Good News in a Troubled World

When the world seems to be so troubled and the news brings constant sadness and despair for the terrible things going on in so many places, it was lovely to receive the latest email from Devi Prasad that was filled with good news.

He reported that Covid infection is currently not present in their region so everything is operating normally and people are able to go about their daily routines and work.  This is great news for the school as it is currently able to teach in the school, go about its normal activity as well as lots of extra-curricular activities and generally care for its staff and students in the best possible way without restrictions.  The students are, of course, delighted to be back in regular ‘in school teaching’. He was also able to report that the 39 students eligible for Covid vaccines had now had their second dose. 

The general education in the school continues to be delivered to an excellent standard by our highly motivated and dedicated staff but on top of this, their municipality had organised dance and quiz competitions in late February.  Our school entered this and were pleased to come second and third which they were really pleased with.  Its so good to see the school not only enjoying great academic success but also really encouraging the students to be involved in so many other non-academic activities.  It really works at developing the whole person, which is so important and so pleasing for us as trustees to see.

Devi Prasad was also able to tell us that the school had been given some money by their rural municipality for painting the building.  They have used the money to paint 3 classrooms, 16 front and side windows and 14 doors!  It is great that they received the money as it shows recognition by the municipality and also good that they keep the premises in such good order as that is often not a priority in Nepal! 

It is almost the end of the academic year in Nepal and once again, we are delighted with the progress and achievements that our staff and students are so committed to working towards.  However, none of this would be possible if it were not for our fantastic supporters.  

THANK YOU

Christmas Blog

This time last year, the whole world was still in the terrifying grip of the Covid-19 pandemic BUT the first non-trialvaccine had just been given and hope was on the horizon. The vaccines have certainly transformed life, people have been able to return to socialising, work and school, etc. So, 2021 has seemed more ‘normal’ than 2020! (although, as we know only too well, omicron is threatening to unsettle all this a bit). So, what of our friends in rural Nepal?

They have also seen big changes this year. They have had numerous lockdowns to deal with but they too have seen a return to some level of normality. During lockdowns, the teachers taught the older children online (90% of them managed access to a computer or mobile phone) but taught the younger children outside their own homes. Some lessons took place socially distanced outside, whilst others went ahead in the classrooms. Whatever methods they used, they worked – once again, Shree Gyanjyoti topped the schools in their municipality in the exams. Testament tothe dedication of staff, students and their families.

Lessons outside

It has been a struggle for many in the village. Jobs were lost and other sources of income were drying up. We made an appeal to our supporters for separate donations (every penny donated to LEARN goes directly to the school itself) so that we could help Devi Prasad to feed people in the village who would, otherwise, have gone hungry – people in the village not directly connected with the school but in dire need. The school and the education provided is an incredible resource for the village but the care goes way beyond its walls and we thank you.

Devi Prasad’s latest update, in terms of vaccines, informed us that their Government were vaccinating all over 40 years plus year 12 students. At that time, none of our students had been vaccinated but he was hoping that it wouldn’t be too long before they were. We did ask whether it would be possible for us to buy some vaccines but the Nepali government would not allow purchase of vaccines.

They have managed to install two easy use contactless taps

Letters continue to be exchanged between St. Mary’s in Hawkshaw and our school in Nepal. This has been so wonderful for both schools. The children in both countries look forward to sending and receiving letters. It is such a great link between children in very different circumstances!

How happy and proud does this young man look?

Once again, this year has been a very difficult year for Charities. Michael and Maureen have recently been able to travel and give some talks and sales, but opportunities continue to be very limited. We remain massively grateful to all who support the work of LEARN. Your generosity continues to ensure that ALL children in this little village in Nepal haveaccess to a fantastic education and, therefore, a better future. Never underestimate the difference that your support makes. THANK YOU on behalf of students, their families, staff, LEARN and all those in the village that we have been ableto help.

It always feels uncomfortable thanking people for their generous support and then going on to ask for more. However,we believe so much in all that LEARN does that we need to continue to meet the needs of the school. We are genuinely hugely grateful for all that our supporters do.

