Jo, Co-Founder and Trustee, shares her thoughts on her most recent visit.
Last month I took a group of thirteen incredible people to volunteer at one of the schools we support in the Central Region of Nepal. I always love my trips there and this visit was no exception. All those in the group have helped us to raise money for the charity and it was tremendous to be able to share with them the work we have done so far and will continue to do with their contributions.
On most of our previous trips we have visited all of the schools we support and it is always great, of course, to see the progress being made. However everyone always loves the time with the kids most and always say they would like to do more. So this time we tried something different. We visited only two schools but spent three days volunteering at just one. It was wonderful!
First stop was Shree Songhai Devi School in Kodaree, a few hours from Kathmandu. It is the most recent school to be supported by In Your Hands. In November and December 2018 Pauline and Sue had visited all of the other communities we support to roll out Women’s Health Workshops in local language and in partnership with Days for Girls. We began our support for the Kodaree community in 2019 so we were keen to run a health workshop there too.
The women’s health workshop took place at the school on Sunday 16th February. See more details about the workshop itself in Sue’s report here http://www.inyourhandscharity.org/index.php/blog/womens-project-report-sue/
Our group went along too to see the women’s health workshop in action (which was fabulous thanks to the Days for Girls trainer Rajani) and also to help entertain the kids so the ladies and girls could attend, listen and learn without having to worry about their children for a short time.
We were greeted, as always in Nepal, with the warmest of welcomes. Our own group was made up of six adults and 8 kids, the youngest was 8 and football crazy and the oldest was 17. It was a real delight to see our group get involved immediately playing games with all of the different groups from the school. Such great excitement and everyone having so much fun – football, parachute games, and singing and learning Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes together!
The following day we drove up to Sundara Devi Primary School where we camped for two nights. This is a small government school that is in a very remote area in Central Nepal and set on a steep hillside. So steep in fact that we had to camp in the playground putting the tents up once the pupils had left school for the day and taking them down in the mornings so there was space for outdoor games.
The first afternoon at Sundara Devi there were more games and, of course, great excitement. However, as soon as the kids left the school at 4pm the painting of the classrooms began in earnest! Most of the classrooms don’t have mains electricity but that was not slowing anyone down… never have head torches been so useful! Thank goodness too for that masking tape we took with us to paint the number square on one of the walls. Both evenings we painted until well after dark and it was fantastic to see the reaction of the children and teachers each morning as they surveyed the progress.
I have been lucky enough to visit the schools and communities we support a number of times since 2015. I always learn something new when I am there and I love that. The learning is not just from the teachers and pupils at the schools, it is from our great friends at The Mandala Organisation, our partners on the ground and also from the groups that are passionate and brave enough to come on these trips with us. This group brought fresh ideas about what to paint on the walls that would help the pupils. They included the number square, a clock to help learn the time and fruits to learn their colours in English, threads to make friendship bracelets for the kids – a huge hit – and colouring books to help the children in the early years ( nursery) to learn their numbers. Story book are always a great success. I bet Julia Donaldson doesn’t realise her books, particularly Monkey Puzzle, are such a big hit in Nepal!
It was a glorious 10 day trip with an inspiring group of people. Huge thanks to them all for joining the adventure. Equally huge thanks to Mahendra, Milan and every single member of the Mandala team who supported the trip and helped to make it the great success it was.
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