Uri kindergarten was built last year in 2012 with the help of a donation from a friend, Rachel. A nice solid square room, plastered with two window openings closed with wooden shutters. However it was empty, cold and uninviting, the community having no funds to improve it further. So an obvious and easy place to make some improvements to.
There are just 40 children in Uri school –a kindergarten and classes 1 to 5. Ages are from 3 to 12. There are six teachers including the headmaster, Binesh Jah, Deepak, Dron, Bhabana, Jaganmaya and Ratna, the kindergarten teacher. Most days Ratna takes the tiny ones to sit on the grass outside to keep them warm. When the shutters in the kindergarten are open a cold wind blows through, outsideat least they get a combination of the wind and sunshine for warmth. They spend their entire day copying out A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 etc into battered exercise books. No toys, no games, no additional stimulation of any sort.
A trek back down the mountain and back into Pokhara for supplies. Shelving, paint, hooks, window panes, wood, tools, nails, super glue, varnish and everything I thought I could possibly need, whilst still being able to carry everything back up. In the end it took three porters and myself. In addition there was a big pile of toys, books and board games – some educational, some fun – plus sports rackets and lots more balls!
After three weeks of work, in between taking classes when teachers were absent here is the end result and the children’s first view of their new kindergarten. The snake was a mistake… they ran out screaming when they saw it and had to be coaxed back in.
And that in 2013 was the best Christmas I have ever had!