GPE Nepal Summer 2016 Team Members from Birmingham-Southern College
Detail Report from Global Peace Exchange Nepal Project in Meghauli, Nepal
Posted on July 16, 2016
Triage with the Friendship Scout Troop
On Monday, July 11th, we met with the Friendship Scout Troop of Meghauli to discuss triage. Triage is the process by which priority is assigned to victims of a natural disaster. Last year, Nepal suffered from a devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of many and injured many more. This process is a valuable skill for anyone to have in emergency management, as it allows for more seriously injured victims to be treated first, without wasting valuable time first assessing each patient.
The activity that we did with the scouts went very well; we first taught how a paramedic might triage a group of victims. The first step involves calling out for anyone who can hear them to walk towards them – those who are able to are marked “green” and are given less immediate medical attention. Tests are then started for each patient individually. The first test is to check their BPM, or breaths per minute. If it is above 30bpm, the patient is considered to be in shock, and is considered to have failed this test. The next test is checking capillary refill – we taught the scouts how to do this with their own fingertips and informed them that if it is greater than two seconds, the patient is considered to have failed that test. The last test is assessing the patient’s mental status. You are to take their hand and say very clearly (in whatever language is most common in the area) “If you can hear me, squeeze my hand”. If they are not able to do this, they are considered to have failed the test. Anyone who fails any of these three test are marked “red” and require immediate medical attention. Anyone who passes all three tests, but is not able to walk towards the paramedic initially, is marked as “yellow” and requires medical attention when available.
The scouts were split into groups of five and three of each group were given cards with information to answer all of the tests. The other two of the group would act as ‘paramedics’ and ask the patient the proper questions in the proper order. The ‘patients’ would retort with the answers that were described on the card and the ‘paramedic’ would then have to assign them a color (they would tie a bracelet of that color around the wrist of the ‘patient’). The scouts were incredible engaged and really seemed to understand the importance of being able to triage. The people of Nepal were so recently shaken by an earthquake of such a large magnitude and continue to experience small, almost unnoticeable earthquakes on a regular basis. It was nice to see that they understood the material and were proactive about getting it right. Check out some pictures from our lesson (which fittingly was held at Clinic Nepal):
Posted on July 16, 2016
Scout Presentation Day
The Friendship Scout Troop of Meghauli held an early morning community presentation this past Sunday, July 10th. At around 7am, community members that were previously invited gathered at what is called the “Sanu Chok”. The scouts had prepared at least eight posters of various topics that they felt the community could use increased awareness of. They formed presentation groups and stood in front of everyone to share the information with them; there were posters on brushing your teeth, physical activity, washing your hands, administering proper first aid, land pollution and its effects, air pollution and its effects, water pollution and its effects, the use of the newly laid reusable dustbins and decreasing the use of plastic. The scouts did an excellent job of presenting the information (in Nepali) in a way that allowed individuals of all levels of education to understand. They were also able to properly divide the material among all members of the group so that each scout could have the chance to take on a leading role and practice their public speaking skills. The presentation was a huge success. After they finished, we passed out samosas to all attendees and scouts as a way to thank them for their attendance.
This initiative is one that was started by previous GPE teams and has been carried through the years. It is a sustainable effort to teach the community about the harmful effects of many common practices in Meghauli as well a means of empowerment for scouts who may not yet be natural leaders. Although we do not expect everyone to stop using plastic bags after hearing about their negative effects on the environment, we can hope to take small steps towards decreased use. Check out some pictures of the Friendship Scout Troop of Meghauli engaging with their community:
Posted on July 9, 2016
Update: Trash Pickup
Today, the GPE team and the Friendship Scout Troop participated in their last joint trash pickup of the project. The scouts gathered this morning at 10:30am and picked up trash along a new route in the community. This allowed for community members who otherwise had not previously witnessed this feat for themselves to see the efforts that the scout troop makes to keep their environment clean. Despite the scorching heat, they went out with gloves and trash bags and cleaned up their streets. This year, we were able to provide reusable, jersey cloth gloves to the Friendship Scout Troop. Prior to this, they had used normal, disposable latex gloves. In an effort to be even more environmentally conscious, the jersey gloves are distributed and collected for each trash pickup and are washed in a washing machine for further use. This is just one of the additions that we were able to implement to add to the sustainability of the project.
