all the teachers who are taking part in my project, about eighteen people in all, from nine schools, some of which are quite distant, requiring a walk of 3 hours or more." Howard could not resist asking the rhetorical question: "Can you imagine teachers in the West walking so far for a meeting?"

It was hard work for Howard, as well, as he had to walk uphill for an hour just to get to the meeting!

"Instead of the two hours scheduled, the meeting went on for five," he said, "but I’m not sure how well it went – evidently some of the teachers found it difficult to understand my accent! However, they were all very keen for me to organize a ‘Workshop’ and tell them ‘how to teach English effectively’."

Howard explained in an earlier report that he thought the funds raised in Al Ain could best be used to buy classroom materials which the school desparately needs.

"I am writing to report that, on the same trip, I was able to deliver several packages of Science equipment plus laminated wall posters and maps to Shree Shiwalaya School , which the ENHG so kindly paid for with their donations in December." [Ed: You can see the full list of items below.]

"I was able to hand over a balance to the School Management so that they could purchase the more ‘local’ items themselves," he added.

"Your members might be interested to know that, to get the equipment safely to the school, I had to hire a 4 x 4 jeep and I sat with the microscope on my lap for over five hours to protect it from the dreadful bumps and hollows of the off-road track we had to traverse."

Below are some images from the construction project which began recently. "I am also attaching some photos of the construction of the new classroom which I was able to initiate with the 78,000 rupees raised last year in the UAE and UK . That money will build the two split-level retaining walls, on and against which the classroom will be built. I have seen the surveyor’s plans, when on site, but do not have a copy of it as yet."

There are sufficient funds to build the necessary expansion of the school, permitting more classes to be held so that senior students will no longer have to leave the community to finish school.

"We still need funds for the classroom itself," Howard adds.

While there are no immediate plans for another fund-raising evening, the Committee of the Al Ain chapter is interested in suggestions. Perhaps something could be arranged in conjunction with the annual photography competition in May.

Howard's return from the project site were interrupted by a nation-wide strike of essential services, including bus service. As a result, he could not return home.

"Instead, I sat outside my friend’s house, sipping tea, listening to the repetitive chanting of the junior classes in the school just below, and read Thesiger’s “The Marsh Arabs”. To my dismay, the Bundha continued for a second day, and then threatened to halt my return journey half way home on the third day, but by the time we got to Banepa it had ended," he reports.

Progress is continuing, however. Howard would not have been able to keep in contact with his Nepalese friends had it not been for telephone technology.

"Thank goodness, we have ONE phone in the village now," he adds.


Stockpiled building material

General view of site

View of the footings installed

Another view of the retaining wall footings


Funds Raised in Dec 06 by ENHG (Al Ain)

 

Expenditure Schedule Part I

 
Item Qty Price per item Cost

(in NPRs)

 
Microscope  1  5250 5250  
Associated items 2 pkts 150 150  
Human Skeleton 1 3850  3850  
Thermometer  125  500  
Barometer 1 850 850  
Convex Mirror 45 45  
Concave Mirror 45 45  
Eye Glass Lens 4 45 180  
Litmus Indicator 6 75 450  
Methyl Orange 1 bottle 165 165  
Phenolphthalein 1 bottle 180 180  

Laminated Science Posters (Various)

10 225 2250  
Periodic Table Poster 1 475 475  
Solar System Poster 1 275 275  
Sub-total       14,665/-
Geographic Maps        
(Laminated) 200 1000  
Ditto 1 250 250

 

Sub-total       1250
Transport (I) for collection + (II) for taking to Kalleri      3800 3800
Grand Total       19,715/-
Balance available for other items:     57,800 – 19,715 38, 085 /-


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Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan