Monday, March 30, 2009

So sorry for no pics!

Hey all!
We have many a picture to show but have run short of time between treks. We are off on an 18-day jaunt, after which pictures will be our first priority! So sorry again!
Miss you all!
Love K and C

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hey Macarena, Macarena, Macarena

I don't know where to start with this blog post - so much has happened in the last two weeks. Judy and Rob and the Canadian students arrived in Kathmandu with a bang and a bit of culture shock. I don't know what was more overwhelming, the traffic and lack of any kind of road rules, the burning fires on the streets, lack of power (currently there is only four hours of electricity a day in Kathmandu bc of water shortages), the no toilet paper in the toilet rule, or just everything being the exact opposite of Canada!!!

After three days of craziness in the city, we headed out to the ten day hike in the Helambu region. I don't know what was heavier the clothes in all the packs of the amount of chocolate and junk food the kids bought for the hike. I think they were anticipating NO FOOD in the hills. I swear they each had at least 15 chocolate bars and packs of cookies, but shortly after the first day they starting to realize how heavy everything was and were unloading the junk to anyone willing (luckily Cory and I were willing:-) I was thinking it was a smart thing to do until at every lodge we stayed at for the next nine nights they proceeded to buy the lodge and village out of all chocolate and cookies available. I have never seen people consume so many Mars and Snickers in my life - it was quite impressive. I don't know if it was because of the multitude of choices for each meal (Dal bhat for dinner and noodle soup and potatoes for lunch every day) that caused the chocolate crave but whatever it was it was keeping the villages in business for the next 10 years.

The Hike was beautiful, although after having no rain for six months we were lucky enough to have rain every day for a at least three hours and a few storms to boot. We stopped by many schools that Judy and Rob and the kids had fund raised for and brought supplies too. In Sermatang the last stop and the home of the Yangerma school that Judy and Rob had supported until it was closed by the Moaist in 2001 (they bombed the school and wrecked everything in it, as well as told them they had to close the school). Previous students presented Judy and Rob and the students with a ceremony recognizing their support. They are re-opening the school on April 14 this year after being shut down for the past 8 years, due to civil conflict so we wish them the best of luck!!

The town also held a special cultural night for us to attend to. It was all going well as the villages taught us their cultural dance until they ended it and turned to us Canadians saying - "Now Your Turn!". So what do the Canadians come up with to teach as our cultural dance??? The Macarena, The Chicken Dance and The Hookie Pookey!!! The women loved it!! There we were up at 3,000 metres doing the Macarena with the villagers......who would have thought!

It was an amazing time, we loved every minute of it and can't wait to get out hiking again (well sort of:-)

Love K and C

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't be a fool... stay in School!

The students at "Somata" School in Kathmandu, Nepal certainly know this! Yesterday there was a boy in grade 6 that was called over by the principal... she began looking through his hair as though she was searching for lice... and then she grabbed his hair with all her might and pulled! She tugged and tugged as she yelled many probably bad things in Nepali, and then made him stand like a soldier. At this point, all the other students and teachers gathered around. "Hands by your side!" she yelled; "hands by your side!" she screamed again. Finally, the boy (Vikash is his name) lowered his hands, because he knew what was coming. I walked over to another teacher and whispered, "what the heck's going on?" All of a sudden, one hand across the face, then a second! After the third slap she pushed the boy toward the entrance of the school and the guard opened the gates. She grabbed his bag and threw it outside the school! Then she pushed him again, even though he's much bigger then her. Slowly, with each forceful push, she moved him closer and closer to the door, where he clearly did not want to go. Then, finally, after this went on for about 5 minutes, he picked up his bag and ran out. "Principal Miss found dye in his hair", whispered the teacher beside me; "this is unacceptable behaviour in a formal school".

Viskash returned later that afternoon with chunks of his hair cut out. He looked pretty silly, but he knew it was worth looking foolish to be allowed back to the only place he could go during the day that would give him a chance at a good job in the future. He even said to me that afternoon, "It was a bad thing I did; I'm sorry Sir". For being one of the most popular kids at school and not the greatest student (he would be in grade 8 if he hadn't failed two years in a row), he was pretty ashamed. But all of the students are like this here. They know that without an education, they either end up farming like their parents, or picking up garbage for a living. So staying in school doesn't seem like such a boring choice.

Plus, Somata School only makes them pay 100 Rupees per month to attend (or $1.60 Canadian). Pretty good deal compared to 1000 Rupees at most other schools. It's not easy though; they are brought in front of the entire school and whacked across the face if they do something bad- as many times as necessary too. They have one final exam at the end of the year in each subject; if they fail that, it's back to the same grade the next year. That goes for kindergarten students too! There school is built entirely of Bamboo so they are constantly chasing out owls, mice, birds and dogs which easily make their way into the cozy classrooms for a good night's sleep. And to top it all off, the students only get 2 weeks of holidays all year!!!

Nevertheless, the students are all happy and work extremely hard. They still complain about school sometimes like Canadian students do, and they enjoy the same things like watching movies, playing sports, eating junk food, and just hanging out and bugging each other. And of course, they're all fascinated by my ridiculous hair! So enjoy knowing that even though all the countries around the world are very different from one another, the kids living in them are exactly the same!

Love K and C