The trash pickup initiative is perhaps the most sustainable portion of our project here in Meghauli. Every Saturday, even after the team leaves, the scouts continue to meet and pick up trash in their community. This will be made easier by the availability of reusable gloves and the trash pickers that our team also donated. They continue to be the pinnacle of of how to ‘Keep Meghauli Clean’. Check out a few pictures of our last Saturday in Meghauli:
Posted on July 8, 2016
Health Camp in Parbat, Nepal
On Monday, June 27th, our team had the opportunity to participate in one of Clinic Nepal’s many health camps. Health camps are large events in which volunteer doctors diagnose patients and write prescriptions for them, free of charge. These health camps allow for many people without affordable healthcare to be seen and treated by a doctor who can communicate with them in Nepali. The health camp was located in Mila Chowk, Parbat, Nepal and was sponsored by Clinic Nepal, by the Local Inner Wheel Club of Parbat and by the National Educational and Social Development Organization (NESDO Nepal). The event was a complete success; over 350 patients were able to be treated and receive the necessary medication. Individuals were seen on a first come, first serve basis by a doctor before being directed to the pharmacy to pick up their medication. Two of our volunteers, Samantha and Oriana, were instrumental in helping the Clinic Nepal staff organize, prepare, dispense and record the medications that were given out. Jenny and Neil, who are both premedical students at Florida State University, were able to assist and shadow the doctors in taking vitals and looking for physical signs of ailment.
Through this enlightening experience, we were able to learn a lot about medical service in underprivileged communities. There is a great deal of planning and organization in executing a successful health camp such as this one. It is also necessary to be familiar with the available drugs and quick to fill the prescription, as the unfilled pile consistently grew as more and more patients were seen. Our premedical students were able to see and learn about the most prevalent illnesses and deficiencies that plague the community. For example, it soon became evident that many people suffer from hypertension. Although the aetiology may be different than most hypertensive cases in the United States, the treatment is nonetheless the same and is something that can be organized and implemented in future projects.
Towards the end of the health camp, the hard work of the Clinic Nepal staff and our team was recognized through the presentation of a ‘Token of Appreciation’ along with a traditional Nepali blessing. Check out some great pictures we got:
Posted on July 7, 2016
Update: Community English
We are down to a mere week and half left in Meghauli and sadly, Community English will come to an end soon.
Recently, the classes have decreased considerably in size. Students in school have been preoccupied studying for very demanding exams for the past two weeks and as the monsoon season approaches, adults spend all hours of the day in their personal rice fields planting.
Despite this, class has continued without missing a beat. GPE strives to implement a balanced mixture of grammar and conversational English activities in the lessons.
Various topics have been covered over the past two months including food and kitchenware, subject vs. object, sentence structure, prepositions, how to give directions, and how to introduce yourself.
An example of an activity that aims to improve conversational English and grammar at the same time is group story-telling. One student begins the story and each student adds to the story. After the story is completed, the class reiterates the story and a GPE volunteer writes it on the board. Next, the students identify and label parts of the sentences such as subjects, objects, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
Currently, several students are working on writing and presenting speeches in English. Next year, this is a exercise GPE may choose to develop earlier in the project.
Check out some photos of our class:
Posted on July 7, 2016
Reusable Bags: Reducing Plastic Use in Meghauli
Yesterday, the Friendship Scout Troop and GPE volunteers began the reusable bag initiative. This is part of an overarching effort to educate the community on the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic in order to keep their community clean. Along with assisting Clinic Nepal in purchasing the reusable dustbins, GPE has donated funds to help purchase over 500 reusable bags to give to members of the community. These bags are intended to be used to reduce the use of plastic when people visit their local market or in day to day use.
On Tuesday, the scouts prepared their talking points for when they went to pass out the bags. They mentioned that plastic takes 450 years (on average) to degrade and that this is a very long lasting, harmful pollutant to our environment. They explained that plastic waste affects the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the aesthetics of their environment. They even made suggestions to community members to be conscious of accepting plastic bags and that if their purchase is small, opt to carry it by hand rather than take a plastic bag. This is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for shopkeepers who then will need to purchase less bags. Community members were visibly happy in seeing the scout troop taking such proactive measures to help improve their environment. Additionally, by taking on speaking roles and engaging with older members of the community, the scouts are experiencing empowerment and building leadership skills. Over the course of just one day, we were able to see improvement in the confidence of scouts who were previously more reserved.
