Tashi Waldorf School and Teacher Training

Newsletter - Christmas 2000

Dear Friends,

What a busy year we've had! Our new initiatives have taken root and we know they will continue to grow in the coming year. Tashi Waldorf School, which opened in June, is flourishing and Tashi Teacher-Training will continue on a part-time basis in 2001. Without the continued support of our contributors and volunteers this would not be possible and we'd like to take to take this opportunity to thank you all and wish you a peaceful Christmas and Hanukah and the very best in the coming year

While December is festival time in the west with every one caught up in the whirl of preparations, we can breathe a sigh of relief up here in the Himalayas as the festive season has already been and gone. In Nepal, the biggest festival happens in late autumn. The Dashain festival is dedicated to the goddess Durga and tied to the lunar calendar. It occurs sometime in October/November. There is an elaborate and beautiful folk tale about a time, long ago, when the goddess Durga came to the rescue of the people of the earth and the other gods by defeating a powerful demon who wanted to destroy the human race. The Dashain festival commemorates this and offers thanks to Durga for her protection. Dashain is a time when families get together to eat, drink and make merry! There are many beautiful customs and traditions associated with the festival. In the kindergarten, the teachers followed all the traditional preparations with the children and on the last day before the holidays, we invited their parents to our own Dashain celebration.

Two weeks before, the teachers planted corn, wheat, rice and barley seeds in clay pots in the Kindergarten. The seedlings were covered and they decorated the pots with red and yellow, the traditional colours for this festival. Each day the teachers would light incense, bless the seedlings and water them. This is called gahtastapona and the seedlings are grown as an offering to Durga.

The teachers also made leaf plates with the children in preparation for the Dashain feast and there is traditionally a big clean up before the festivities begin (sounds familiar!). On the eve of Dashain it is traditional to make kites so the day before our celebration in the Kindergarten the teachers made kites with the children. The next day their parents came. First, we had a puppet show of the Dashain story. Durga and Kripa were the puppeteers while Chandra told the story. Afterwards we sang songs and had a puja (ceremony) in a tent erected in the garden. There the teachers had created a little shrine with a picture of Durga, sweets, and incense. They made tikka, the traditional paste smudged on the forehead as a blessing, with red powder, rice, and banana. They opened the clay pots and cut the seedlings, which were yellow in colour due to their covered environment and brought them to the shrine. They lit the oil lamp on the shrine and first offered every thing to Durga. The teachers then offered tikka, fruit and seedlings to everyone as is customary for people to do in their homes. Afterwards we had a delicious Dashain feast on traditional leaf plates and the children played with their kites.

Since Dashain we have made a number of improvements to the school. We have, much to the children's delight, got some play equipment for our playground including a traditional wooden swing, a seesaw and balance beam. In addition, with the help of a young German volunteer Veronica and our handy man Yam we have created an animal corner. To date we have three guinea pigs but plan to expand into fowl with the help of our cook Baratama who is a real chicken expert! The children love feeding the guinea pigs and the little creatures are adjusting well to their new home.

On Wednesday evenings we have a parents craft group. Currently they are learning to make stuffed camels. Once they have mastered the tricky art of this toy they will move on to elephants and other assorted creatures! Our craft group will produce toys, which we can sell abroad to generate some income for the school.

Developing our teacher-training program has become a primary focus. We were delighted to publish 'Fire in the Heart, Part 1' this August with a strong endorsement from Tribhuvan University. It is the first in a three part series of training manuals which Meyrav has been working extremely hard on. We have now established our part-time program for the coming year with teacher trainers coming from India, New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands, and Austria. The training program is open to the public and to date we have received a very positive response from other schools, groups, and teachers. We are delighted that our work is reaching such a wide audience. In 2002 we will commence the full time teacher-training program but need your help to complete renovations to our facilities. We are working on establishing a relationship with a foreign University and with Tribhuvan University here in Nepal to ensure that our trainees can receive meaningful accreditation on completion of their studies with us.

Our biggest task financially in the New Year is to continue renovating the factory building that houses our school. We plan to create three large kindergarten classrooms and use the two existing smaller classrooms for teacher training. This will allow us to increase enrollment from 14 to 40 children. We need to renovate an out-building to house our library, arts and crafts, and drawing studios. We have created a child sponsorship program and need more participants to sponsor children already with us as well as to increase the number of children attending Tashi Waldorf School.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our newest supporters in Ireland whose valiant efforts have enabled Fionnuala to return to work with us for the coming year, and our Australian supporters who Sue Collins of Mount Barker Waldorf School is currently organizing. It's starting to feel very international in this school! It is wonderful to think that so many people here and abroad are joined in the creation of this project, which is bringing great benefit to many people and children here. Thank you all for continuing to support this important work. With your help, we strive to offer the children of Nepal a holistic and nurturing educational foundation, which will stay with them throughout their lives. The greatest gift we can give our children is education.

Until the next time, sincerely yours,

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