However, if you feel able to offer further support:

1. The ‘Gifts for Life’ Certificates make wonderful Christmas presents and were well received by many last year.

2. Donations can be given at any time.

3. Consider setting up a standing order

4. Tell other people about us

5. Invite Michael and Maureen to do a talk and/or sale.

For information on how to do any of the above, visit our website: www.learnnepal.org.uk or email us atenquiries@learnnepal.org.uk

THANK YOU AND MAY YOU HAVE A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR

The Unpredictable Life

So, life here in the UK has changed dramatically yet again over recent weeks.  Boris Johnson’s promised ‘freedom’ day happened and, consequently, life has new joys and new challenges!

Similarly, in Nepal, life continues to be unpredictable.  Recent emails from Devi Prasad have fluctuated between Covid-19 rates going down with some level of normal life and schooling returning and Covid-19 rates rising and lockdowns being the main lifestyle. 

He did report that two of our school teachers had contracted the virus but fortunately they have now made a full recovery.  Sadly though, one of his latest emails informed us that three members of the village had died from the virus. So, our thoughts and prayers are very much with them in these difficult times. 

Our last blog reported that the school had hoped to just squeeze in the final year examinations before the predicted lockdown but unfortunately, the lockdown just beat them to it. Consequently, Nepal like the UK has had to adapt its examination methods. They also opted for a system of grading that utilised the students’ past test/examination performance combined with teacher assessment. Devi Prasad has sent us the school’s examination results which, once again, are outstanding in all ages. He was also delighted to report that (as has now become the norm!) Shree Gyanjyoti School was ranked 1st in their municipality for the eldest year examination results. What a wonderful achievement particularly in the circumstances and a real testament to the dedication and care of all involved with the school (teachers, students, families, LEARN supporters, etc). So thank you to all of you!

The school did reopen again as rates fell due to the lockdown but Devi Prasad’s email late last week informed us that it had just been forced to close again as rates were once again rising in the area.  So unpredictable from one week to the next but one thing that we can be absolutely certain of is that, whether the school is physically open or closed, the staff are continuing to ensure that the students are receiving the best possible care and education that circumstances allow. They are also currently in the process of recruiting for the new school year. 

The weather there is currently a bit mixed but no really heavy rains and planting and farming is the main necessity at the moment.  Although many in the village have lost their jobs and life is so hard for so many, they continue to remain upbeat and optimistic that they, like the rest of the world, will eventually conquer the virus and life (though it may never be quite the same again) will return to some level of normality and predictability.

You may recall that our latest blog included a plea for non-LEARN donations that we could send to help Devi Prasad to supply essential, life-saving supplies to needy people (not necessarily directly connected to the school) in the village. He estimated that the cost of this would be about £1800 and due to the kind donations received from so many of our supporters, we were able to send almost exactly that sum! Thank you! The people receiving those food packages have been so grateful and as trustees of LEARN it has been an absolute blessing to know that, not only have we been able to ensure the continued top class life changing education for all in rural Nepal but we have been able to provide life-giving care to the most needy in the village.  The photos show a few of the people that have been helped by receiving the food packages.

On behalf of the trustees of LEARN, the staff, the families and all of those that we have been able to help through the food programme- THANK YOU! ? Please continue to think of, pray for and support our friends in Nepal. (As a quick aside, my youngest daughter turned 18 last week and Balkrishna Gaire (our school’s headmaster) wished her a very happy birthday via Facebook- what a small world it has become and what a blessing that we can be so close to our relatively distant neighbours. It certainly brought home to me the Biblical question “who is my neighbour?”)

What A Time To Live In Bolton!

Bolton currently has the highest new Covid-19 infection rate in the whole country and there is much speculation that we Boltonians may all be put under local restrictions yet again whilst most of the rest of the country isrevelling in being able to regain most of its freedom.  (The story of Bolton’s life for much of the last 14 months!) 

Last weekend though, my children were able to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine because of where we live.  This means that every member of my family (and much of my extended family) has now received at least one vaccination – what a blessing and what a privilege.  After their vaccinations, we had a little treat visit to a local ice-cream parlour, before coming home to get food out of the freezer to eat after we got home from work/school the following day. 

We may be fed up of the restrictions and missing our family and friends but we have never been in the situation of wondering how we could possibly get enough food and other supplies to survive or whether we would be able to afford life-saving treatment if we could actually find a hospital with enough resources/space left to treat us. The following makes me really appreciate just how lucky I am to live and work where I do – yes, even Bolton ?!! 

