Pokhara Hospital Visits

25th of June which marked the day of a hospital visit to Pokhara. Jolana originally planned it for the day before and for only 3 children to turn up but instead she met 7 adults and 3 children. 5 patients in total, the rest were supporting the patients.

More details to come…


Days in Damauli

Jolana had met Mon and teacher Kissan in Damauli, the capital of the Tanahun district where both Bandipur and Aandhimul lye. It is here where all the local goverment offices can be found, and where for the past few weeks Mon and some of the new NGO members have been trying to register the group. I have been made aware by Jolana that today they have finally been accepted and they are now registered, yeah!

But that is only the start, there’s so much more work to be done, but the first hurdle has been jumped.

I have been made aware by Jolana that Mon is going to write up a more detailed account of the past few weeks and send it to me. Once I recieve it, then I will update this blog entry.

Also, Jolana sent some general images of daily life in Damauli a large town in Nepal, as you can see above.


Community & School Update

Jolana and Mon have been working hard these past few weeks with the community and the school. Mon has also got his wife involved, and for those of you who don’t know, she is a teacher for a pre-school, Setograss (see here) in their home town Bandipur. She has been helping the 2 female teachers who work with the pre-school, and some mothers too. As you can see in the pictures above, they are making bowls and other containers to store teaching aids, which they also make by hand. All new and great for the teachers and parents in Aandhimul.

Also, Jolana has made me aware of the great job Mon has been doing to inspire the villagers, teachers and continue to work hard on improving relations in the village, great stuff!

In addition Jolana has been continuing to absorb the life and culture within in the village as some of the other images above demonstrate.

Hopefully on her return to the UK next month, Jolana will give more of an insight to her experiences these past few months, she’s been doing a great job out there.


Picnic day

Spending more time in Bandipur and seeing how Bhagi Maya spends most of her days with daily chores I suggested a picnic. I wanted to offer some fun and break from the day to day duties and children got very excited of the prospect of drinking Fanta! I planned to walk to Aandhimul but in mid June it is so hot and humid and I underestimated the word Picnic – which does not mean cakes and sandwiches.

Picnic in Nepal means removing most of your kitchen utensils, bringing food, water and cooking, rice , meat, dhal on an open fire. There are several activities as it takes very long to cook the meal – playing, dancing, singing exploring and running all followed by the long awaited dinner of pilau, vegetables, meat and soft drinks. The top 3 houses joined and 3 of the mothers helped to make this delicious food while I was running around with 10 children and playing “stuck in the mud”!

We had much fun and although it still took a lot of effort to make this happen we all enjoyed this day of fun and good food. All took place on top of the hill with the view of Tanimai, Bandipur!


Time to breath

The last 2 or 3 weeks have been very hectic here in Nepal and I just managed to escape to Pokhora to send some pictures and updates. Both Mon and me have been working hard to achieve as much as possible, which in Nepal is very difficult. We face strikes, hot weather, poor health from time to time – all coming unexpectedly. I’m finding great support in our base in Bandipur and also from Lee’s, Lou’s and Angela’s e-mails. It all feels that we finally are making some headway though and seeing progress give us extra energy.

I also feel that soon I will leave and this time it will be much harder – I got attached to the  villagers and feel like part of family now. Comming to Pokhora gives a little distance and good cup of coffee and comfortable bed feels like heaven to me. We all need space to breath and I hope both Mon and me will find that space.

Community Visit Bandipur Hospital

Jolana over 2 days took around 80 villagers to Bandipur local hospital, it’s not very big, but has enough equipment, and qualified doctors to give many of the villagers a general health check up. At the end of these 2 days there were about 8 referals to a larger hospital, either in Pokhara or Kathmandu. Pokhara the best choice as it is closer, and Jolana, on behalf of the project has decided to help these referals, and we will be updating you in future blogs.