Each bag, as can be seen below, is decorated with a number of things. The Friendship Scout Troop logo, the Clinic Nepal logo, the Florida State University seal, the GPE logo, and two written statements. The statement “Keep Meghauli Clean” is one that was previously voted on by the scouts out of a number of options. It serves as a reminder to owners of the bags to continue to make an effort to do just that, keep Meghauli clean. The other statement, written in Nepali, generally translates to “Practice prosperity, ethical thinking, and let’s take care of our environment”. This slogan was also thought up by the scouts and is beneficial to those with lower English skills that may not be able to read the other one. The scouts enjoyed seeing the words they came up with printed on the bags that they were advocating for people to use.
Check out some awesome pictures from the afternoon:
Posted on July 4, 2016
Be Happy, Be Healthy at Wolf-Gang Linke Kindergarten
Two weeks ago, our team began a week long “Be Happy, Be Healthy” campaign with the Wolf-Gang Linke Kindergarten. This campaign consisted of daily, interactive activities with the children that were intended to expose them to sanitary practices. Additionally, we dedicated a portion of our budget to purchasing sanitation items for two kindergartens including Wolf-Gang Linke Kindergarten. On the final day, we held a health presentation for the parents that included several health topics such as hydration and dental health in order to also expose their households to these practices. The goal was not only to teach the children about health, but also to keep teachers and parents aware and proactive about their children’s health.
On day one of the Be Happy, Be Healthy Campaign, we began with a small skit about hand washing followed by an assembly line where each child experienced washing their hands properly. The teachers facilitated the process and washed several hands themselves. On day two, our team gave a demonstration about blowing the nose and washing the face afterwards to introduce the next topic. Next, a skit was performed which detailed Sam as the evil germ and Jenny as the heroic tissue that saved the day. The skit was a tremendous success and all kids were happily engaged. Again, the team conducted an assembly line for each child to experience both health practices. On day three, the team wanted to teach dental health but in order to hold another assembly line, the health kits were needed. We thought this was a great opportunity to organize the kits and assign them to each child. Each health kit consisted of one single toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, tissue packet, and three bandages. Once the demonstration was complete, we used each child’s personal toothbrush from the health kits to brush their teeth. This portion of health week was truly incredible because the children were able to use their own personal toothbrush while also learning how to properly brush their teeth. The next day of health week focused on tying everything together. We performed another skit which illustrated the importance of sanitary practices by including all the lessons taught throughout the week.
With health week coming to a close and the teachers on-board with implementing these practices, our team had one last task; we needed to inform the parents to ensure that the practices would be continued at home. With the scouts also concluding their health week, we decided to give them their own project. We had them utilize the information they learned to compose posters in Nepali. This way, the parents would have visual aids in their native language and the scouts would have played an essential role in communicating our message.
Finally, the presentation was held and most parents attended and actively listened as Suman Poudel, our project advisor translated our message. The presentation included information about hand washing, dental health, face washing, hydration, physical activity and treating wounds. Once the presentation was complete, we handed out the health kits to the parents and children. This concludes our Be Happy, Be Healthy Campaign. The team is extremely excited to continue noticing sanitation improvements in both school and households.
Check out some of our pictures:
National Scout Day
On Sunday, June 19th, the Friendship Scout Troop of Meghauli celebrated the National Scout Day of Nepal. The event took place at the Wolf-Gang Linke Kindergarten; here is what Neil, a project volunteer, has to say about the experience:
National Scout Day is a pretty big event around here; the biggest we have seen from them yet. Nearly all of the 45 scouts came out to celebrate. They started off the evening with an organized march around the kindergarten scouts. All scouts were dressed in uniform and lined up according to height. One member, Ram, stood to the side to play the drums. Another scout, Lakshmi, stood next to him to call the orders. Once they had finished marching, guests (the GPE team and the troop leader) were invited to do a puja (puja is Nepali for ‘prayer’) to the small bust of the Chief Scout, Purushottam Paudel.
Below you can see me performing the puja and my fellow volunteer, Jenny, giving the scout salute after her prayer. After this, scout member Sareeta performed a wonderful dance to a popular Nepali song. It it so rewarding to see how these kids display the amount of confidence they have in themselves. Working with the Friendship Scout Troop might be my favorite part of this project for this reason. I think the scouts are an instrumental part of offering young members of the community the opportunity to benefit simply from the company of others. In Nepali schools, there is not as much down time as we are used to in America. Lunch is often the only time that students are available to socialize, with smaller kids also getting play time to do so.
