In a remote corner of Nepal, surrounded by remote and inaccessible valleys with mountain passes over 5,000 meters, is the Dolpo region. Hidden, wild and isolated, the Dolpo area occupies 15% of the area of Nepal and is the largest district in the country.
It is extremely difficult to reach, arriving at the small airport of Juphal at 2,490 meters a.s.l., you continue on the few communicating roads on foot or horseback. Isolation, on the one hand, has preserved this region from contamination and nature is wild and untamed, while on the other hand it has marginalized it in relation to the development plans of the country. For this reason the region of the Mid West, which is part of Dolpo, is one of the poorest and most backward areas of Nepal.
The Dolpo region is inhabited by Tibetan people, still devoted to the pre-Buddhist and animist religion “Bon Po”.
In these valleys, where life is difficult and tough, in 2008 abbot Geshe Nyima Woser, with the help of local families, built the first floor of a school, the Gangchen Meri, destined to become a primary school recognized by the Nepalese government to ensure quality education to orphans and children of poor Tibetan families. While waiting to receive this recognition the school gave lessons in Tibetan, Nepali, English, mathematics and social science during extra-curricular hours to 50 children, 5 of them orphans. Given the distance from their villages of origin, 25 children board at the school.
While there is a public school system in Nepal, it does not ensure the teaching of Tibetan, and government schools often do not guarantee quality education – the opportunity for higher education for children from the most vulnerable social groups is reduced to zero. In addition, the government school in this area has not given families necessary safety guarantees having been built on the slope of a hill at risk of landslides and of flooding due to its proximity of a river.
For these reasons, the communities of Hurikot and Kaigon have strongly requested the creation of a safer school with a higher quality of teaching that will also give their children the opportunity to stay in touch with their roots and their culture.
Geshe Nyima Woser’s project foresees the construction of two floors to ensure adequate space for living and for the school. In fact, some children living 4 or 5 days’ walk from the school are housed in the building. However, economic problems have not allowed the abbot to finish the work. For this reason, we have received a request for help and have started to organize our support to complete the construction of the school.
The project was presented to the Tavola Valdese which decided to finance it and we were able to begin construction of the new buildings for the Gangchen Meri.
In September 2012, the staff of ASIA, along with an engineer hired for the purpose, visited the Gangchen Meri school to carry out an inspection for the preparation of the drawings and the final project for the extension. The original idea to build a second floor to the existing structure was quickly abandoned due to the inadequacy of the existing structure. Hence a new site was identified, adjacent to the building with the classrooms and belonging to the school, on which to build a new building independent of the other. The mission then carried out the surveys and measurements on the basis of which new technical drawings were drawn up, for a total of about 170 square meters, including an inner courtyard. In this way the new spaces were guaranteed: 9 rooms to house students, plus two bathrooms.
Work began in December 2012. The local community has participated on a voluntary basis with building especially with regard to locating and transporting local materials: wood and stones.
The whole building has been constructed with local materials seeing as the transport of goods can only be done on people’s backs or by donkey or yak. There are no roads in the area that can be used by motor vehicles. All goods that are brought to Dolpo arrive via plane or helicopter and are then transported on foot or by yak for 3-5 days. For this reason, imported materials mean a lot of extra costs.
The only materials purchased from outside were the metal sheets for the roof and the glass for the windows. The extension of the construction work over the month of May 2013, the month of the opening of the school year, made it impossible to enroll more students.
The new academic year will begin in May 2014. The school is finished and furnished and we already have 20 new children enrolled. The Dolpo blue school is ready to accompany generations of young Tibetans in their growth ensuring them their right to education and preserving their roots.
To ensure the children of Gangchen Meri dignified living conditions and to promote the opportunity to receive an education for the children of poor families and orphans, ASIA has decided to open the long distance support project at this school as well.
The funds raised will be used to cover the school costs of the students (uniform, stationery, books, enrolment, etc.) but also to ensure the improvement of services and the quality of teaching and the school environment. In this sense, funds will be made available for additional furniture and equipment for the school, contributing to the efforts of the Monastery to furnish the school.
If you would like to distance support a child at the Dolpo blue school, visit our website www.asia-ngo.org/en and fill in the form to start a sponsorship, indicating in the note “child in Dolpo”, or write to Roberta at firstname.lastname@example.org