30 April, 2010

SCHOOL!

A huge commotion this morning. SCHOOL is finally starting! This past month was the equivalent to the US ‘summer vacation’ and now the kids are starting their new school year and new class. The kids go to Hindu VidayaPeeth (HVP) School in Ghorahi (7 km from CPH) which is run by Bhola Yogi (Chintamani Yogi runs the one in Kathmandu, where I stayed for a week before coming to Dang). It is a privately owned school and has over 425 students of which around 120 are sponsored –meaning their school fee, uniforms and book are paid for by someone else. The sponsorship comes from people mainly in the UK but also from the US and Europe.. Because the Yogi family is humanitarians, they focus on the needy. The HVP School in Dang formerly had a hostel or boarding where children could live if their families couldn’t care for them, or they were orphans or lived too far to travel daily to the school. It became logistically difficult to continue to have the children live at the school, so 3 years ago The Children’s Peace Home was established so the kids could live in a more ‘homey’ environment – there are currently 29 kids living at CPH.


That said, the kids have been anxiously waiting for the start of the new school year which was supposed to happen last week. The Maoists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepalese_Civil_War had a strike against all the private schools in Nepal so the kids at HVP (and any other private school) were forbidden to attend. I asked Bhola what would happen if the school DID open and he replied that the Maoists would probably come to the school and kill the head master (him); it sounded like a good idea to keep the school closed. This morning Bhola took off on the motorbike headed for town and he received the news that the ban was lifted for whatever reason (I don’t get news here) and school was finally in session.


A ‘normal’ day here when the kids aren’t in school goes something like this: everyone up around 6 am and around 6:30 breakfast (tea) is ready. Chores are started (animals tended to, ‘yard’ cleaned up from all the debris that blew in the night before, clothes washed, rooms cleaned, garden hand watered, and anything else that may need to be done, like food preparation). Around 10ish they have their first meal of the day; rice/lentils/vegetable. You must fill up because the next and final meal will be around 7:30 pm. After breakfast the kids finish any chores they didn’t finish and start any other projects (such as the older boys have been clearing the former ‘fence’ which was a row of scraggly bushes to make way for the new fence). I have been working with the kids from 11 – 1 everyday, just playing games, and reading and such. At 1:30 they usually gather in Bhola and Jaya’s living area to watch a movie. The afternoons are so hot! If they aren’t watching a movie or after the movie, it’s totally a free for all play time: anything goes (like yesterday we walked though the paddy fields just doing nothing really, but it was good ‘bonding’ time as well as observation of their compassion towards one another). There’s tea and a large snack around 3ish.

They wash/clean up before we all gather for Satsung around 6:30 for an hour before dinner.


That’s a rough draft of a ‘day in the life’ of an orphan at CPH. When there’s not school that is. Today the meal bell rang at 9am and when I went down wondering why it was early I saw many of the kids dressed in their school uniforms and eating ‘with’ the animals. I exclaimed “School today?” and was answered by loud yes’ and big smiles. I guess they were ready to see their friends and start their new classes and a kid can only take so many movies and playing in the fields. They quickly tried to eat and clean up, but the current water shortage made it difficult as none of the pumps were producing water. (I need to look more into this as I don’t know how it’s regulated –sometimes there is tons of water, other times, none).

Once everyone was cleaned up and the eating area cleaned as well, they impatiently waited for the bus. Some of the boys kicked a ball around while the girls gathered together to talk. The little ones adjusted and readjusted their clothes and backpacks and FINALLY they headed to catch the bus down the road. I am staying at CPH today (which will be a long day with no electricity –my laptop only has about an hour left on its battery) but maybe I’ll catch up on my reading (considering I have only been here for a month but have acquired/bought 7 books!)

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