On Monday, we received an email from Devi Prasad.  Their village is in lockdown with markets (no popping to the fridge or freezer for more food for our Nepalese families), banks, schools, etc. shut.  Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly and they are beginning to experience some deaths.  Most of the community have lost their jobs and, unlike during the first Nepal lockdown, there is no support or supplies from the government nor NGOs, etc.  Only 7% of the population of Nepal has received a first vaccination and the programme has now been halted due to supplies of the vaccine drying up. 

Devi Prasad estimates that there are 100 families in the village who are in dire need of help and estimates the cost to be about NPR 3000 (£18) per month per family.  He has a plan to be able to distribute food to the families.  However, they will need financial help to be able to do this (and he is also delighted to report that our school community have made 2500 facemasks for the protection of others in the area). 

We are asking, therefore, that if you feel you want to send a donation, no matter how big or small (every penny helps), please send it to Maureen, the Chair of LEARN, as the charity was registered solely to support the school and this appeal falls outside that object.   Donations can be sent:

Directly into Maureen’s EC account:

Maureen Hawksworth 

Sort code: 60-60-06

Account number: 46256539

USING THE REFERENCE: C-19 HELP

or by post to:

Maureen Hawksworth, 9 Brockenhurst Drive, Bolton, BL2 4HP.

A HUGE THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT FINANCIAL OR OTHERWISE. PLEASE KEEP THEIR COMMUNITY IN YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS.

A blog during these strange times!

I thought this would be a good opportunity to update everyone on our school and also how Coronavirus is affecting Nepal.

We last received an update email from Devi Prasad on 16th March.  He told us that the students were in the midst of their annual examinations and that they were doing well.  Once the exams were complete, the end of year school holidays would begin and they would all be off until the start of the new academic year.  During the school holidays, the teachers would be doing preparation and a door to door visiting programme to admit children to the school.  He said that he was hoping and praying that God would aid the parents to make the decision to admit their children to the school. 

He went on to say that they had all seen the photos from the 150th Anniversary at St. Mary’s School, Hawkshaw and they made them very happy.  He said he thanks God for the relationship between the two schools and hopes it will continue forever. 

On that note, I had the privilege of seeing some of the letters from the Nepal students to the Hawkshaw students this week.  I was stunned at the quality of the handwriting and content of these letters.  Most were written by 9 and 10 year olds and were often accompanied by colour and pictures.  It appears that they mostly come from farming or carpentry families and many of them have pets.  One delightful letter said “I have a pet dog, cat, many hens and a buffalo” – anybody else fancy having a pet buffalo? 

Unfortunately, Devi Prasad had just spent a few days in hospital due to a problem with his left amputated leg.  He had been unable to walk but he had just been discharged and the pain was becoming more tolerable.  We pray for him and his continued recovery.  He asked that we pass on their thoughts and Namaste to all family, friends, trustees and supporters. 

We haven’t had any direct update from the school itself about the effect that Coronavirus is having but today we received an update from UMN (United Mission to Nepal).  Their update said that Nepal had just had it’s second confirmed COVID case (whether that is due to actual low numbers or lack of opportunity to test, we do not know) and that the whole of Nepal was beginning a week of total home quarantine and lockdown from 6am today.  The hospitals were staying open and trying to prepare as best as possible for an outbreak – converting TB wards into isolation wards, etc. 

So, we ask that you remember in your thoughts and prayers all associated with our school and the wider community in Nepal as they also face the horrors of this awful pandemic.  What we are witnessing here is not something that any of us would ever want to have to face but Nepal simply does not have the infrastructure/social care system to cope with a largescale outbreak. 

Thank you for your continued support. 

Take care and stay safe! 

LEARN

Trips and Goats

We have received a lovely letter from Devi Prasad Neupane telling us about an educational school trip that students and staff from our school have been on.  During November, they visited Pokhara-Gorkha-Chitwan National Park-GC Temple-Lumbini.  They have sent us some photographs as included in this blog.  It’s fantastic to see a village school being able to provide this kind of experience for its students – something that we just take for granted in this country.

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Also, following a talk given by Michael and Maureen, someone offered to buy a goat to enable one of our more needy school families to start goat farming.  The school have met with the parents and a number of families could really benefit in this way.  Consequently, the ‘goat fund’ is increasing and people are continuing to donate to this fund.  Great news for the families that will benefit.  Each goat costs around £35 and ideally, it would be nice to provide a pair of goats for each of 20 families. 

Thank you as always to our supporters – it is your continued and valued support that makes all of this possible.