We have all been very busy in Meghauli, where the opportunities to assist Clinic Nepal are seemingly limitless, as are the ambitions and the willingness of the community members here. To accommodate this, we have split our team up into three groups, with two team members focusing on each facet of our project in order to better serve and understand the need there as well as plan for years to come. We definitely could not accomplish all that we do without Saurav, our constant guide and savior, and Gabby, our British friend who is one part boundless energy, two parts comic relief, and all innovation.
To begin, we joined Meagan and Gabby, two medical interns, and two Nepali volunteer doctors at one of the health camps provided by Clinic Nepal, which are rare in the hot summer and monsoon season. We are working on gathering more information on what a medical intern does on a daily basis at the Friendship Clinic as well as how they can participate in the health camps, what it takes to implement a health camp, what current special treatments are needed by Clinic Nepal patients, and how GPE can contribute more to this facet of Clinic Nepal in the future.
Gabby has also written a report on her daily efforts at the clinic. Additionally, Joa has discussed with Singh the possibility of providing menstrual cups, such as the Diva Cup, at future gynecological health camps, in order to further promote the Clinic Nepal’s efforts to reduce unnecessary waste and provide a more sanitary and sustainable alternative to women. Really excited about this, because it could make a huge difference in the lives of young girls going to school as well as all the women are so busy every day doing housework, taking care of their children, working in the fields, and often balancing several other responsibilities on top of that. Currently, cloth pads, often inconvenient and unsanitary, and disposable pads, expensive and also uncomfortable, are the main sources. Menstruation is a stigma in Nepali culture where menstruating women often should not cook, enter the kitchen, or sometimes touch male members of their family, so the added inconvenience of having a period, especially without Midol, heating pads, and other Western comforts, can be enough to push a young girl to stop going to school or miss out on other opportunities.
Sophia, Gabby, and Isabela have been working with the Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten teachers in order to further improve the content and efficiency of the Montessori style education offered. There are three age groups: Play (2-3 years old), Nursery (3-4 years old), and Lower Kindergarten (LKG) (4-5 years old). Last year, WLK only had Play and Nursery groups, but in the past year WLK continues to grow and different volunteers come to contribute their time and effort (more useful art murals decorate the walls this year!) and more tables (following in the same fashion as ours last year), so they have added LKG and plan to add an Upper Kindergarten (UKG) soon. Each class presents its own challenges and opportunities.
In the beginning, the GPE Nepal would help conduct lessons and corral children, but it became apparent that this would not be sustainable once they left Meghauli.
Instead, volunteers began to more closely observe WLK and most importantly listen to and brainstorm with the teachers specifically about wanted to improve or change. The result has been that the teachers believe in their own ability and creativity, which has led them to work on establishing a structure to their daily routine. Now there is a rotation schedule to replace the old system of one teacher per age group. Under the new schedule, each teacher has one or two subjects they specialize, with cooking duty rotating. The idea was all their own, and the volunteers merely helped facilitate the implementation in a manner that could be more easily sustained.
Ryan also started leading morning yoga at the beginning of every day which the teachers have now taken over and Joa is working on painting a small mural on the wall that illustrates the positions. Ian, Gabby, and Joa painted a mural that is currently being used to teach colors and shapes in the LKG room. Tess and Joa also painted a small mural in the main room that lists the days of the week. The team also improved the alphabet wall mural in the Nursery room from last year.
Fixed the border and the signature on the alphabet wall mural, the paint of which doesn’t seem like it will hold forever, so we are thinking of bringing clear coat next year.
In addition to implementing a new daily schedule, the volunteers have been having intermediate English lessons with the teachers every day after the students go home. The hope is that this will greatly improve the communication between the teachers and future volunteers as well as improve the ability to teach the kindergarten students correct English pronunciation and phrases. The teachers will have notes and worksheets so they can recall the English lessons and be able to show new volunteers their progress in order to keep learning English throughout the year. Additionally, a basic English language instruction book has been provided as a reference for new teachers to the kindergarten.
A bit of Montessori style education philosophy hanging up in the Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten.
Ian and Joa have been working to plan the summer camp with the Clinic Nepal Friendship Scout Troop. The language barrier between volunteers and scouts can be difficult but is ameliorated by the presence of Saurav acting as translator and much more, and it is obvious that the scouts derive worthwhile perspectives on how to interact with their peers. Ian, with ample experience in team-building challenge course exercises, has led the scouts through games that require a team effort, positive group dynamics, and innovative thinking. These activities test the scouts’ abilities to communicate with each other, work together to accomplish tasks, and recognize progress and regression within their team. We combined debriefs of these activities with lessons on leadership and follower-ship, culture and communication, and working as a team to achieve a shared vision. This effort has proven to be a favorite component for the scouts because all of the learning occurs either during or after a simple but challenging game, and it can be applied to their efforts in Meghauli.
