Sanitary Kit Distribution in Gulmi District
Armed with two huge bags filled with sanitary kits we (Chulie and Marc) took the eight hour bus ride to Pokhara last Saturday, where we met up with the Gurkha Welfare Scheme team to do our latest distribution, in Gulmi District.
We made an early start on Monday, heading out of town along the windy road that leads to Lumbini. Four hours into the journey the jeep veered off onto a dirt road that took us past the hydro-dam before snaking it’s way up and across steep mountain sides. Just when we thought the road couldn’t get any narrower, we turned sharply up a one way track, barely wide enough for the jeep to navigate – and not a safety barrier in sight!
It was mid-afternoon by the time we arrived at Limgha Village and the wonderful welcome we received at Saraswati High School soon made us forget our perilous journey. Although Monday was a public holiday, a long line of students with beautiful smiles were waiting to greet us and we received so many garlands that we could hardly see our feet by the time we entered the staff room to introduce ourselves to the teachers.
We were then given safety helmets and taken up onto the roof of the new classrooms that GWS are building for them. The view was fabulous and we could appreciate how spread out the village is and how far the students have to walk to come to school.
Before it got dark we made our way to a village house that was to be our home for the next two nights. The setting was idyllic and we were kept entertained by the flurry of baby goats that pranced around us and made short work of our unattended garlands! The family took wonderful care of us all and we were served large helpings of delicious dhal bhat and fresh chicken. Clothes that had seemed too warm in Pokhara suddenly seemed very inadequate as night descended and so we all decided on an early night, heading for our cosy beds.
The next morning Goma and Sunita (Social Workers with GWS) were up early, working on final preparations for their class, so Jiwan ( GWS Project Manager for the school) took us for a walk around the village and introduced us to the village blacksmith. Meeting lots of students along the way we arrived at the school just in time to watch the morning exercise session in the playground.
Unfortunately an unexpected national strike had been announced that morning, resulting in the cancellation of the scheduled classes for boys and parents. Interestingly, 97 girls still turned up and it was a real pleasure to sit in on the class and watch Goma and Sunita work so well together as a team. With many years of combined experience behind them, they easily developed a rapport with the girls. They started out by teaching Sanitary Hygiene for Teenagers, followed by a discussion on the physical and mental changes that take place during puberty and also a talk on STD’s. Next came a reminder about how to wash hands properly and finally the girls were shown our sanitary kits, with a demonstration on how to use and wash them correctly. Goma and Sunita kept the class interested by adding a lot of humour, which resulted in a fair amount of giggling throughout!
Just before the sanitary kits were handed out, Chulie said a few words to tell the students about WONDERWorks. We wanted the girls to appreciate that the kits had been made by women and girls less fortunate than themselves and that people from all around the world had generously donated to make it easier for them to come to school regularly and therefore receive a good education.
After another cold night we had a quick cup of hot tea and were on our way home by 7am. We thought the road coming up had been scary but our fears were taken to another level entirely on the way back down! It felt much longer but we were back in Pokhara by mid-afternoon and had a day to rest before taking the long bus journey back to Kathmandu.
This distribution provided 133 students and 3 teachers with sanitary kits and Goma and Sunita will be returning to Limgha Village again soon to hold the missed classes for the boys and parents. We would like to express enormous thanks to the Gurkha Welfare Scheme for all their help with the distribution. Our thanks go out to Sophie Piper for her enthusiastic support of WONDERWorks and all the logistical help she has provided, to Goma and Sunita for all their hard work in preparing and delivering such a professional teaching session, to Jiwan for patiently translating for us and to Lekh, for his careful, skillful driving. We couldn’t have done it without them all!