Greetings one and all,
The year in Nepal is 2070. A new year for us signals a frenzy of school work. Existing and a few new students have to be catered for – admitted into school, provided with books, uniform, shoes, bags. Contracts have to be made with schools incorporating fees for the year. The Nagarhope staff here are running from school to school covering all aspects of the above as well as meeting teachers, parents and students, updating photographs & profiles. We always say we would like to get all of this done in the 1st month of the Nepali year – Baisakh, but alas, here I write on the 10th day of the second month, with about a third of our main work still to wrap up. We are getting there.
I wish I could say the same about the political situation in Nepal. Baburam Bhattarai, one of the main Maoist party think-thanks, who prime-ministered over the country for 18 months has vacated the hot seat to let Khil Raj Regmi take over as ‘Chairman of the Election Government’. The fact that Regmi is still the sitting Supreme Court head is causing all sorts of protests within the judiciary and civil society members.
Lok Singh Karki is also causing his own fair share of protests – he has just been appointed to the CIAA (Commission for Abuse of Authority). His record is dubious, both financially and professionally – he was one of the main oppressors of the large scale people’s movement of 2006 under the then autocratic monarchy.
In other news, an 80 year old Japanese man scaled Everest over the last week, his 81 year old Sherpa rival is heading up in the next day or two to reclaim his Guinness record.
The rainy season is almost upon us. For those of us without a rainjacket, the deluge a few days ago confirmed its arrival. The kids we sponsor without a rainjacket will be fitted for one in the coming days.
We have an imminent big inspection by the Social Welfare Council of Nepal, the government body that regulates NGOs / Charities here. They will check up on every aspect of our work – from the schools we deal with to the education centres we run, from the staff we employ to the documents we hold in files in our office, from the painter who provides colour to walls to the location we are painstakingly trying to get a road to. It is doubling our workload at a busy time of year, but it is giving us a chance to thrive under a pressure we welcome. Any faults in our work will be scrutinized, adjusted and corrected.
Our sponsorship program is going well with over 100 sponsors of children in Private Primary and Secondary Level Schools, as well as another hundred odd children attending Government schools in the Nagarkot, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu areas. Always at this time of year, for whatever reason, parents decide to uproot their kids, move house, change school, all which affects our work. Schools also make drastic changes in curriculum, book lists, fees etc. Unfortunately this year, we have a pile of books as big as a beanstalk that we had intended to re-use, pass down to the next batch of kids coming up the educational ladder. Alas, almost all of the schools we deal with have changed their entire booklist, a fact that is not helped by School Unions working hand in hand with schools, publishers and management committees and God knows who else. Commission is the word that should be highlighted here. Each man from the printer to the principal makes there little cut along the way. Who loses out? Mainly the parents. We are an organization, and with foreign money coming in, we can choose a bookshop that is happy to give us a 20% discount rather than the 10% a school will offer other parents. We can write a cheque and plan a monthly budget so that there is no shortfall in cash.
We get a stack of applications to help new children at this time of year, not that some parents don’t make enough per year to educate their kids, but during this month when they maybe have to pay admissions for 2 / 3 children and books on top of that, they are crippled by the sheer enormity of the task. I am one of four siblings and we passed our books from one to the other saving the parental exchequer from having to buy four new sets of books every year. It’s all a big game of real-life Monopoly in the education sector. Sometimes I wish I could be selling bananas on a beach in Barbados, or even Belmullet for that matter.
Our Teku education centre recently had a change of guard. Manju Miss, who has been with us for 18 months has taken indefinite maternity leave and has been replaced by Rupa Shilpkar, a Bachelor Student with six years teaching experience. We wish Rupa all the best and say a fond farewell and thanks to Manju for her time and professionalism.
In February, we concluded our fourth annual Women’s picnic in Bajra Barahi temple and picnic spot. This year, the picnic doubled in size to about 80 women, as we had generous help from Wolf Price, Nick Weber and others. A bus transported these women and ten helpers / cooks / musicians to the foresty glade of Bajra Barahi where they ate, sang, played Pass the Parcel, danced and enjoyed a kind of freedom they are not used to – away from household chores, sons and daughters, grandkids, cutting hay, milking buffaloes, tending to the land, the house, the life, the way. A big thanks to all our sponsors for the picnic. International Women’s Day for us signals service to Women, older, wiser perhaps, that bit more in need of a bit of respite and respect.
The perennial shortages of petrol & electricity have been somewhat subdued as of late. The onset of the monsoon signals more water feeding the hydro-powered plants that give us electricity. I think we are down to about six hours power cuts per day, down from about 14 a month or two ago. It has gotten to the stage where, when the ‘boti’ goes, you don’t notice it, you know it’ll be back in an hour or three. Still though, when you watch football at the weekend, and your house and television are complementary black-coloured when the kick-off is nigh, you don’t be thinking of the health benefits of, say, a walk outside. Power Cut 1, Manchester United 0. If it’s an evening kick-off, you gotta wait two days for a three line report in the Kathmandu Post, not quite the same, but sure take life as it comes.
Nagarhope Ireland, to coincide with the Celebrity Challenge in February, launched its website – www.nagarhope.com. It is still under construction, with text and photos still to come, but we are still delighted that it is up and running after so many fits and starts. A big thanks to Tigger and Ram for their collaboration and persistence.
Umbrella Foundation Nepal, an Irish founded INGO based in Kathmandu run a table quiz in Thamel, the main tourist area of Kathmandu every week. They have already run one for Nagarhope in April and hope to donate the proceeds from one quiz a month to Nagarhope. Thanks a million to Mack, Aedin and all the volunteers for their kind gesture.
On another note, thanks to Tara Mooney from Lucan who ran the Flora Women’s Mini-Marathon on 3rd June in aid of Nagarhope. Tara has been to Nepal to volunteer for Nagarhope a couple of years back and has seen firsthand the work that we do. Thanks again Tara!
And thank you once again to you all for your generous sponsorships which enables children to get a basic education.
Myself and two other Nagarhope Ireland Committee members will be walking the Dublin City Marathon in October and anyone wishing to get on board and do the same, please contact me or Niamh – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who would like to run a fundraiser in aid of Nagarhope can use the www.mycharity.ie website to help in the fundraising efforts. Simply click on www.mycharity.ie/charity/nagarhope and then on the ‘Raise money for this charity’ link on the left side of the page – this will allow you to set up a fundraising event which people can sponsor you for.
That’s all for now folks,
See ya in the next mail.
Mise le meas
Tikathali, Lalitpur, Nepal