My first impressions of Nepal and more specifically, Kathmandu have so far met expectations.
The traffic is crazy, no traffic lights, narrow streets and multitudes of cars, vans, scooters and motorbikes. There are an inordinate number of low-hanging, sometimes broken electrical power lines everywhere. It’s dusty. Like, really dusty. Everyone wears face masks, bandanas or scarves to cover their mouths and noses from the earthquake and building works dust that fills the air. Finally, the people are wonderful. Friendly, honest and helpful and let me keep to myself and get on with things when I want to. All in all a great start!
I had some available time today before flying to Lukla tomorrow to start trekking. I spent it at the Sunsar Maya after school programme. Tim met one of the founders last time he was in Nepal and before we came, we contacted the team to see if there was anything we could bring…. the clear response was ‘craft supplies’! Tim already dropped off the majority of goodies a few weeks ago and I brought the rest today.
Sunsar Maya provides after school care and development for approximately 41 children. Spaces are firstly allocated to children in orphanages and then those from approved low income families. The children attend from 3.30pm – 5.30pm Sunday to Friday and not a minute of that precious time is wasted. The qualified and dedicated staff (top photo) deliver a programme that is not only good for the children’s educational and social development, but one filled with lots of thoughtful touches.
On arrival, the children must brush their teeth. It’s likely this task will not be a priority at home so this way they get brushed at least once a day. They partake in free play time before a nutritious meal is provided. I was kindly given a serving of the dal bhat and can confirm… it was tasty! Lunch is followed by ‘project time’. Today the different age groups participated in a science experiment, sculpture and finger painting. Sometimes its a presentation on social studies, such as talks about other countries.
Another thoughtful touch is in the next session where students gather to talk. They talk with both their teachers who facilitate the conversation and their class mates about their day, thoughts and feelings. Again, this sort of discussion is possibly missed at home. Before leaving, the students all participate in meditation. There is a real focus on mindfulness and it’s great to see such innovative practices happening with Sunsar Maya.
The best part was seeing how the children engaged with the tasks and interacted with each other. They all come from different schools and it was a pleasure to see them working together, problem solving and simply having a great time.
Sunsar Maya also provide women’s literacy classes in the mornings which I look forward to visiting when I am back in Kathmandu. They also have ambitions to purchase laptops to offer computer education and books to provide a library to the neighbourhood. Something the low socio-economic area about 10km out from the centre of Kathmandu, would greatly benefit from.
If you would like to donate, my husband Tim set up a page with various amounts (link below). The page is managed by commit change, a fundraising platform that actually takes 0% of donations made! If you felt like giving, it would go a long way towards assisting these children and their community.