Working on Uri kindergarten has been a huge amount of fun and very rewarding. My plans for staying in Nepal can be best be described as very flexible in that I have no plans. More a case of breathe and see what passes by.
To give a lay of the land, there are three villages I have been involved with – two with Rachel and Pasha – which are the villages of Ghalel and Uri. Uri is where Pasha’s family live, mother, stepfather and sisters. Ghalel is where he grew up and went to school. Uri and Ghalel lie on parallel valleys to each other and the two communities barely cross over. Its a case in Nepal of pretty much staying within your valley, there are no roads except a few walking tracks over the mountains. Kalimati is the next village up from Ghalel and a world away from Uri. It is Uri where I have spent christmas and refurbished the existing kindergarten.
Just before christmas, I get a call from Ram. Kalimati villagers have some projects they need doing and would I be interested in helping? Well with nothing much planned, and not too much more I can usefully do in Uri, I asked that he send me a list of the projects they hoped to do with an idea of costs and I would see if I could help.
A photo of the handwritten list received via sms was long. Building walls to keep bulls out of the school (pictured), sanitation, a new kindergarten, a new school roof as the current one is leaking badly and a host of other work, some of which did not make sense to me, such as paying teachers salaries. Considering the list, I thought the most beneficial and doable, in the time I had, was to replace the school roof (pictured right) which was estimated to cost £1200. The villagers were happy and we agreed to move ahead with it in the New Year. However, in ongoing conversations over the next couple of weeks I soon realised that what was most being discussed and hoped for was a replacement kindergarten.
After much discussion, a proposed budget, plus the assurance from Ram that labour was available I thought why not?
And so to that end I put a call out on Facebook to raise some additional funds to add to my own with a calling sung to the tune of the twelve days of christmas for …
12 wooden shelves
11 crazy board games
10 new windows
9 x lots of stationery
8 bags of cement
7 boxes of exercise books
6ty woolly jumpers
5 balls with bats
4 large buckets of paint
3 x 20 school uniforms
2 trucks of library books
or just cash will do fine! Anyone who feels like spending some of their hard earned, easily spent £ or $s this Christmas on Kalimati school In Nepal email me!
The result of the above call is six generous friends from around the world are contributing. More on these fabulous folks later!
And so starts the Kalimati adventure. We have agreed I will return to the village on the 2nd January to get the project started. Finishing up in Uri, I head down to Pokahra for a refresh – hot showers, western toilets, tourist meals (a respite from the village food) and a soft bed for a couple of days, before heading up to Kalimati.
I have little idea of the challenges of working on Nepali time, a little building experience from Costa Rica and a host of project management experience. This project I determine will go to budget and time-frame.