Although we were unprepared, we all decided to take the offered opportunity to address the scouts and tell them just how much we appreciate their dedication to each other and to their community. To see a young group like this so dedicated to sustainable growth in their community, and working just as hard to achieve it, really makes us proud and helps make this my favorite aspect of the project. We also decided to take the opportunity to introduce a bit of our culture by doing the cha cha slide (sung by Sam). This program was followed by a fun hour of dancing and singing to Nepali AND English songs until dark! A great finish to an enjoyable afternoon with the Friendship Scout Troop of Meghauli.
Starting Monday, June 20th, the daily meetings with the Friendship Scout Troop are on hiatus as the students prepare and take their final exams. During this time, the GPE team will continue to work on the dustbin initiative, as new dustbins will continue to be laid. National Scout Day seemed like the perfect end to the first phase of our time with them until we get to reconvene on July 5th, 2016. Check out some awesome pictures:
Posted on June 17, 2016
Health Week with the Friendship Scout Troop
This past week, we have had health week with the scouts. Since Sunday, we have been covering a couple of different topics each day to address common health concerns that Meghauli might be facing. We held lessons on the importance of hand-washing, brushing your teeth, proper nutrition, hydration and physical activity for longevity and strength. Since the scouts are older kids with ages ranging from twelve to seventeen, we tried to make these seemingly simple topics a bit more interesting. This was achieved through emphasizing a scientific understanding of the topic; for example, instead of just telling the scouts that they should brush their teeth twice a day, we discussed the ways that bacteria and viruses can manifest themselves in the crevices of your teeth and erode enamel to a pain inducing point. This, it seems, was the way to get the message across. Many of the older scouts had answers to our questions; what we taught them was material they learned in health class in 9th grade. However, the younger scouts, those who had not yet reached 9thgrade, benefited tremendously. I noticed scouts exchanging looks of deep interest in the concepts that we were teaching them. Occasionally, we would go on tangents that might help to peak their interest in the topic even more. For example, during the lesson on proper nutrition, we discussed the effect of carcinogens on the body and attempted to describe and differentiate between the various types of cancer. We then actively discussed the cellular biology behind cancer and treatment options for people who have cancer. Also, when we were discussing physical activity, we talked about how regular exercise can help prevent heart disease. On a tangent, we discussed the role the heart plays in moving oxygen around the body and what can happen if blood does not reach critical organs. We were able to teach the scouts the difference between an ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, as well signs and symptoms of someone having a stroke! Many scouts have expressed their desire to enter the field of medicine, but all of them were captivated by the information we were able to share with them. With health week now coming to a close, we hope that the lessons and material we shared with them will have a sustainable impact on their health related decisions in the future. Check out these pictures of our scouts having a great time learning out of the classroom:
Posted on June 16, 2016
Teaching English: Practice Makes (almost) Perfect
One aspect of the GPE Nepal project is teaching English to community members in Meghauli. Speaking English is a very valuable skill in Nepal: it can broaden students’ opportunities as they enter the work force or pursue higher education abroad, and it helps local shop keepers capitalize on Nepal’s tourism industry by improving their communication with tourists while making sales. GPE Project Nepal volunteer, Sam Matras, provides an inside perspective on what it is like to teach English in Meghauli.
English is the first language I learned to speak. It is also the only language I can speak. I took French in high school, but it was easily my worst class. Consequently, teaching English is one aspect of our project I initially approached with apprehension. I thought, “How can I successfully teach a language I know so innately that I cannot distinguish its most basic rules.” I definitely did not feel qualified.
Fortunately, my team and I received training on how to teach English to non-English speaking people for a semester of college before we departed to Nepal. Dr. Platt, our teacher, is a former Peace Corps volunteer and taught English in Swaziland. She has her PhD in education with a specialty in teaching languages.
Our class focused on successful methods to use in order to overcome obstacles pertaining to teaching English without knowing how to speak the students’ native language. Three out of four of GPE’s projects involve teaching English, however, none of us knew how to speak our project country’s language. I had been to Nepal for a mere week before and knew how to say only a handful of phrases in Nepali. I doubted knowing how to say, “Namaste”, was going to help me teach English. This class decreased my apprehension enough to at least try to teach English. Dr. Platt is a phenomenal teacher.
