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aveer's blog #1: summer sarlahi trip

PRE TRIP

Hi there! My name is Aveer Pandey, I am seventeen and studying in the US. I’ve been involved with Hoste Hainse for 6 months (and counting). I’m currently an intern for Hoste Hainse Nepal, where I will be adding to Hoste Hainse’s social pages and promoting our various projects.


I was introduced to Hoste Hainse by my cousin Megha who had done a very similar trip a year ago.


I've been working with the US coordinator Aayushma, as well as volunteers Dillon and Floyd. I spent those first months integrating myself into the amazing group while also conversing to better understand the work I would have ahead. Everyone was very welcoming, and our conversations made me understand the true meaning of Hoste Hainse– to provide our schools across rural communities across Nepal with the necessities they need to eventually self-sustain at no cost to the children. This all led up to my trip to Sarlahi, Nepal, a rural village about 230 miles south of the capital Kathmandu, where I was kindly allowed to visit the four schools.


When I arrived in Nepal, I got to meet with Krishna dai (executive director) and Rashmi didi (executive program manager) where we spoke about goals of the upcoming trip. Krishna dai advised me to approach the schools with an open mind, with the intention of learning about their communities and seeking ideas to make them better.


TRIP

I arrived in Simara airport at around 7:30 in the morning, walking out of the small, yet crowded airport. Krishna dai was waiting right there for me (although he couldn’t notice me because of my mask). We then had a quick brief of the day and breakfast and we were on our way!

It was a very serene two hour drive to our first school. While we did face some obstacles, like having to drive through a river, it was mostly smooth sailing on one of Nepal’s only highways. It was trees upon trees upon trees, an amazing sight that ultimately represents Nepal's natural beauty.



What I hope you get out of the blog is information about the schools that portray how they function, while also understanding how they can only continue to function from people like you helping to make a change in the lives of these kids and their communities. Hope you enjoy :)


1. Dhangada School

Right before entering our first school, we were greeted with a fallen concrete telephone pole, evidence of a large storm the day before, the first of many notes taken that day. The significance of this was especially important as this school would have to deal with the blistering heat with the absence of electricity for the new ceiling fans.


Upon walking in, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by members of staff with phul ko mala (flower garlands!)





I first visited the water pump, the girls politely pumping the odorous and iron-filled water. The problem is that, as opposed to a standard water tank, the water comes from underground, making this change a project certainly worth considering in the future.





Despite the fact that the school's campus was considerably bigger than I had anticipated, the nearly 750 students tidily and excitedly made their way from morning meeting to their respective grade classes.


With this in mind, I then nervously made my way towards the classrooms, which were cool due to the new openable windows installed to beat the Sarlahi heat. I went from class to class, introducing myself and getting to know the students by asking them general questions about their classes and what they were studying that day. I was greeted with many friendly grins and much enthusiasm from what they were learning in class!






Here is a tenth grader demonstrating how to construct a pentagon using a protractor and compass.






Key notes from Dhangada school:

What is most impressive about this school is the availability for classes from Pre-K to 10th grade. No matter what the grade, the students all seemed curious and interested in the topic at hand. The school building is very nice, with usable chairs and desks and fairly large brick classrooms with whiteboards that allow students to see very easily. Working fans and many windows provide cool air in the blistering heat.


Future project plans:

• Kids wanted a computer lab and cleaner library as of now but can be solved with more funding for teachers.

• Bathrooms also can account for the number of kids there but needs maintenance.

• Water also needs to be cleaner and more pumps are needed

• Finally, a project to build a gate that doesn’t let villagers or animals in. (edit: this has since been built!)


2. Shreepur School


The next school we visited was Shreepur school, accompanied by Krishna Dai, Rashmi didi, and Binay, our wonderful coordinator.

I peered into the school to see classrooms lined up on one floor spanning two small brick buildings - - much different from the large, open Dhangada school. Through this, I noticed that the students from grades 1-5 were all just excited to learn with just as big of smiles.







Here I helped a few second graders read out loud in their English class.










Another thing I noticed was how nice the children were. Here, two students, Akash and Birendra, made me a heart! Something I’ve kept all the way here in America. To me, this shows the immense gratitude the students have for volunteers.



