Saturday, August 6, 2011

Long time no speak!

Well hello there everyone, sorry for the long delay since my last update, I’ll try to make up for it with an information packed blog this week!

Tom's farewell
So, as always there has been a fair bit of chopping and changing with our team members.  We said goodbye to Kari and Tom who have served Nepal well with their great work.  Tom was treated to the full works of a goodbye from Annurpurna Primary, singing, dancing, red powder all over his face, flowers, always, this kind of party was good fun but tough because it’s the end of a mini-era.  Kari had a much more reserved, though no less meaningful send off from Shree Krishna.  Hers was conducted in the staff room with just a smudge of red powder from the Head Teacher and a snack of the finest biscuits available.  Nice!

We also said hello to Louise who has wasted no time in getting herself off to and settled in Bhalam Village where she is staying in a homestay and working at the local community school there.  We haven’t seen so much of her because she literally flew by Pokhara on her way between Kathmandu and the village and is making the most of her time off by heading off trekking with her host’s daughter.  That said, she seems to be most happy there whenever we talk on the phone and staff at the school have nothing but positive things to say about her.  Louise is a qualified teacher in the UK and so has been supporting and training staff at the school.  As in the other schools we work with, classes here tend to run at the pace set by the textbook and are rarely modified to take into account the levels or needs of the children.  As such, the whole team are planning to head up there next week to support Lousie in delivering a full afternoon’s training at Bhalam focussing on recognising and adapting to the needs of individual within the class.

Shree Krishna school finally opened up after its monsoon holidays and so Kari got a good week of teaching in there.  Despite being a very different environment from which she is used to teaching in at home she had a great time and the children and staff loved having her there.  They were particularly excited by her delivery of stickers for good work and came up with all manner of ingenious methods to try to wheedle extras from her.  The children took advantage of the 40+ class size and general chaos and mayhem within the school to come up for their sticker before promptly rejoining the back of the queue to get another.  This scam was quickly foiled when Kari noticed the torn paper in their exercise books where they had ripped off their previous sticker.  Unfazed by this they simply adapted their plans and rejoined the queue after re-writing their entire class notes out a second time on a fresh page.  Kari was rightly pleased with herself for spotting these underhand dealings, but we suspect that many a child succeeded in taking home an extra sticker or two or three...!
APS Kids writing their letters to the UK
Annurpurna Primary School is also open again now with brand new toilets courtesy of a new government initiative to ensure all schools are suitably hygienic.  Very good news.  They are delighted to have Victoria back again this year, one teacher said she thought she was dreaming when she saw her face!  Victoria also seems to be just as happy to be back with her class and is doing a great job.  We had a lovely session there last week courtesy of Kerra who volunteered at APS earlier this year.  During her time here she got the children to write letters to her class in the UK and a few weeks ago we received replies from them.  We took these letters and photos into the children at APS who were most excited to see their letters on the wall in a school in the UK.  We quickly got to work in sending our own replies to our new found international friends telling them all about ourselves, our time off and our town.   

Our weekly visits to the Asha Foundation are still lots of fun.  Kari took all of the children and some staff to the Mountain Museum on the bus, quite an adventure but most definitely worth it!  We’ve also had a few good sessions at the home.  At the request of the older children we brought along some nail varnish and left with garish blue and red nails.  Some of the older kids had guitar classes from Tom, although these were slightly interrupted by the youngest child, Assim, sneaking up behind them and un-tuning their guitars!  This week we took along some straws and a bottle of washing up liquid, mixed it with water and let the children blow bubbles.  This was most fun but did get slightly out of hand when we realised that there was now slippery washing up liquid ALL over the steps, oops?!  We did clean it up though and everywhere smelled lovely and lemon fresh afterwards...

We have seen some changes at SCIAN too.  One of the ladies we used to work with is now back in full time education which is great news as this has been her main ambition since an accident left her paralysed 5 years ago.  This left us with just one lady to work with, Esther.  Until recently she lived alone, close to SCIAN’s vocational training centre where she is employed as a seamstress.  Last month, however, she was joined by 3 more ladies which makes her life much more sociable and has given us some new friends to work with.  All are keen to spend time with us learning English and sharing our cultures and experiences.  Last week Kari and Philippa took Esther into town for momos and cold drinks.  Not only was this a tasty and fun excursion, it also gave Esther the chance to get out and about somewhere that is difficult for her to get to alone given the wheelchair un-friendly streets of Pokhara!

The Street Kids are still being their usual boisterous entertaining selves, treating us to impromptu displays of acrobatics, singing and dancing.  We had a nice time with them for Kari’s last day sharing biscuits and mango drinks (although the latter were saved for breakfast the next day) and all of the children got a nice new coloured name plate for their beds.  We were a bit sad to see that one of the younger children has now left the centre, but happy to hear that he has been moved to a permanent children’s home down the road.

PoD made worksheets for teaching
Outside of our volunteering hours we have been making new resources to be shared between placements, grading each at a different level to suit different ages and abilities.  We’ve been enjoying the run up to Teej, a Nepali festival in which women all dress up in their finest red saris, paint their hands with elaborate henna and decorate their arms with colourful bangles.  We’ve also spent a lot of time getting wet in big monsoon rains, eating nice cake and relaxing at the Silk Road with live music and amazing cocktails.  That’s about it for this whistlestop tour of the past few weeks of PoD Life.  All that remains is for me to give you some tips about what to bring if you are coming, or thinking of coming soon...

·         We have started to make books and worksheets using pictures from magazines and asking questions about them, i.e. there are 5 people in this picture, how do they know each other, where do they live etc. etc.  If you have any interesting pictures that could prompt a discussion then do bring that.
·         Our crayon and pencil stocks are running low so replenishments for this would be good.
·         A power monkey is good value for charging up mobiles, cameras etc.  for when there is no power – which is fairly often!

If you would like to join our team and help with the good work we are doing in Nepal, please contact the UK office for more information on how to book.

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