About ten people showed up for the first community English lesson. The students varied in ages and interests, and we did not know what to expect. Our entire team came to the introductory lesson and we dedicated an hour to teaching the most basic phrases in English and attempting to get to know our students. While we utilized Dr. Platt’s teaching methods, we realized the lesson was not great because we lacked general knowledge of the students’ skill level, thus we could not personalize the lesson to meet their needs.
Fellow GPE volunteer, Neil Sood, and I decided to take leading roles in community English, while our other volunteers now solely teach English to the teachers at Wolf-Gang Linke Kindergarten. So, we showed up the next morning with a lesson slightly more tailored to the students’ skill levels, but still missing the mark on many students’ abilities—several students did not seem challenged enough during our lesson. Only a slightly more than ten people showed up again. While this was discouraging, I felt our methods were well liked because they were very engaging.
After our first proper lesson, Neil and I tried our hardest to plan a lesson that would benefit every skill level in our class. Our previous lesson focused on vocabulary. We decided to teach prepositions next and reinforce the vocabulary learned in the previous lesson by using those words in our examples. We finally hit the mark: the material was hard enough so that it challenged higher-skilled students, but was taught in way that those with lower English levels could comprehend.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed teaching and at how the students seemed to actually be learning. Moreover, almost twenty students came to this lesson—the increase in class size was extremely encouraging and meant the word was spreading (I thought, “Wow! People actually enjoy our classes!)
Now, 30 to 40 people come to class everyday. Neil and I decided to split the class into two groups, intermediate and advanced, so we could better manage the large class size and cater to different skill-levels. Unlike school in the U.S., these classes are not required for the people in Meghauli. The students are not receiving grades and this class does not show up on their transcripts. The people who come to our class truly want to be there. The only incentive for people to come is to learn. I am so humbled and impressed by everyone I teach. They wake up early six days a week – before they start their work or school days—to learn English at 7:30 in the morning.
Teaching English to community members in Meghauli has been my favorite part of our project thus far, something I would not have predicted a month ago. It is so gratifying to witness students getting better with practice each day, and it is also gratifying to reflect on my own improvement in teaching with practice each day. I do not expect to come anywhere close to perfect at teaching by the end of our project, but I do know I will return to the U.S. with a new skill and passion.
Neil Sood stimulates conversation as a way to teach English in the advance class.Sam Matras teaches introduction phrases during the first community English class. Less than 10 people came to the first community English class. Now, over 30 people consistently attend.
Posted on June 15, 2016
World Environment Day
On Sunday, June 5th, the GPE team and the Friendship Scout Troops participated in world environment day! The scouts assembled in two lines and marched through the streets of Meghauli, holding up posters they had made that encouraged onlookers to help keep their environment clean. They continued to march and chant as they picked up trash along the routes; we ended up with four large rice sacks full of trash!
Environmental cleanliness is a prominent issue in Meghauli. Walking along the street, it is not uncommon to find trash littered on the grounds of storefronts or along public recreational spaces. The Friendship Scout Troop works to raise community awareness of the detriments that dumping trash in the streets can have on both the aesthetics and cleanliness of the place they all call home. Through events such as their world environment day march and their regular Saturday trash pick-up meetings, the scouts hope to significantly reduce the prevalence of trash in the streets. Their message, which they chanted in both Nepali and English, is ‘Keep Meghauli Clean’. This is something that they not only preach but also actively demonstrate.
Here are some great pictures of the scout troop at the rally:
Posted on June 15, 2016
The Dustbin Initiative
In partnership with the Friendship Scout Troop and Clinic Nepal of Meghauli, GPE has been working to implement ‘The Dustbin Initiative’. This is an effort to provide each resident of Meghauli with a reusable concrete dustbin in which they can burn their trash. Although this may seem environmentally unsustainable (which it is), it is a mark of improvement. Prior to concrete dustbins, most community members were burning their trash within their very own homes. Allowing them to do it in a safe, clear area outside of the home will drastically reduce the exposure to toxins that the family was suffering.
Additionally, the role that the Friendhsip Scout Troop has taken is encouraging residents to keep trash off the streets. Seeing the youth of their community working hard to maintain these dustbins and make them look nice is providing a positive encouragement to ‘Keep Meghauli Clean”. For the past couple of weeks, weather permitting, we have been going out to paint the recently laid dustbins. Scout troops were able to take on a role of leadership in speaking with the homeowners about their new dustbins, explaining to them how to properly burn the trash within and why they should help to keep trash off of the streets. The logos of GPE, the scout troop, and Clinic Nepal are etched onto the sides in white paint by our hard working troop members. Already we have seen the dustbins being put to use!