Health Awareness Programme

By Jolana Whyte – Project Event Organiser & Volunteer

The Aandhimul project organised a day visit to Aandhimul with 20 nurses from the Balkumari College in Narayangarh, Chitwan who have been on 1-month community stay in Bandipur.

The day was fixed for 06.06.2009 started at 12pm. The programme was delivered as an informal drama, yet covered 12 very important subjects:

  1. ANC – antenatal care
  2. Treatment of Diarrhoea – teaching how to use rehydration solutions.
  3. Safe drinking water to avoid water born diseases
  4. Drug abuse focused on cigarettes and alcohol
  5. Family planning – methods
  6. Education- focused on sending children to school – especially girls
  7. Early marriage
  8. STD – especially focused on HIV – message of that even HIV person can still have a successful role in society and that we should Love them rather than hate them.
  9. Immunisation for child
  10. Post natal care – the importance of breast feeding, nutrition’s – teaching how to make Sasbotum Pito – Nepal dish of rice, maze and soybeans given to babies after 6 month.
  11. Sanitation – covering personal hygiene
  12. Recycling – using compost for kitchen waste, collection and recycle of plastic bottles, using bins rather than throwing rubbish.

A Jeep was booked with 1 microphone, no other provisions for bad weather – I took a small wooden Ganesh (in Hindu religion one of the Gods- the removal of obstacles) with me – present from Lee, as I felt the anticipation of the day growing! (Last night we had the worst downpour yet!)

We literately had to squeeze ourselves in, but the positive mood of all nurses and their songs soon lifted any worries from my mind. We arrived with slight delay, but managed the walk around the canal in very hot weather – still the girls were eager to start soon!

We used local resources from our school and created a simple stage. We just needed the villagers to turn up and soon inquisitive children showed up. We used the mic and school bell to hurry up the crowed. This is the first time such a programme has been offered in Aandhimul, so villagers took their time as tried to smarten up. After a few announcements, with only a slight delay we started at 12:30.

The programme was very successful and we even got the little ones seated for 45 minutes. I was so pleased to see how much everyone enjoyed themselves – no need for translation here when smiles and laughter are on display. Afterwards we sung and danced in Nepali style! Mon Bhujel, Jay Bahadur Bhujel and Bhuwan Bhujel Bharat and President of our Local NGO made tea and brought biscuits – well needed refreshment! Thank you!

We finished with a visit to the Aandhimul temple and walk to Setrose. Returning to Bandipur yet again with songs we were welcomed at the Old Inn for a late and well deserved Khadja (snacks/lunch).

I’d like to thank all 20 nurses and their teacher Srijana Khabiwada, also Ram and staff of Old Inn for donating food, Bigram Pia for donating the microphone. Also big thanks to Rupa, Mon’s wife, for donating time and giving a creative workshop to our teachers, and also to all who came from Bandipur and Aandhimul… This felt like 25 hours in a day, but well spent!

To follow up, we have also offered free health check ups and transport to Bandipur hospital for all villagers. More of this in the next blog!!!


When Everything Goes Pear Shaped Just Sing

By Angela Sharp – Project Fundraiser & Volunteer

This was my mantra during 4 weeks in Aandhimul village teaching teachers how to use the materials I had brought from Australia. The teachers in Aandhimul School have NO MATERIALS AT ALL to work with. This is quite difficult to imagine, almost impossible really especially coming from Australia, the land of plenty. As a piano teacher in Australia this compares to me teaching students how to play the piano with no music and no piano, just telling them how to do it.

All of the teachers in Aandhimul told us of their frustrations. We asked Mina, Pampha and Kissan to write down their top 5 difficulties. Overwhelmingly it was the bad behaviour of the students. These kids, they said, didn’t concentrate, were easily distracted, and were quite disruptive during lessons.

The Nepalese method of teaching is as it is throughout most of Asia – rote teaching or the lecture method.

