Close to ten months ago, I wrote you about my project in Nepal at Lalit Bikash School. As I prepare to return there the end of next month, I wanted to let you know what has happened as a result of the generosity and caring of so many people.
In January, a friend of mine who teaches fifth grade in Pawtucket asked me to do a presentation for her class. The children were so enthusiastic to learn about Nepal and its students. At one point, I let the cat out of bag by saying they were going to start a pen pal project with the Nepali students (their teacher hadn't told them yet) and one little boy's arms shot up, with fists raised, shouting "yes!" I loved seeing their excitement about getting to know children their age half way around the world.
A friend of mine suggested I started a blog to keep everyone abreast of what was happening with the project. That was a new experience and always fascinating to see where people were who were reading it. Over its lifetime (the past 8 months), there were viewers from Germany, Russia, South Africa, France, Australia, Cyprus, U.K.,Kazakhstan as well as of course USA and Nepal.
I started receiving generous donations from friends all over the U.S.; some earmarked for computers, some for books and school supplies, and some for uniforms.
Early in February I was able to send $1200 for them to purchase three new flat screen computers (a first for them), uniforms and school supplies. I also sent money for them to buy a digital camera and soon I was receiving photos of them setting up the new computers, followed by photos of students using the new computers.
As people donated books and money for shipping, I would send boxes of books. Many people donated great children's books, including the Blanding LIbrary in Rehoboth. The challenge was always to get the $77 needed to ship each 15 lb box(!) The good news is that there was a tracking number and I could always look online to see where the package was. Once I saw it had arrived for processing in Kathmandu, I'd contact TN (the English teacher) and let him know he would be getting notification soon to be able to pick it up. I was able to send four boxes of books over the past 9 months.
In March, I gave a presentation at the Blanding LIbrary, sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Thirty people showed up to hear about my trip to Nepal and my involvement with the school there. Once again, people were extremely generous, donating enough money for me to send the school to have 56 uniforms made!
A psychiatrist colleague of mine in Barrington mentioned the project to her son's teacher who convinced the other second grade teachers in the school to have a fundraiser for the Lalit Bikash School. They raised close to $200 which translated into another 25 uniforms.
In April I was asked to do a presentation for a second grade class at Palmer River School in Rehoboth. I love presenting to the children because they are always so enthusiastic and interested in learning about these children in such a far away culture. The students collected money for more uniforms for the Nepali students.
One of the highlights for me was receiving the photos (see below) of the presentation done at the Lalit Bikash School in July for all the students, parents, teachers, principal and district superintendent to present the new uniforms.
The most recent donations have allowed the school to purchase microphones and speakers with a battery back up to use at school assemblies. Up to this point, each time they had a program, they had to rent the equipment.
Currently I'm preparing to return to Nepal for several weeks in December. I can't wait to spend time with the stunts at the school and see the computer room and the library with the infusion of English language books from Rehoboth. I'll also be doing a 10 day trek again with my dear friend and guide, Dash lal. I'll be staying with his family before and after the trek. I was touched by their offer. His nephew Sanjeev and I have already made plans to spend a day together visiting Buddhist monasteries before the trek.
I have a couple requests. I plan to take Dash lal a used iPhone 4s. He leads primarily Japanese tourists and very few phones there are able to be used to message in Japanese. If you have upgraded and still have a 4s, I'd be happy to buy it. It needs to have been on either T-Mobile or AT&T network to be able to be used in Nepal (needs to be a GSM-equipped phone, as opposed to CDMA, used by Verizon). I've learned more than I ever expected to researching the differences between locked and unlocked, CDMA and GSM phones, etc. Also, if you have an older smartphone that you would like to donate, I would love to take them along to give to the family of Dash lal. It is so expensive for them to get any technology, they are grateful for everything we can provide. Also, I have one last box of books to send so would love to get enough money to ship them ($77).
Thank you again for your support, caring, donations of books and money, and interest in knowing more about the needs of the students in Nepal. If you have any questions or are ever interested in traveling to Nepal, I'd be happy to help in any way. I know the best guide in Nepal!
with gratitude & love,