We thank Clinic Nepal and its supporters for assisting GPE in financing and executing this initiative.
Here is a glimpse at our scouts and volunteers hard at work:
Posted on June 1, 2016
One of our project’s initiatives is working in the Wolfgang-Linke Kindergarten. The Kindergarten was founded and is currently financed by Clinic Nepal and its supporters. WGL Kindergarten is a Montessori school with the mission to teach “by doing” and playing to children aged two to six years old. In Nepal, there are limited options for education: government schools and private, boarding schools. Government schools in Nepal often lack the necessary resources and manpower needed to provide quality education to children. On the flip side, boarding schools provide a good education, but are very costly and accessible to only a fraction of Nepalese people, those who can afford to pay for their children’s education. The founder of Clinic Nepal recognized this gap and its affect on the people in Meghauli. Clinic Nepal addresses this education disparity by providing alternative, non-governmental education systems in Meghauli, like the Wolfgang-Linke Kindergarten, that have extremely low enrollment fees. The monthly fee at Wolfgang-Linke Kindergarten is three Kilograms of rice, which is used to feed the students at lunchtime.
Our team will be assisting the teachers at Wolfgang-Linke Kindergarten by introducing a cultural exchange with the students, helping with building-maintenance, providing English classes for the teachers at WGL, and donating school supplies to Wolfgang-Linke and two other non-private schools needed to sustain the schools.
Here is a snapshot of our first week working with Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten and its colorful students:
Posted on May 13, 2016
Project Nepal 2016| Global Peace Exchange
Our team is comprised of four students from the Florida State University and two from Birmingham-Southern College. For the next ten weeks, we will be devoting our time to continuing sustainable projects and implementing empowering lessons for adolescents in Meghauli and Daldale, Nepal. We are working in partnership with a well-established NGO in Nepal that was founded almost 20 years in Meghauli.
Report by: Sam Matras, Jen Concepcion, Oriana Fuentes, and Neil Sood
Global Peace Exchange Nepal Project 2014
Global Peace Exchange (GPE) is a student-led non-profit organization which works as a partner with non-profits abroad to coordinate sustainable community development projects throughout the world, and this year too like previous year GPE Nepal team is in Nepal working with Friendship Clinic Nepal’s sister projects in Meghauli, Chitwan. The GPE Nepal team consists of two students from Birmingham-Southern College and six from Florida State University to participate in the Global Peace Exchange: Nepal Project. Some of the projects that GPE is involved with but not limited to are teaching English classes to local villagers, leading Scout programs, teaching summer kindergarten, teaching music lessons, distributing dustbins and reusable bags, and teaching about environmental conservation and sustainability. Last year we did the same project and it was very successful. Our goal of this Nepal Project is to implement projects in a sustainable way. We are implementing summer school with weekly topics on leadership, compassion, respect, health, hygiene, environment and sustainability, and art and music. We are combining these topics with team building activities and games to create a well-rounded experience.
GPE started working on its various projects as soon as they arrived in Meghauli, Chitwan. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and help of Friendship Clinic Nepal. We have been planning for these projects for the last six months and it is really exciting to finally implement these projects.
Besides working with the projects GPE Nepal team is having fun going for an elephant ride inside the Chitwan National Park, bird watching, and jungle walk. It is a nice way to get distracted from his killing heat which is always around 100 degree Fahrenheit.
All our efforts are made possible through the support of GPE Florida State University, GPE Birmingham-Southern College, Friendship Clinic Nepal, GPE Nepal advisors, and all Meghauli villagers. We look forward to coming back again next year and continue the same projects. Thank you!
Check out some photos from GPE Nepal Trip 2014:
Busy with Kindergarten, Scouts, and Teaching English in Meghauli (2013 Nepal Project)
We have all been very busy in Meghauli, where the opportunities to assist Clinic Nepal are seemingly limitless, as are the ambitions and the willingness of the community members here. To accommodate this, we have split our team up into three groups, with two team members focusing on each facet of our project in order to better serve and understand the need there as well as plan for years to come. We definitely could not accomplish all that we do without Saurav, our constant guide and savior, and Gabby, our British friend who is one part boundless energy, two parts comic relief, and all innovation.
