Nepal Trip 2015

We arrived in Kathmandu on 20th November and having been held there for a couple of days we set off for East of Nepal in somewhat trying circumstances caused by the blockade of fuel and supplies at the Indian border. The fuel blockade in which India denies involvement is causing significant problems in both all aspects of everyday life:
        queues at fuel stations
        queues and disputes over bottled gas
        problems with food supplies to homes and restaurants, particularly fresh food
        delays and changes to flights

Despite all this Narendra did famously and managed to move us around the East (a problematic area at the best of times) with considerable aplomb.

On Wednesday 25th November we were at Sangsabu school for the opening ceremony - this is one of the schools renovated under the 2014 Global Grant in partnership with the Pahar Trust and Pokhara Fishtail Rotary Club. The school looks look very fine indeed. 

We were well and truly garlanded, and royally entertained by local drummers and dancers. 

We feasted upon some interesting parts of a goat given in honour of the occasion by the Committee and a then in the evening on a goat donated by the village in celebration - both meals were traditionally Nepalese and the same is true of goats in Nepal as it is of pigs in the UK - eating everything but the squeak ..

Most importantly the classrooms are in use and the schoolchildren are very pleased with them.

The following day (Thursday 26th November) we made our way back down to the valley bottom aiming to visit and review the Health Post and school at Ickabu.
Unfortunately we lost time and had to miss these opportunities and continue directly to Churrwa where we were to stay the evening. 

Soon after we arrived a tired schoolmistress and her accompanying children and goat arrived from Cupertal (some 1000m above Churrwa) She had heard we were coming and had brought another goat for us - this one we kept, naming him Richard, the third, of course!). 

This goat is alive and well and now lives at 8600feet on Sangmu's farm - he would welcome any UK visitors (preferably those averse to goat eating......)

On Friday 27th November we reached over Lower Lingkhim School and were able to discuss the school's future plans with the teachers and to enjoy further eating and drinking in our honour. 

We were well garlanded and in this subsistence farming area we could see the obvious commitment of both the school sponsor and the headteacher (and his staff) to education for the children. The community itself finds the funding of an additional IT teacher a significant burden but recognises the critical nature of this learning for they children. 

They are woefully short of computer equipment and as there was an opportunity to access Government funding for 60% of the cost of 2 laptops Tim and I were able to complete that purchase for them - if anyone can (would like to) help by subsidising the salary of a teacher (4 000 rupees* a month) then that would be both marvellously generous and hugely welcomed by  for this community. 

*Current rate is 160 rupees to the pound sterling so around £25 per month - if routed through the Pahar Trust this can be Gift Aided and higher rate tax relief claimed by the donor.

From the school we made our way back to Sangmu's house where the goat could be safely left until we felt peckish again. That evening we enjoyed (but I for one failed to imitate) Sherpa dancing which relies on singing and rhythmically placing one's foot on the floor - as with all things it sounds simple but outwitted the simplest amongst us (me!)

Nevertheless Pauline looked resplendent in her Sherpa ensemble and we did try very hard to hold our end up against a crack formation dancing team from the Sherpa nation........


The following day and after more Tong-Ba (millet beer) at 6:30 a.m. we departed for Suketar Health Post and onwards to Techambo School.

The Health Post had been funded by Clifton Rotary in 2007 and constructed with technical advice from the Pahar Trust and the school at Techambu had been privately funded by the Macfarlane family of London but had also had donations via the Pahar Trust for toilets and other improvements.

Whilst in Techambo we met their confident and forward thinking head who had great plains for the school and for the community. It was becoming clear at the point that there is a very strong link between the appointment of the correct head teacher and the success of the school - more interestingly the same appointment could also help with the modernisation of village approaches to sanitation and to life in general. 

I also encountered here the smaller toilet in Nepal, a challenge to use in every respect, from entering to manoeuvring to leaving........

It was on this day that we became aware of a transport banda that was due for Sunday 29th November again this was linked to India and the blockade of fuel. It was an ever-present spectre on this trip, India is quite clearly bullying and intimidating this small and already crippled country with its tactics and the effects of its own desires for the future of Nepal. There is little to no reporting of this in the UK and yet the effects on the population are growing was you will see in later reports.

A banda is a national strike, in this case for transport workers and they tend to be effective. The unofficial enforcement tactics include violence or worse - the theft, other removal or damaging of the vehicle (taxi, van, or truck) that produces the future income for a family. That threat is enough to prevent almost all transport operators from breaking the strike.

Late in the day it was apparent that the strike would affect the rest of our trip if we could not get near to Badhrapur airport that night - Narendra triumphed eventually at a significant cost obtained a vehicle to drive us through the night to Birtimode Busstop.

Arriving at around 0300hrs shaken rattled and rolled by the journey to the accompaniment of Indian music we fell gratefully into our beds. 

Next to the West and as we were travelling over there, Ron was already visiting Gilung school (part of the 2015 Global Grant) in a marathon 7 hour Jeep day.....

As Tim Pauline and I arrived we were joined at Kathmandu airport by Linda and a friend, Jen and we travelled onward together.

Travelling in the West was generally more straightforward and our thanks are due to Basu at the Hotel Adam for his help and flexibility in our accommodation needs through our stay.

Our commitments in the the West would mean that we would be separating apart from a trip to Bharaburi school.

The other projects that were visited between us in the West were Kolma, Maj Thum, Singde, Pasgaon, Ghandruk 

We were also able to meet with individuals that were sponsored and supported by Rotarians and to also have the opportunity to visit and consider many of the schools that will be supported in the GG 2015 being organised by Ron together with the Pokhara Fishtail Rotary Club.

We were all entertained admirably by the members of Pokhara Fishtail during our stay and we are all most grateful to them for their time and their care of us.

This was ultimately a successful visit with much to do in the future and much benefit that can be delivered to the communities and schools that we have supported and will be supporting in the future

More importantly without the current interference in Nepal's internal politics the people and communities of the country would recover much more quickly from the natural disasters that have befallen them - the inability to rebuild because cement cannot be imported is unconscionable and our efforts will be as nought of this situation continues.

We continue to wish Nepal all the best in the future and to work to support them in their struggles. Hopefully the politicians of all countries will come to see the harm they do to individuals within Nepal by their inaction, change cannot come soon enough.