Tashi Waldorf School and Teacher Training

Newsletter - Summer 2000

Dear Friends,

After four months of very hard work, The Children of Nepal is very proud to announce the birth of Tashi Waldorf School. Tashi in Tibetan means all that is good and that certainly has been the case so far. We now have two kindergartens with fourteen little ones (3 and 4 year olds) who come from different cultural and economic backgrounds. To see all of these children in one classroom is really a historical moment. Our first parent's meeting was very moving as we had upper and middle class parents sitting together with very poor parents. The poor families still live in mud huts or in one room that is home to the entire family. In the beginning the parents from the higher classes felt uncomfortable. As we explained that our school is non-profit and that our goal is to provide meaningful early childhood education and introduce social integration they were all willing to be a part of this vision. As the children sat in a circle, with their parents sitting behind them, they played peacefully together and got to know their classrooms and toys. It was beautiful to watch their play, so pure and untainted by any understanding of the cultural or social prejudices that exist here.

The caste system in Nepal is closely linked with economic status. Historically only higher castes have had access to education as they have been the religious leaders. Today the majority of senior positions in both the public and private sectors are held by the high castes. The population in Nepal is not only made up of Hindu castes but also includes Buddhist groups such as Tibetans and Sherpas and tribes, such as Limbu, Rai and Tamang who's religions are a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism. By mixing children in the classroom from these different cultural backgrounds we are building bridges between these groups. With the experiences and friendships built in these early years the children will view themselves as Nepalese instead of only as part of their own caste or tribe. As educated adults they will contribute to Nepal as a whole not just their particular group and therefore improve the conditions of this country.

I now would like to tell you the stories of a few of the children in our school:

Sunita is much older than the other children in her class, she is 6. Although we are only accepting children ages 3 and 4 we decided to let Sunita join our school, as she needs our help very much. Sunita's father is a carpet weaver who was laid off and her mother works as construction labourer. Through observing Sunita we realized her development is slow and she has some serious learning difficulties. Sunita wasn't in school before she joined us, as her father was not interested in investing in Sunita as she needed special attention. While meeting with her mother we learned that Sunita's father is abusing her, as he doesn't know how to relate to her. Sunita is very bubbly and often doesn't pay attention when you talk to her. This has caused her father to reach high levels of frustration where he has severely hit Sunita on the head and even a case where he hung her by her feet. We have reached an agreement with Sunita's father, we will try to help her, but he has had to promise not to hit her anymore. We have given him a job at the school as handyman/security guard and also given a part time job to her mother as well as a place to stay. Sunita is shining in school and is no trouble at all. She is taking everything in and is very eager to participate in all the activities. She is making amazing progress every day.

Shuvashini on the other hand comes from an upper class family. Her father is a helicopter pilot and her mother runs a computer-training institute. Her privileged background is not an issue. Shuvashini is open, gentle and caring to all her classmates. Her parents completely support the idea of social integration and are very happy to have their child in such a nice environment.

Dipa is a little 3 year old with a spirit as strong as fire. Her mother ran away with another man so Dipa lives at her grandparent's house. Her grandparents are her main caretakers, as her father is not responding to his role as a parent. She calls her father "Dai" which means big brother in Nepali. In order to help her family where the grandfather is a labourer, we have hired her grandmother as the school's cook. Labourers are not unionized as in the west. This is one of the lowest paid types of work in Nepal. Instead of buying expensive machinery most work is done manually. For example, moving bricks on a construction site is done by labourers; men, woman and children filling baskets on their backs one brick at a time to transport them ten or twenty feet away.

Kabita's mother ran away and her father left her with her grandmother to marry another woman. He now has 5 children with his second wife. He is not in contact with Kabita. Kabita's grandmother is working as construction labourer and is the only one who supports Kabita and her older sister. They live in a mud hut. Her grandmother is a very special woman. It is heart breaking to see this woman, who should be enjoying her old age while having her children take care of her, raising two young children as well as doing backbreaking work to support them.

Each child at our school brings with them a history and this newsletter is not long enough to tell all of their stories. Our parents are labourers, carpet weavers, secretaries and business people and are very happy to take part in our school and help as much as they can. Those who can afford to, pay full tuition, those who cannot contribute whatever they can, whether partial tuition or by volunteering at the school. The mothers who do not work have started to sew and knit things to raise funds for the school. As you can see a community is being built with very eager parents but it is not enough in order to financially support our school since we are providing much more than education. Each day we provide a snack, lunch and a multivitamin supplement as well as medical care and clothing when needed. For those families who cannot afford to pay, we are looking for sponsors for their children. We have several sponsors but we need more. The school renovation is far from being complete. We need to raise funds to build the final kindergartens as we are using temporary spaces at the moment and buy swings, slides and a seesaw for the playground. We have available our Project Proposal which explains the objectives, plans and budgets for Tashi Waldorf School and Teacher Training Program. Please let us know if you would like a copy of the proposal in order to fundraise on our behalf.

Our Teacher Training Program is well underway. We conducted our first teacher training seminar in April with Ben Cherry from Australia leading the course. We have four other seminars planned for 2000 with teacher trainers coming from New Zealand, England, Austria and India. Each trainer covers their own travel costs. Each seminar is attended by the teaching community in Kathmandu.

As always we thank each and every one of you for your support in the past. At this time of new beginnnings we need your continued support more than ever. Trusting in your understanding, we thank you for your help.

Until the next time, sincerely yours,

Namaste and Tashi Delek,

Meyrav Mor,
Director, Children of Nepal

Everyone at Children Of Nepal & Tashi Waldorf School

You can help:

1. Please send a donation to the associations as listed below
2. Sponsor a child for $25 a month. Your sponsorship will go towards the child's education, school
supplies, a warm nutritious meal each day, clothes and medical care.
3. Tell your friends and encourage them to make a contribution
4. Publish this newsletter in your school, organization, or community newsletter.
5. Pass this newsletter onto everyone you have already shared our project with.
6. If you are visiting Nepal let us know and we would be delighted to have you come to see us.
7. If you receive this newsletter by mail, let us know if you wish to receive it by email.

The Rudolf Steiner Foundation
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: "The Children of Nepal"
Building 1002B, Thoreau Center, Presidio
P. O Box 29915
San Francisco, CA 94129-0915, USA
Tel: 415 561 3900
Donations are tax deductable in the USA.

Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiner e.V.
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: "The Children of Nepal - Project #4405"
Kopenicker Str. 175
Berlin, D-10997, Germany
Tel: 030 61 70 26 30

Children of Nepal Ireland Internationaal Hulpfonds
c/o John Daffy
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: Doire Fea "Children of Nepal"
Grallagh, Nenagh Hoofdstraat 14b
Co. Tipperary, Ireland LA Driebergen, NL-3972, The Netherlands
Email: daffyj@gofree.indigo.ie Tel: 0343 53 60 67