GORKHA SCHOOL IS FINISHED!
We are very pleased to report that thanks many people, the Shree Jana Jagriti Primary School in Gorkha is finished.
This school was one of the areas worst affected by the earthquake in 2015 and is in one of the poorest areas where a minority caste are prevalent (Dalit).
There are over 135 primary school children who are now in a wonderful school with great classrooms, toilets and play areas.
This school is twinned with Blessed Sacrament School in Liverpool where they have done amazing things to raise money to help this project. As time goes on, we are hoping this link will become stronger and mutually beneficial to the children and teachers in both countries.
We need to thank our partners at The Mandala Organisation, Mahendra Thapa, Milan Tamang and now our IYH Manager Shanta Nepali. They are the people who make things happen and have the trust of the local people. Only so much can be done by email, everything else happens because of them.
We have now built five schools. This means the children are not as vulnerable to exploitation because they are not on the street but in schools. However, it did not take long to realise we needed to build more than just walls. Once the main structures were up, we decided to focus on one school at a time. We want the children, teachers and communities to be proud of the environment and quality of education so that they have a reason to believe in it. We started with Gorkha.
Here is a list of things that have been achieved:
We have upgraded the standard of each classroom inside as well as outside by providing white boards, desks, chairs, bookshelves and carpets in the early learning classrooms. We will be providing computers and more when we feel the time is right. We do not have a "before" photo of the classrooms but trust us, they were not good. Now it feels like you are walking into a positive learning environment.
We were told that many children did not come to school because they were hungry. We introduced a lunch program in May, kindly sponsored by our Italian friends, Silvia & Patrizia ( see previous blog) . We provided a kitchen, a cook and food for the school year. It is going well and children's attendance has already improved. We will be recording the figures to see if this makes a difference in the long term. We all know that if children are well fed, they can concentrate for longer and learn better.
We need to find a way to make this program more self sustaining. We are working on it.
Children get ill regularly from infections caused by bad hygiene routines. This means they miss school. We introduced hygiene training. Every day in assembly, the teachers do a health check which includes things like checking that they children have been cutting their nails, brushing their teeth and washing their clothes. They all know they need to wash their hands before eating and after going to the toilet.
Already, the children have learnt to check themselves before coming to school and are aware of their health and hygiene.
New Rules in the Classroom
In the classroom, they now have teams. Each team has a special job. One team cleans the classroom and another team can manage the bookshelves. This is a slow process to teach. We are asking them to create new habits.
The hygiene and team chores are all new habits and routines to learn. These are all life skills for their future and it seems to be working really well!
Gorkha was the first of the schools to benefit from our Volunteers Program. They offered their time and energy and gave us so much insight into the needs of the children, teachers and community. A huge and continuing par of the IYH strategy.
Uniforms have now been provisionally ordered. We are working with our Rotary partners in Canada and once we have the final funding in place, all 700 children from all the schools we are supporting will have a new uniform. This is done with the hope they will be able to feel good about themselves, feel proud and part of a team at school. Also, we hope to provide warmth with a fleece and hat so they can learn in a comfortable environment.
Womens Project plans are in the making. We are again working with our partners at Rotary to fund and create a strategy. We hope to provide workshops and sanitary packs to all the girls and women in each school community. This will enable them to attend school when they have a period.
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