Try to imagine a group of 25 little ones – 5 year olds – sitting at desks and listening to the teacher drone on and on and on. They copy work from the board and recite whatever they hear from the teacher. No interaction, no questioning, no negotiation with peers, no fun at all. This is not completely the fault of the teachers as they are only teaching as they learned themselves.

Joli and I wanted only to give the teachers a little more latitude in their skill base and some materials to inspire their teaching. This would hopefully then renew the interest of the students in their learning, leading to better classroom behaviour.

CLASSROOM BEHAVIOUR – the only discipline obvious to us while in Aandhimul, and while we taught in Bandipur last year, was the use of a large stick to intimidate and occasionally hit disruptive students. We tried to give the teachers a few strategies to use first.

These included having classroom rules – negotiated by all involved. Using a 2 warning then timeout system in the classroom. Also encouraging the teachers to give the students positive feedback when the class behaved well.

USING “I HEAR, I SEE, I DO” in all lessons – We encouraged the teachers to plan lessons allowing the students to be involved on all 3 levels. For example:
– Have the students recite the first 10 odd/even numbers.
– Have each student place a coloured pebbles on the pattern numbers ( these pebbles were painted as part of an art lesson while we were in the village and I took over large laminated number charts from 1-100)
– Ask each student to write an odd/even number on the board.
– Ask the students to form odd/even numbered groups.
– Repeat the lesson over many days until everyone in the class is an expert. This is really important as a large percentage of students, especially the girls, miss a lot of school. Family responsibilities take precedence over school in rural villages.

STORY TELLING – Aandhimul school has no library, as they have very few books, and the ones they do have are kept in the staffroom cupboard, with library written on it.

Joli and I asked the 3 teachers to tell us a story appropriate to a class of 5-7yos. The first day this happened Joli and I nearly fell asleep – it was read in Nepali of course but the droning voices were very, very boring to listen to – I felt sorry for the students. We talked with the teachers about facial expression, body movement, voice changes and eye contact firstly before asking them to repeat their stories the next day. Already there were improvements. We then encouraged the teachers to ask questions of the group every 2/3 sentences to keep them involved.

By the third reading the improvements were huge. Suddenly the stories came alive with each teacher clearly enjoying the experience. Now they were feeling confident we asked them to read their stories to a class and the results were amazing. What we saw were happy teachers and quiet and attentive students who loved being asked questions. The teachers then told the class how great their behaviour had been. A WIN/WIN !!! The teachers were enthusiastic for more and worked really hard with us for the 15 days we had together.

The large suitcase I took with me contained materials bought in Australia from donated funds and other materials donated by my wonderful group of friends. I took many flashcards for numbers and letters – we also had the teachers make their own flashcards in Nepali on the blanks I took with me. I took jigsaw puzzles, dice, tape measures, scissors, card games, magnifying glasses, rulers, art equipment such as coloured paper and glue, building blocks – please see the great photo of the kids using these – maps, balls and skipping ropes.

Time will tell how successful this venture was – whether or not the teachers continue to use the ideas and materials. Having Mon in the village will enable us to have some feedback each month.

I absolutely loved being able to share a few ideas with Kissan, Mina and Pampha. Having to work through a translator most of the time ( Kissan and occasionally Mon) made for slow progress but also made me very aware of using clear language.

As I said at the beginning of this article “WHEN IT ALL GOES PEAR SHAPED JUST SING”. Each night I spent a lot of time planning the activities for the coming day. There was at least one time each day when I threw my hands in the air in frustration. Frustration at not being prepared enough or clever enough to communicate something clearly to teach these eager teachers. A big smile and then a song always reenergized the room and calmed me ready for the next activity.

The power of song is truly amazing. Teaching an Aboriginal song to a group of Nepalis is a privilege – hearing them still singing it the next day is even better.

Education is a powerful tool for change and the children of Aandhimul deserve so much better. They deserve better resourced teachers and a better resourced school and I hope we can slowly make this happen through the Aandhimul Project and its numerous supporters.