To begin, we joined Meagan and Gabby, two medical interns, and two Nepali volunteer doctors at one of the health camps provided by Clinic Nepal, which are rare in the hot summer and monsoon season. We are working on gathering more information on what a medical intern does on a daily basis at the Friendship Clinic as well as how they can participate in the health camps, what it takes to implement a health camp, what current special treatments are needed by Clinic Nepal patients, and how GPE can contribute more to this facet of Clinic Nepal in the future.
Gabby has also written a report on her daily efforts at the clinic. Additionally, Joa has discussed with Singh the possibility of providing menstrual cups, such as the Diva Cup, at future gynecological health camps, in order to further promote the Clinic Nepal’s efforts to reduce unnecessary waste and provide a more sanitary and sustainable alternative to women. Really excited about this, because it could make a huge difference in the lives of young girls going to school as well as all the women are so busy every day doing housework, taking care of their children, working in the fields, and often balancing several other responsibilities on top of that. Currently, cloth pads, often inconvenient and unsanitary, and disposable pads, expensive and also uncomfortable, are the main sources. Menstruation is a stigma in Nepali culture where menstruating women often should not cook, enter the kitchen, or sometimes touch male members of their family, so the added inconvenience of having a period, especially without Midol, heating pads, and other Western comforts, can be enough to push a young girl to stop going to school or miss out on other opportunities.
Sophia, Gabby, and Isabela have been working with the Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten teachers in order to further improve the content and efficiency of the Montessori style education offered. There are three age groups: Play (2-3 years old), Nursery (3-4 years old), and Lower Kindergarten (LKG) (4-5 years old). Last year, WLK only had Play and Nursery groups, but in the past year WLK continues to grow and different volunteers come to contribute their time and effort (more useful art murals decorate the walls this year!) and more tables (following in the same fashion as ours last year), so they have added LKG and plan to add an Upper Kindergarten (UKG) soon. Each class presents its own challenges and opportunities.
In the beginning, the GPE Nepal would help conduct lessons and corral children, but it became apparent that this would not be sustainable once they left Meghauli.
Instead, volunteers began to more closely observe WLK and most importantly listen to and brainstorm with the teachers specifically about wanted to improve or change. The result has been that the teachers believe in their own ability and creativity, which has led them to work on establishing a structure to their daily routine. Now there is a rotation schedule to replace the old system of one teacher per age group. Under the new schedule, each teacher has one or two subjects they specialize, with cooking duty rotating. The idea was all their own, and the volunteers merely helped facilitate the implementation in a manner that could be more easily sustained.
Ryan also started leading morning yoga at the beginning of every day which the teachers have now taken over and Joa is working on painting a small mural on the wall that illustrates the positions. Ian, Gabby, and Joa painted a mural that is currently being used to teach colors and shapes in the LKG room. Tess and Joa also painted a small mural in the main room that lists the days of the week. The team also improved the alphabet wall mural in the Nursery room from last year.
Fixed the border and the signature on the alphabet wall mural, the paint of which doesn’t seem like it will hold forever, so we are thinking of bringing clear coat next year.
In addition to implementing a new daily schedule, the volunteers have been having intermediate English lessons with the teachers every day after the students go home. The hope is that this will greatly improve the communication between the teachers and future volunteers as well as improve the ability to teach the kindergarten students correct English pronunciation and phrases. The teachers will have notes and worksheets so they can recall the English lessons and be able to show new volunteers their progress in order to keep learning English throughout the year. Additionally, a basic English language instruction book has been provided as a reference for new teachers to the kindergarten.
A bit of Montessori style education philosophy hanging up in the Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten.
Ian and Joa have been working to plan the summer camp with the Clinic Nepal Friendship Scout Troop. The language barrier between volunteers and scouts can be difficult but is ameliorated by the presence of Saurav acting as translator and much more, and it is obvious that the scouts derive worthwhile perspectives on how to interact with their peers. Ian, with ample experience in team-building challenge course exercises, has led the scouts through games that require a team effort, positive group dynamics, and innovative thinking. These activities test the scouts’ abilities to communicate with each other, work together to accomplish tasks, and recognize progress and regression within their team. We combined debriefs of these activities with lessons on leadership and follower-ship, culture and communication, and working as a team to achieve a shared vision. This effort has proven to be a favorite component for the scouts because all of the learning occurs either during or after a simple but challenging game, and it can be applied to their efforts in Meghauli.
