Two Schools In Sindhupalchok Receive Sanitary Kits
With five bags of sanitary kits and our overnight packs loaded onto the jeep, we (Bimala and Chulie) were on schedule for the 7am departure to SIndhupalchok. As we made our way out of Kathmandu we couldn’t help but think of Ingrid who, if not for the snow storms in Scotland which caused her flights to be cancelled, would have been with us. She had put months of planning and a huge amount of hard work into raising the funds for these two distributions so we felt bitterly disappointed, not only for Ingrid but also for ourselves as we wouldn’t be enjoying her company on the trip.
We’d been warned that the road conditions to Karthali were bad and sure enough, once past Dhulikhel the road conditions deteriorated rapidly. Progress was slow as the jeep jarred over potholes and rocks, swinging us violently from side to side. At one point there was a detour and to our surprise we found ourselves driving along a stony riverbed! After stopping briefly at Bahrabise to buy fruit for our host we started the steep climb, which locals assured us would lead to the school. The area had been badly impacted by the earthquake and it seemed as though every house along the sand and rubble, that passed for a road, was undergoing some kind of construction work. As we climbed higher and higher we began to doubt that the school could be so far up but everyone we asked along the way pointed upwards so, with little room to turn around anyway, we continued on in good faith. Finally the Shree Rastriya Secondary School came into sight and although the buildings looked a little worse for wear, we concluded that they must have one of the best views any school could hope for!
The only room big enough to accommodate all 150 girls was made of zinc sheets and had been the temporary school built just after the earthquake. With the new building now in place it was being used as the early learning centre. The tots looked rather bemused to suddenly find themselves surrounded by so many teenage girls but soon settled down to quietly observe what was going on. We introduced ourselves and explained why we’d come. Bimala showed the girls the pads and how to use and care for them, which led to some surprisingly frank discussion, revealing that only a very small number of the students had access to disposable sanitary pads. One brave student stood up to thank us for the kits, saying that it would make life much better for them as they currently live in fear of embarrassing leaks on their uniforms. We then handed out 136 sanitary kits to the girls and their teachers, as curious boys peered through the window grills and pre-schoolers looked disappointed at not receiving whatever was in those colourful bags!
We left for our host’s house in the mid-afternoon and came to appreciate the huge distances that both teachers and students walk to reach the school. It took nearly an hour by jeep to get there, although a fair amount of that time did involve picking up and dropping off villagers along the way, who seemed delighted at the prospect of an unexpected ride. We stopped short of having a goat being loaded onto the roof however! The upside to all this was the great comradery it generated, with one lady who was returning from her nephew’s wedding, handing out homemade sweets and Sel roti (similar to a doughnut) to everyone.
We had kindly been invited to stay the night at the family home of Bimala’s friend, Lalita. We received a wonderfully warm welcome and spent the rest of the day exploring the nearby countryside, chatting with neighbours and playing with Lalita’s baby son. We experienced Nepali hospitality at it’s best and were astounded at the generosity and thoughtfulness of this lovely family, who went out of their way to spoil us and make us feel comfortable.
The next morning we were treated to an enormous breakfast before sitting in the sun for a while to warm up and enjoy the view. Clearly word had got out that our jeep was heading down the mountain to the Kshama Devi Higher Secondary School, as quite a few school girls just happened to be passing by as we were saying goodbye. We may have arrived too early in the day because this distribution was a little more chaotic than the previous one, but eventually 185 students and their teachers had received our sanitary kits. As we waved goodbye and made our way towards the jeep, a thirteen year old girl with a beautiful smile, ran after us and pressed a Rhododendron flower into Chulie’s hand. That small gesture made our day and all our efforts feel worthwhile.
We were back on the bumpy road to Kathmandu by 11.30am and only stopped briefly for a quick cup of organic coffee at a roadside café, so that we would make good timing. Our aim was to beat the notorious Kathmandu rush hour traffic and to our great relief we did! We were back home by 4.30pm to enjoy a wonderful warm shower – much needed to wash away all the dust!
In total 321 school girls and teachers received our sanitary kits and many of our ladies were able to benefit from the income this distribution generated. On their behalf, WONDERWorks would like to thank Ingrid and everyone who supported her, either through their generous donations or by kindly volunteering their time – it is very much appreciated!