At this point in my journey, the enthusiastic and lively students helped me to overcome my shyness, allowing me to smile along with them :)



I also had the pleasure of being allowed to visit the house of a nearby villager. He recently finished fifth grade, the highest grade available at the school. We are definitely considering adding grades and classrooms to maximize the amount of education for the students while giving opportunities for jobs outside the villages.




And with that we are halfway there! Onto the next school


Key notes from Shreepur school:

Nice looking school with many excited and young students. Yet it only goes up to grade 5, causing many to lose track of education later on, but could be fixed by adding more classrooms.


Future project plans:

• Bathrooms also need to be tended, but are organized well with enough to satisfy the number of children.

• Library needs to be redone or revamped

• Need more whiteboards to replace chalkboards so that students can have an easier time seeing and learning without the dust it creates


3. Sahodwa School

I was again greeted kindly by members and staff with garlands. The first thing I noticed was the well built and large brick school. Three floors with four classrooms in each row.



I noticed the new yellow fencing around the campus, a great new addition to keep villagers out and to protect the students.



Here the 1st graders are hard at work learning the ABC’s. They were excited enough to let me play with their class bhaloo (bear).


When my cousin asked the students what they needed last year, they excitedly said they wanted new balls to play with. Although she couldn’t make it this time, I distributed inflatable balls (and some chocolate!) to all of the four schools! This goes to show how we as an organization take priority to care for the students and teacher’s wants and needs.


Here is me distributing the ball to the jubilant 4th grade class :)




After meeting and getting information from the students, we made our way up to the third floor, where I visited the new library, filled with a great selection of books from Books of Joy. With the help of a librarian, the students can foster a love for books and have time during the day for designated library time!



And with that, we are onto our very last school!


Key notes from Sahodwa school:

Building looked very nice, the gate and fence protected nicely! Kids were all excited and very organized in class.


Future project plans:

• Bathrooms are clean for the most part but would need someone to maintain, or for a maintenance schedule.

• Third floor is capable of holding more students for 9th and 10th grade.

• Outdoor donated faucets broke, so replace with a more durable source (metal)

• With electrical circuit in place, can make project to install ceiling fans like at Dhangada


4. Padariya School


The final school on our long day was Padariya. The smallest of the four schools holds around 250 students and is hidden by large bamboo trees and forest. I was again kindly welcomed with garlands, a sign, and a wonderfully drawn flower by the students. Though the hot day started to take a toll on me, I will still be just as excited to meet the kids and gain information. The kids seemed excited too!



One urgent issue pertaining to this school is that it only has one bathroom stall, located beneath the staircase. Upon asking teachers and students, building a larger bathroom is crucial to them - - certainly a project that we will start soon.


I also got to see their stunning new library, filled with many games like chess and legos while also having a wonderful assortment of books thanks in part to Books of Joy and other donors. This library is different in how it could also be used as a playroom with fun games such as chess and legos!



We finished our day right with the students by distributing their well earned balls and chocolate



Since this was the last school, saying bye was hard. I had bonded so nicely with the students, for that day it felt like I was a student too :)


Key notes from Padariya school:

Despite having the smallest number of students, Padariya shows lots of promise for the future. Specifically, the spacious library and the multipurpose room can give access to jobs like sewing.


Future project plans:

• However, the bathroom situation needs to be addressed seeing as there are 250 students and one bathroom.

• Along with this, the fencing and gate situation needs to be addressed for safety

• Foster items in multipurpose room and get teachers to teach jobs like sewing and craftsmanship


How you can help


You can make a difference by donating to Project 3K. Project 3K gives a child in need to one of our non-profit, free-of-cost schools in Sarlahi an education for only 3,000 NPR or $30 USD per year. As a sponsor, you will maintain a special connection with your sponsored children– receiving their photos and progress reports each year. With Sarlahi's literacy rate hovering only around 50%, even one year of education can change the lives of these children.


Closing Remarks


Even though I have spent the last months learning and helping online, going to the schools gave me a perspective I couldn’t have otherwise seen. I got to see firsthand how the education that we provide these students reflects our care for the next generation of Nepal. Looking back, the ideas I got for future plans made the trip worth it. Yet the students’ sheer enthusiasm and smiles made the trip memorable. I truly believe that by giving schools the proper resources, teachers and students can use the power of learning to improve their communities.


Also be sure to check out our socials!

@hostehainse on Instagram

@hostehainse on Facebook


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