Adhikari Gaun homework club

10th April 2017

My memories of the three weeks NE2 spent in Adhikari Gaun will always be filled with the dozens of children with whom we spent so much time. For a settlement of only 52 households, the village had a huge number of kids and they played a large role in our integration into the community.

Ursula (second right), Sam and Holly run homework club
Ursula (second right), Sam and Holly run homework club

The Nepali school year is such that their exams were taking place during our stay. This gave us the perfect opportunity to help them revise for both their English and Maths exams in the form of a ‘homework club’. What started as a small group of shy children nervously pointing to the exercise they wanted to go over in a battered textbook, slowly turned into the majority of the under 15 population of the village sprinting across the terraces to the shelter at five o’clock every evening.

Holly helping Adhikari Gaun children with their homework
Ursula’s NE2 teammate, Holly, helps the Adhikari Gaun children with their homework

I was amazed at the central role that the teaching of English occupies in their curriculum – Bimkhala, a girl of 4, already knew both the Nepali and English alphabets. However, it was only going over a reading exercise, that this fact struck me as almost controversial: there was a song encouraging students to work hard and fly up into the metaphorical sky of learning but to always ‘stay in Nepal until you die’. It suddenly hit me that by being taught English, the children are being provided with a skill that enables those that are prepared to study hard to either leave the village for Kathmandu or go to work abroad. This doesn’t seem sustainable for a village of Adhikari Gaun’s size, so the song is understandable.

Ursula working on foundations
Ursula hard at work on her Adhikari Gaun day job

When we returned to the training centre for changeover at the end of phase 2, Björn Söderberg, the founder of Raleigh’s housebuilding partner Build Up Nepal, explained to us in more depth the sustainable nature of the construction process. It’s not just from an environmental perspective. Forty villages have been provided with the tools and training to replace houses damaged by the 2015 earthquake using seismic resilient techniques. The hope is that the villagers will then continue using the skills they have learnt once Raleigh has left. Between 6 and 12 jobs in the manufacturing of bricks and other parts of the construction process are thereby created in each village. This generates income in what are very poor communities and encourages entrepreneurship amongst the villagers.

So it seems there is a choice for the children of Adhikari Gaun, that Raleigh’s partnership with Build Up Nepal has made possible; either leave their village behind, following in the footsteps of many, or stay and strengthen their community through their own entrepreneurship and initiative. I really hope at least some of the children we spent time with will choose the latter.

Words: Ursula
Photos: Min, Saoirse, Tim and Ursula

What’s next?
16 April – end of Phase 3; return to training centre
18 April – ‘endex’ (end of Expedition); Venturers depart
22 April – Volunteer Managers depart

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Youth Economic Empowerment Nepal