A Festive Nagarmail,
Warm greetings one and all, wherever you may be. As Christmas 2021 beckons, we reflect on the almost two years of life affected by the Covid pandemic and how it has jolted the lives of each and every person. For a time during 2020, the world was closed to daily life, nothing happened, we all shared the unwanted spoils of indefinite lockdowns. Life as we know it (or knew it) has not returned completely to normal, or maybe it has, and this is it – the new normal! Whatever cards we have been dealt over the last 20 months or so, we have adjusted and got on with it, some more than others.
Nepal has been no different in this respect. During 2020, we endured lockdowns, partial openings, 2nd and 3rd waves, a real rollercoaster ride of emotions and having to deal with the restrictions. The school year ended two months later than usual, school and college exams were affected, hundreds of thousands of students were denied any education at all due to lack of internet access in rural areas.
Nagarhope Basic School (NBS) started running classes in July of 2021, three months delayed due to the delays of 2020, and we are delighted to report that classes have kept going since then, sometimes on a half day basis, but mostly full days. At present, NBS has 130 children in attendance and 14 staff, 5 of them now paid by the local municipality. We have a new principal in Udhab Parajuli, a teacher with 25 years experience.
The local municipality provided us with a grant to build a new toilet block this year, separate urinals for boys and girls, complete with water tanks and septic tank. Also, Red Cross provided our school with clean drinking water and hand washing facilities during a project that supplied clean uninterrupted drinking water to each and every household in the surrounding areas, 150 houses in total. Thanks to the workers for both of these projects for giving their all.
We also constructed 2 new classrooms early 2021 to cater for the growing number of classes and students. These 2 large classrooms cater for our Pre-Primary level and have eased the pressure on Nagarhope to finally fulfil a dream to construct an earthquake-proof concrete structure to take us into the future. Plans are afoot, a full design has been drawn up, land has been measured. Over the next 18 months to 2 years, we will require a lot of extra funding to initially start this venture. We are in talks with the local municipality regarding funding and they have told us that they may provide 40 % of the total cost of the project.
Since October / November 2020, the local municipality has been providing 15 Rupees per day per child for a midday meal at our school. This has only applied when the school is open full time and running classes all day. It has been stop start but is fully up and running now again this year. It makes such a massive difference that our students are getting hot and healthy meals, many students leave at 8am and do not get home until 6pm due to the distance to the school itself.
In April 2021, 2 volunteers Michael from Germany and Patricia from Spain spent 3 weeks helping out in our school. They painted our 2 new classrooms with pictures and alphabets and played with the children constantly giving them much needed entertainment after a trying year. Danke schön, gracias, thank you to you both for everything.
In July / August 2021, our staff, myself, Dhurba and our driver on the day received both shots of the Corona vaccine at the local health post. A small gesture it may seem, but an important first step in keeping our staff safe in order to continue running classes should any cluster of cases appear in our area. Thank God that our area has seen very few cases since the pandemic began and no staff or students have been affected to date.
Our 12th annual picnic took place on March 8th 2021, International Women’s day at Surya Binayak, Ghyampe Dhanda with 70 older women. A great day for all and enjoyed by all who attended. It was comforting to bring them on a day trip after the restrictions of the previous year and the scaled down picnic the year before. Thanks especially to Dhurba for his organisation on the day and leading up to it and to all helpers and volunteers as well.
Our Nepali committee took a 3 day trip to Pokhara, the lake city in July of this year. It was a great team building exercise and happened after a hiatus of 4/5 years. Not much was open due to the restrictions but a great time was had nonetheless.
Nagarhope Nepal’s work has been impeded over the last 2 years due to the pandemic. Our scholarship of school and college students in Government schools in the Nagarkot area has been affected due to school closures. We hope to catch up on these delays over the coming months and have been in touch with the schools and colleges in question with regard to providing uniforms, books and bags. To be honest, with Nagarhope Basic School growing in size and stature over the years, the vast majority of resources and spending have been directed to its upkeep and running. This was always going to happen as we grew but is a testament to the success of our flagship project.
Sponsoring a child in another school takes so little work, as in we sign a contract and pay the school, everything else is up to the student, family and school in question. Whereas with our own school, every single individual child is our responsibility, ours to mould and shape for the future, each problem becomes our problem, every step taken, we take it with them.
Has been a while since I Nagarmailed, seems like an age and a day since I made that yearly trip home, but all the while, through thick and thin, Nagarhope’s work is ongoing in Nepal, trying as ever despite numerous and varied red-tapes and complications to give a better future to the children of Nepal.
On Friday 24th December, we are having a small Christmas party in Nagarhope Basic School. As ever, Dhurba will don the Santa Claus costume and we hope to give each of our 130 students a small gift. Anyone who would like to donate a small amount for this cause please contact myself or Niamh to do so: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / 0870666891
A very merry, safe and happy Christmas and New Year to one and all, at home, abroad, wherever you all may be. Let’s hope the new normal will treat us all well and fairly as the present bids farewell to the past and embraces the future.
Dum Spiro Spero
Mise le Meas
Fachtna ‘Doc’ Clandillon