School life in Nepal is very different to that in the UK. But whilst the challenges the children face at school may differ, in other ways their lives are similar - pupils love to play games, sing songs, learn and make friends.
The aim of the charity, Classrooms in the Clouds, is to ensure that every child has access to a school with good quality teaching and clean running water, so that children can have the same opportunities for a happy childhood with hope and aspirations, that our children do.
In April 2019, I visited the Shree Bakhapalam Secondary School and Shree Sagarmatha Secondary School to witness first hand the fantastic work of Classrooms in the Clouds and to see the new buildings the charity has helped to fund and build. We also met some of the teachers that Dudley schools are sponsoring. Here you can read letters from school children who tell us about their daily lives, and how the charity is making a difference.
Sally Walters, Editor of Raring2go!
"My name is Anisha Rai.
I am eleven years old and I study in grade seven at Shree Bakhapalam Secondary School, Sotang. I live with my mom and my younger sister. My dad passed away when I was a very young and ever since my mom has been raising me and my sister. Life is very tough for single mother because in our country there isn’t any facility as such provided by the government for single mothers. So, my mom works very hard in the farm to raise us. We also help her in the farm in the morning before school and in the evening after school. School education is free so we don’t need to spend much on education but we still need money to buy book, stationery and lunch during school. I eat meal before school and usually don’t carry any lunch to school. And when I am back home, I have some snacks if available. Before school in the morning, I help my mom in the kitchen with daily chores or help her in the farm if there is anything, she needs help with. When mom is busy working in the farm, I cook meals and do the dishes. During school vacation, I usually do extra job to earn money for my family. Recently, I have been crushing rocks for aggregates, and collecting sand at the river bank, which I sell to a construction site and earn some money.
I like studying. My school is only 5 minutes distance from my house unlike some of my classmates. One of my friends walks an hour and half to reach the school and has to walk back same amount of distance to get home. I know it’s tough for them but I think education is important. It helps us understand things better and makes life easier. At school, I have about 20 friends. Not everyone is regular at school. Sometimes we need to help our family at home so myself and my friends don’t attend school on those times. Also, if we are sick and are not in condition to go to school, we don’t. But there are some friends who don’t like going to school. They just like strolling in the jungle, grazing cattle, swimming in the river and playing with friends. I like to go to school. At school, we learn new things. We can use the library and the teachers teach us new games and songs. We learn English. My English is not that good. I don’t know, may be because except for our English Teacher none of the other teachers communicate in English. Our English Teacher also speaks in Nepali most of the times except during lesson, he uses both English and Nepali. Math is another tough subject. Since there in no one to guide with homework at home, I don’t practice much maths at home. I like studying Nepali. The books have nice stories and poems, which I love reading. Nepali isn’t as difficult as English is. One of the best thing about my school is the playground. We have nice play area compared to some other schools in the mountains of Nepal. I play volleyball with my friends during the break. Boys play separate and girls play separate. There is recently clean filtered water supplied to the school and we have drinking water just outside the classrooms. Not many schools in the mountain have such facility. We also have clean water in the toilet. I like my school very much.
After completing my school, I am thinking of going to my maternal uncle’s house in Udayapur. My uncle supports me with my education when my mom or I am not able. He said he will invest for my higher studies so; I will go to live at his place. I wonder if I could become nurse in future. Nurses take care of sick people and many people in the village get sick. There are not enough doctors and nurses in the village. If I am able to study well, I will become a nurse, I will work in the health post in the village and help the sick people in my village."
BY: ANISHA RAI
"My name is Anjana Nachharing Rai.
I study at Shree Bakhapalam Secondary School. I am 14 years old. I joined Shree Bakhapalam Secondary School this academic year. I actually live in a village called Rog. It is about an hour and half distance from the school. Our village only has primary school so, I have to walk to Bakhapalam every day for my school. Along with me there are about 12-15 other friends from my village who walk to Bakhaplam for study. We have to walk all the way down the river, which takes about forty minute and then climb uphill for another forty to fifty minutes to get to the school. If you look at our village from the school. It looks like it’s on a near hill on the other side of the river but when you walk it takes long. Our school starts at 10 so, I live home at 8:30. I need to cook meal before 8 to eat before I leave for school. Sometimes when we are in rush due to some other activities, we skip our meal to make sure we get to school on time. There are 9 members in my family. Since our family is huge, it’s very challenging cooking for everyone. I am the youngest in the family and I used to do most of the kitchen chores when I went to the other school. But now my siblings help. In the evening I get home at 6. In the winter time, it’s very dark when I am back home. So, most of the time, I walk home with my friends like the others.
Bakhapalam is a very nice school. My previous school wasn’t this nice. We didn’t have such good building and infrastructure at our previous school as compared to Bakhapalam. We also have computer lab and science lab along with the library. Our teacher hasn’t done much practical classes in science lesson as he says he wants to help us with the theories first. Actually, I don’t have experience of using lab equipment in science lesson. Hope I get to learn it here at Bakhapalam. Our teacher said we will have team from Classrooms in the Clouds and Engineers without Borders, Germany who will come and help us with practical lessons in science. They will also help us organise science exhibitions. I have never seen or been involved in a science exhibition before and I am excited about it. At the school, I also like the library. We have library lesson every week where we can choose the books of our choice and read them. The library was also set up by Classrooms in the Clouds Nepal. They have put good books for us to read. The school has also added more books.
Recently the same organization also provided us menstrual health training and distributed us re-usable menstrual health pads. These re-usable pads are very important for us. In the village women generally use old cloths and rags as preventive during menstruation, which is not hygienic. Some of the girls don’t come to school during menstruation because they don’t feel comfortable physically. But during the training we practiced some yoga poses, which could help relieve the physical and mental discomfort during menstruation. Since there is clean drinkable water, we don’t have any problem as such in the wash room for us to clean during menstruation. We girls, we talk to our teacher Tulasa Basnet if we have any such problem related to menstruation at school. Not many schools have female teachers in the secondary level. In the villages female teachers are limited to primary grade. We are thankful that we have female teacher in the secondary grade as well.
In next two years I will be appearing my SEE exams. After SEE exams I will be again studying in another school which is another twenty minutes away from this school. I am not yet sure what I want to study. But if I score good marks in SEE exams, I want to study commerce. In near future I would like to run agricultural business in the village. I want to do agricultural business because most of the people in the village are dependent on agriculture for living and we can produce different crops in the village. If I learn good business skills and farming skills, I am sure I will make a good profit."
By: Anjana Nachhiring Rai
If you'd like to find out more about the good work of Classrooms in the Clouds, and how your child's school can help to sponsor a teacher, click here.