Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer holidays and challenges in Nepal

The summer holidays are here!  Well, in Nepal anyways...of course, that doesn’t mean that our volunteers are kicking back and relaxing, oh no, they are hard at work planning and running summer schools at Annurpurna Primary (APS) and Shree Krishna Secondary (SKSS) schools.  Whilst schools provide the venue for classes, the projects are essentially PoD initiatives run and resourced 100% by our volunteers.  Attendance is voluntary but the popularity of the sessions ensures that we get on average 8-10 children each day at APS – not bad for a school with 30 students!  Unfortunately, our sessions at SKSS turned out to be a little less successful...

Ready for class at the Street Kids' Centre
Our summer programme at SKSS was all set to go, but come Monday morning when our volunteers rocked up armed with resources and games, no students came.  It soon emerged that most crucial part of the preparations had been overlooked – the teachers had forgotten to tell the pupils and there was no way to contact students once school had broken up, arghhh!  Undeterred, our volunteers transferred their sessions to the Street Kids Centre.  Whilst this is obviously unfortunate for students at SKSS, there is a general sense of agreement within the PoD Team that this is potentially a much more worthwhile venue.  Many of the children living at the centre have had a disrupted or non-existent education up to this point, so the extra tuition and attention they are currently receiving is invaluable in giving them an opportunity to catch up to and progress with their classmates.

In another setback, torrential monsoon rained off our weekly visit to the Asha Foundation, but we did have a very productive and focussed volunteers’ meeting.  A recurrent issue apparent at all of our placements is a lack of resources and access to fundamental amenities.  Local staff and the community work very hard to provide children with decent facilities, but with little or no resources or training this is not always possible.  Our key concern is the hygiene standards at placements.  Some children have no access to running water and all placements are hindered by poor understandings of basic hygiene issues such as washing hands and keeping kitchen and toilet activities separate.  So, in true PoD spirit we saw this as a challenge and an opportunity to do some good and concluded our meeting determined to fundraise money for water tanks and to look into commissioning hygiene training for staff. If you would like to contribute to this you can visit our fundraising page to donate.

Alice making our elephant
In more successful news, we got very creative making resources.  Bangles were fashioned out of water bottles, snakes and rockets grew out of toilet roll tubes and a fantastic pin the nose on the elephant game was drawn out by Alice.  Other achievements included teaching children at Street Kids the Macarena and, perhaps more productively, teaching 4 digit subtraction to the children at APS and starting kids at Ward 6 daycare centre off on learning how to write.  Phew! We even managed to squeeze in a couple of exciting white water rafting trips.

Despite the challenges that this week has thrown up, I'm left with an overall sense of achievement and pride in the way in which our amazing volunteers have overcome these issues and gone on to serve the local community as best we can.

Tips for upcoming volunteers:
·         Bring a red pen!  The children get very excited if you act like a ‘real’ teacher and mark their work in red ink!
 Homework guides Schofield and Sims Key Stage 2 upwards are useful for lesson planning and ideas.
·         If you like the sound of what we are doing here, just get stuck in!  There is no need to be nervous as there is heaps of support available and the rewards are immeasurable.

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 projects and how to apply.

No comments:

Post a Comment