Scouts participating in communication challenge course game called Silent Opera, in which this group cannot speak but must give nonverbal instructions to the person who must verbally communicate those same instructions to a blindfolded person behind them.
Shiva, Ushtav, Sonam, Abishek, Ian, Prashant, and Subash (Tiger team) playing Nepali Capture the Flag.
Ryan, Isabel,a Sophia, and Saurav with a tikka-covered Gabby, Srijana, and scouts at Gabby’s farewell ceremony.
In the coming week, this new knowledge will be put to the test as the scouts engage their community in order to affect their own positive, sustainable changes. We encouraged them to pursue their collective vision for improving Meghauli after we helped them define it, by simply asking questions, such as, “What do you want to see change in your community?” The scouts all agreed on three main areas and have split up into groups to organize their efforts: teaching their community and WLK about the importance of personal hygiene and water sanitation, teaching their community about taking care of the environment and using the reusable bags GPE Nepal is donating, and improving their scout room and scout group. More on that to come later!
Volunteers are also incorporating interactive lessons on subjects of particular interest to the scouts, including art, music, science, and English.
Ryan teaching about the life of a star, the solar system, and space expeditions.
Saurav decked out in a crown of paper crafts made by the scouts.
Ushtav, Tess, Laxuman, Sunam, Ram, and Saurav goofing around after a meeting.
Tess and Ryan have focused on organizing English language lessons for roughly 30 adults all varying in age, location, occupation, and reasons for requesting and attending the English classes. Some want to improve communication with their English-speaking guests, while others simply wish to help the occasional lost traveler. Local businessmen and women would like to expand their business’ capabilities, while young high school graduates hope to increase their potential employment opportunities.
Santa, a housewife, Sita, a student, Chandu and children, Prince and Binti, another student, a shopkeeper, and two brothers all in the basic English language class.
Four classes have been established, each catering to a different level of English language knowledge: one at the basic level (Ryan and Joa), one at the intermediate level (Ian and Gabby), one at the advanced level (Tess), and the fourth class is with the WLK teachers (Sophia, Gabby, and Isabela).
Ryan and Isabela teaching the basic English language class.
An extensive amount of research, some helpful donations provided by family of GPE volunteers, and a lot of trial and error has resulted in relatively successful English language learning despite lack of training. However, four weeks of lessons every morning (7am-8am) is not nearly enough time to learn a foreign language. Additionally, all students face various obstacles preventing them from attending consistently, such as rice planting season, mandatory housework, tourist home-stays, and school exams.
There are many downsides to our project being in the summer, including the unrelenting heat, except in the time of monsoon, where it is also the season for rice planting, making it difficult for many students to come. We hope to be able to come at a different season in the future.
We also found that allowing young scout students to attend was discouraging to adults and we spent a couple days confused as to why the adults were no longer attending until we found the reason and told the scouts they could no longer attend. In addition to attendance, we have been collecting other data including occupation, reasons for learning, best time of day, best time of year, and best location for future lessons. With all of this knowledge in mind, we hope to plan English lessons for the project next year around these needs, including knowing the right time to come, the right time of day to teach, and the right kind of class structure to implement.
Ryan facilitating role play conversations between Santa, housewife, and Sita, student, in basic English class.
Accordingly, both Meghauli and Global Peace Exchange want this to be a sustainable project, and in order to continue we need your help. If you are an adventurous, motivated student looking to take initiative and be a part of a rewarding experience that directly benefits communities abroad, join GPE this semester. Immersing yourself in service within another culture does not only help others, but also allows for self-development in a unique, well-rounded way. As you can see, we need a varied group composed of individuals interested in early education, the medical field, teaching English as a foreign language, community development, leadership and team-building, and, of course, sustainable development.
In our free time some of us have gone on a walk or a boat ride or an elephant ride through the Chitwan National Park to see rhino and more up close. We also all went for an elephant bath, which was an experience any of us will never forget.
Altogether in the river for an elephant bath!
Saurav attempting to recreate some fancy elephant tricks.
Ian and Suman cooking corn on the roof before barbecuing some of the best, freshest chicken any of us have had.
Valid proof that the local geese have been stealing our makai (Nepali for corn)!
We now leave you with some other worthy shots taken in and around Meghauli.
Buffalo interrupting traffic in Bharatpur, town near Meghauli.
Boys fishing out of the cola (Nepali for river) in Meghauli.