Scouts participating in communication challenge course game called Silent Opera, in which this group cannot speak but must give nonverbal instructions to the person who must verbally communicate those same instructions to a blindfolded person behind them.
Shiva, Ushtav, Sonam, Abishek, Ian, Prashant, and Subash (Tiger team) playing Nepali Capture the Flag.
Ryan, Isabel,a Sophia, and Saurav with a tikka-covered Gabby, Srijana, and scouts at Gabby’s farewell ceremony.
In the coming week, this new knowledge will be put to the test as the scouts engage their community in order to affect their own positive, sustainable changes. We encouraged them to pursue their collective vision for improving Meghauli after we helped them define it, by simply asking questions, such as, “What do you want to see change in your community?” The scouts all agreed on three main areas and have split up into groups to organize their efforts: teaching their community and WLK about the importance of personal hygiene and water sanitation, teaching their community about taking care of the environment and using the reusable bags GPE Nepal is donating, and improving their scout room and scout group. More on that to come later!
Volunteers are also incorporating interactive lessons on subjects of particular interest to the scouts, including art, music, science, and English.
Ryan teaching about the life of a star, the solar system, and space expeditions.
Saurav decked out in a crown of paper crafts made by the scouts.
Ushtav, Tess, Laxuman, Sunam, Ram, and Saurav goofing around after a meeting.
Tess and Ryan have focused on organizing English language lessons for roughly 30 adults all varying in age, location, occupation, and reasons for requesting and attending the English classes. Some want to improve communication with their English-speaking guests, while others simply wish to help the occasional lost traveler. Local businessmen and women would like to expand their business’ capabilities, while young high school graduates hope to increase their potential employment opportunities.
Santa, a housewife, Sita, a student, Chandu and children, Prince and Binti, another student, a shopkeeper, and two brothers all in the basic English language class.
Four classes have been established, each catering to a different level of English language knowledge: one at the basic level (Ryan and Joa), one at the intermediate level (Ian and Gabby), one at the advanced level (Tess), and the fourth class is with the WLK teachers (Sophia, Gabby, and Isabela).
Ryan and Isabela teaching the basic English language class.
An extensive amount of research, some helpful donations provided by family of GPE volunteers, and a lot of trial and error has resulted in relatively successful English language learning despite lack of training. However, four weeks of lessons every morning (7am-8am) is not nearly enough time to learn a foreign language. Additionally, all students face various obstacles preventing them from attending consistently, such as rice planting season, mandatory housework, tourist home-stays, and school exams.
There are many downsides to our project being in the summer, including the unrelenting heat, except in the time of monsoon, where it is also the season for rice planting, making it difficult for many students to come. We hope to be able to come at a different season in the future.
We also found that allowing young scout students to attend was discouraging to adults and we spent a couple days confused as to why the adults were no longer attending until we found the reason and told the scouts they could no longer attend. In addition to attendance, we have been collecting other data including occupation, reasons for learning, best time of day, best time of year, and best location for future lessons. With all of this knowledge in mind, we hope to plan English lessons for the project next year around these needs, including knowing the right time to come, the right time of day to teach, and the right kind of class structure to implement.
Ryan facilitating role play conversations between Santa, housewife, and Sita, student, in basic English class.
Accordingly, both Meghauli and Global Peace Exchange want this to be a sustainable project, and in order to continue we need your help. If you are an adventurous, motivated student looking to take initiative and be a part of a rewarding experience that directly benefits communities abroad, join GPE this semester. Immersing yourself in service within another culture does not only help others, but also allows for self-development in a unique, well-rounded way. As you can see, we need a varied group composed of individuals interested in early education, the medical field, teaching English as a foreign language, community development, leadership and team-building, and, of course, sustainable development.
In our free time some of us have gone on a walk or a boat ride or an elephant ride through the Chitwan National Park to see rhino and more up close. We also all went for an elephant bath, which was an experience any of us will never forget.
Altogether in the river for an elephant bath!
Saurav attempting to recreate some fancy elephant tricks.
Ian and Suman cooking corn on the roof before barbecuing some of the best, freshest chicken any of us have had.
Valid proof that the local geese have been stealing our makai (Nepali for corn)!
We now leave you with some other worthy shots taken in and around Meghauli.
Buffalo interrupting traffic in Bharatpur, town near Meghauli.
Boys fishing out of the cola (Nepali for river) in Meghauli.