Monday, June 27, 2011

(PoD) Life is a Rollercoaster!

The PoD Band playing at the Silk Road
This has been an emotional week for the PoD Team with as many ups and downs as you can see in the Himalayas around us!  Highs included the arrival of Brogan, The PoD Band’s debut performance and some time soaring about Pokhara in a paraglider.  Low points were the departure of Prayagha and Ovia, everyone getting stomach bugs and the PoD Band’s insistance that they sing Ronan Keeting’s ‘Life is a rollercoaster’.   Add to this all the highs and lows of volunteering and it’s been quite a week here...

We got a shock on Wednesday with the news that 4 year old Prakash, a new arrival at the Street Kids’ Centre, had ran away.  Fortunately, he was found later that day and is now back at the centre receiving extra support and attention to help him settle in.  Unfortunately, this is a pretty routine situation for those who find it difficult to adjust to the confines and rules of living in a home after life on the streets.  Others, like Prakash, are simply trying to get back to their families.  This incident served to remind us that behind the smiles and friendships we share with the children, the reality of their lives is much harsher than we could ever comprehend.  With this in mind, we are now even more determined to do all that we can to support staff in making the home as welcoming and positive a place as possible and to provide the children with opportunity and space to just be children for a while.

Our ongoing summer school projects are making great progress with volunteers working hard at getting as many children as possible to a standard, basic level in reading, writing and maths.  In doing this we aim to address one of the biggest issues for teachers and volunteers in Nepal, that of the vast range of abilities within one classroom.  We often find ourselves tasked with teaching simple addition to a class in which some children are unable to count to 10 and others are already competent with long division.  This leaves some children totally confused, others bored and teachers at a complete loss, arghhh!  The feedback is that big steps are being made in all areas and, come term time, this should prove invaluable in supporting children in catching up and moving on with their classmates. 

Another high this week came courtesy of some very hard work by Alice.  Concerned by the minimal hygiene levels at the Ward 6 Day Care Centre she has taken it upon herself to improve them.  After designing and producing a poster on why and how hands should be washed, buying some soap and giving a demonstration, the staff now have children lining up to wash their hands properly before and after eating.  Hurrah!  Well done Alice!

APS sending Prayagha off in style
Other small things that put us on a big high this week were a water fight with the Street Kids, getting a child to stop eating a book and actually start reading it, learning Nepali from the children at the Asha Foundation, a fun and heartwarming farewell ceremony for Prayagha at APS and discovering the most tasty cake in the world, ever.

And finally...our current team of PoD volunteers have set themselves a project.  They are looking to fundraise around £600 to furnish both Annurpurna Primary School and Shree Krishna Secondary with whiteboards.  Currently, both schools are using blackboards which are dusty and in desperate need of repair.  Whiteboards would provide a much cleaner, clearer way of teaching.  They will be organising their own fundraisers when they get home, but if you would like to contribute in the meantime, you can visit our fundraising page to make a donation.

Tips for upcoming volunteers
·         Remember that travel and induction days will eat into your placement time and account for this when you are booking.  For example, if you fly from home on Monday you will arrive in Kathmandu on Tuesday, travel to Pokhara on Wednesday , have an induction day on Thursday, join with our PoD day on Friday, have 2 days rest for the weekend and only start at your placement the following Monday.  You will also need to take out 2 days at the end of your trip for travelling back to Kathmandu to catch your flight.  Just something to bear in mind when booking flights and dates, particularly if you are doing a shorter trip, as some of our current volunteers didn’t think about this and have found themselves wishing for extra time!
·         Just say yes!  There is a whole world of opportunities and activities available in Pokhara, so as soon as you get here throw yourself into as many things as possible as quickly as possible.  The sooner you get involved with your placement and the other volunteers, the sooner you will start to reap the rewards of volunteering and Nepal itself.

If you are interested in joining our Team and contributing to the hard work we are doing here, visit our website for more information on how to apply.

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