Our Children Learn Important Life Skills
After such a long absence of news, (slight) apologies for sending newsletters 2 weeks running. There’s news and more photos to share and some important information to update and clarify last week’s fundraiser announcement.
As well as normal national curriculum studies, all the Namgon children, the boys at the monastic school and our girls in the nunnery school learn important life lessons about caring for their homes (the school buildings) and contributing to the local environment and community as well as taking some responsibility for growing some of their fresh food and so on. The school are clear about the importance of teaching compassion and altruism and gratitude in addition to their formal school studies.
Since lock down, as we mentioned last time, the boys and girls have been sharing schools in Pokhara and Mustang. Formal school lessons are not taking place, as with all schools in Nepal just now. Of course adults take on the bigger and heavier work, even so, the children have always had to help out with taking care of their school buildings, laundry, helping serve food and washing dishes, and caring for each other to build gratitude and a sense of caring community. This education in “life skills” may not be part of the taught lessons – it does teach a sense of responsibility and helps prepare our students for life outside of school. We thought you might like to see some of their efforts during this past week (which are routine activities not specific to lock down) .
Of course our children (the boys at the monastic school and the girls too) are like all children everywhere. Sometimes they are naughty, fighting, don’t want to clean the dishes, wont tidy their rooms ….. Nevertheless the school ethos is clear ……
School life goes on even if there are no formal lessons taking place.
Some questions about our latest fundraiser
Some questions have been asked about our latest fundraiser to provide humanitarian aid to the local community around the school in Upper Mustang. These are interesting questions that hadn’t occurred to me and I thought others may have them too. So I’m writing the newsletter to clarify a few points and especially as our supporter community has grown over the past 8 years since the school opened, we might have neglected to share this information. Please keep your questions and feedback coming. We do listen. And so in the spirit of sharing information, which I hope is of interest…….
The focus of our support has not changed.
Our charity constitution hasn’t changed since its inception. In summary, we are about “advancing the education of girls from socially and economically disadvantaged communities in remote regions of Nepal”. We will always focus on the well being and education of our girls and provide the best support we can for the school, who receive no government grants or funding.
Our girls come from very impoverished areas and some are in school because of their social situation and vulnerability. Some are orphans or who have limited family who can care for them, some come specifically because it is a Buddhist school to receive a secular and Buddhist education, some come just to receive any education at all as there are no schools in their area, some are from nomadic families who don’t have access to schools, some are with us because their family is too poor to feed them and so on……
As I mentioned above, the school’s key founder Khenpo Tsewang, believes passionately in giving the children (boys and girls) a full secular education to enable their flourishing in the wider world as well as giving a good Buddhist education should some wish to ordain later as monks or nuns, and importantly too, in educating the children in becoming caring, compassionate human beings. A critical aspect of this educational ethos, is for the children to gain a sense of responsibility and gratitude for their food, opportunity to have an education (which they otherwise probably would not have) and for the world at large including the local communities.
The schools in Pokhara have traditionally opened their facilities to the wider community for example when we have taken volunteer dentists to do health checks and previously supporters from Singapore have sponsored a field hospital for the wider community etc.
The monastic school in Pokhara recently provided humanitarian aid to impoverished villagers around Pokhara as we reported in our last newsletter. And we are inspired to help in the provision of the same care for the wider community around the school in Mustang. I initially hoped to raise £400 to help this school effort and it has since become obvious that the need is far greater and there are 165 families in desperate need so I upped the target amount. Many of these families will be related to our children either closely or distantly. In the Buddhist tradition, those who have a little help those who have nothing…….. and so our children are encouraged to think this way too
This is a targeted fundraiser.
When we have a fundraiser, the monies collected are used for that purpose – we do our best to ensure this happens and the school always share the receipts for the purchases made. The monies collected for this fundraiser will be used to buy rice to help feed hungry families in the villages surrounding the school. The school have identified 165 families who do not have enough food because either they can’t grow enough or have no income from day-work due to the pandemic lock down in place for the past 3 months. Traditionally, without any welfare provided from the government, the monasteries have done their best to help local communities too. This is how it is in these remote areas.
We can assure our sponsors that those regular monthly donations that people generously give and the sponsorship monies for individual children wont be used for this humanitarian aid effort. Sponsorship donations are “ring fenced” to support the children in school – for their food, accommodation, school materials etc. and are transferred to the school in January each year (which is why we need the monies by the end of December). All other monies we collect are used for paying our teachers a fair wage and for specific projects, building new toilets, buying beds when we have more children arrive and so on……..
We are fundraising specifically this time, to help the school help others in their community. The children will be involved in distributing the food – they also learn they have responsibility to “pay it forwards” – showing kindness to others in gratitude for the kindness shown to them when people have supported them by providing a home and, food and an education they otherwise wouldn’t have. They learn that we all rely on others and all need to give and receive support……. This is the ethos of the school.
This sense of responsibility & kindness spreads….
I have been fortunate to have been invited to give talks at several schools in the UK about our project and without exception, the students (age range 5 to 18) in those schools have also shown incredible kindness and support for their fellow students on the other side of the world and from a different culture. So although our financial effort is focused on the children, more specifically the vulnerable girls, in Upper Mustang, other children are definitely influenced by this work.
Anyway I hope that has helped explain a little more about why we exist, the focus of our efforts and that we do specifically use funds to the best of our ability for the purpose they are given.
All the monies given to this specific fundraiser will be used to provide humanitarian aid in the surrounding villages of Upper Mustang. The regular donation and sponsorship monies, that you so generously offer, are not being channelled into this project. Please be assured.
We are so very grateful to everyone who has so generously supported us either by donation or spreading the word on social media.
The initial target of £400 was quickly achieved and now I have expanded to try and help all 165 families that the school has identified as being desperate for help. Without, welfare assistance from the government, these families, already impoverished, and now without even a meagre income, are now struggling to buy food.
With the fundraiser and FB donations I’m over half way to being able to provide this relief and the school are already preparing to buy the rice early next week. We will try to buy barley, tea and soap later but for now the need is for rice even to provide a basic meal.
The cost of that cup of coffee treat we haven’t been able to have since lock down will help buy 3Kg of rice, which will feel several people for a week.
£12 ($15USD) will enable us to donate enough rice to feel a family a basic meal a day for almost month.
All amounts will be gratefully received
And if you prefer your donation can remain anonymous. As always neither we nor the school deduct expenses at all and all the money donated, with the exception of a small international bank charge which we can’t avoid, will be used to buy rice for hungry community members.
As always, donations can be sent via clicking on the link buttons, or by bank transfer or cheque to the Altevette Project’s registered address below.
We have raised enough money to buy rice for almost 120 families so far. Can you help us reach our 165 families target
Please help us if you can? Our children are well cared for, are managing to grow some food themselves and have plenty to eat. Please help them to help others less fortunate too as part of their education in life skills, compassion and altruism.
Thank you so much. Our little Binu (baby) speaks for us all…..
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