Newsletter 2006-03

Submitted by Wendy Finet on Mon, 2006-10-16 18:38.

Hello dear friends!

Here I am again crying out for your sympathy and help...

What happened since last summer? Things stagnated a little, with the same problems as ever: teachers are leaving us after a year or more of service, to get a job in some government department which offers more facilities (pension,higher salaries,...). This results in the fact that I have to look for new candidates who come without particular knowledge about teaching, even sometimes without ability to speak English!
But we have no choice and start to train them.
I must say that some of our female teachers, who tend to remain with us, became quite good and skilled. It makes me happy to see that our efforts are shown finally. We also have the presence of young guy's who can't afford the cost of further studies, and as such develop in our school. I am really happy to see their creativity and commitment growing day by day. They even manage to surprise me with new ideas for improvement.

But the lack of funds makes itself feel in every aspect. We have to fight ignorance against all odds. I really do believe that educating young children will solve the fundamental problems the world is facing at present. Fundamentalism and extremism... These are nowadays the key words in every world crises. Just turn on the radio and they only have about it.
And it is of course easy to put a religion behind it. But it is wrong...
The sole problem lies behind ignorance. That 's why I can't leave it. I m there again and most than ever I feel the need to fight for it. I want a better world, and I am not the only one! THERE ARE SEVERAL PEOPLE AROUND ME WHO SHARE MY VIEWS and try their best to help me on the way.
For the moment, beside my trusted friends, we have the presence of an Italian engineer who kindly offered his services to the cause for 6 months already, and is still interested to do more. Thank you Alessandro!
Last year I had some troubles with the running of our hostel. I learned that it is not easy to find the right persons at the right places! I pass the details but we changed the warden two times (to become it myself at the end of October!), and I believe we had already 5 different cooks since we started. But we learn and we are on the right path to make it a model hostel!

Start December 2005: quite sad happening that made me sit for a while.

In the middle of a night I was suddenly woken up by an incident that will stay on my memory forever: my house was on fire! I just had the time to slip out and to save my life. In some minutes I lost everything I owned in this world in material possessions. Needless to say that I had to meditate a little about it. But now I can tell you from the depth of my heart that I am more resolved than ever to take up the challenge. I reassure you also: it was not a terrorist act! I would say stupidity did it. A simple mistake, that opened my eyes for the future. Once again we realise that responsibilities are hard to delegate, but when done so, we should always keep an eye open (or rather two)!
What burned? The kitchen of the hostel (it started there), with the dining room, and the three rooms making up my house. I was the sole inhabitant of this compound, and we were all quite happy that the rooms of the students have been spared. Some time after the fire had started the villagers nearby came running to stop it from spreading further. They were able to control it and the school was saved. It was wonderful to see their efforts and rage to stop this fire! And the women were the most energetic ones!!! They could extinguish it, not with water, but with earth and stones, and ...their long scarves! The whole village showed sadness..., except maybe my arch enemies, running some other public schools in the region.
The reason why my house burnt so fast is that I truly had a fuel mine in one of the rooms. I was indeed busy painting carved wooden pillars for our little mosque, and dozens of these paint tins and paint thinners were just an easy prey for devastating flames. We also had a gas cylinder in the kitchen, which offered a fantastic sight in the dark night.
Of course all the important things to run the school were in my rooms: a quite new computer,3 old ones, printers,cameras,a collection of educational CD's, stationery equipment of all kinds...
The loss is quite important, surely for us. But the mood was still in, and I can tell you that the very next day, the school was open and classes were being taught. The students also joined efforts to clean up the mess.
We had our annual examination period two weeks later, after which I ran away to heat myself up in Peshawar, and to try to put order in my mind.

During winter nothing could happen there. But the community was ready to help me rebuild the place. They were talking a lot about it before I left. Of course talks are usually not so fruitful, they need some helping hand behind afterwards. As I was in doubt myself about my own future they must have been thinking that I left the adventure. But I will remind them of their promises, and we will work TOGETHER on this new phase. I see it as a rebirth of Ibn Batuta!
Our objectives for this year.

· We have to focus on the nursery classes. I am still not happy with what is being done there. In society where the importance of schools is a new concept there is a big misunderstanding as what has to be done in the classes. Parents are unhappy if their child is unable to write after a few months with us. They think playing is not a part of education. I have to change these wrong ideas without losing students. And the first step is to make the teachers understand it themselves.
· We will have to look for female teachers who are able to concentrate on this task.
· The hostel has to become a real institution where we educate the kids in an exemplary way: study, moral values, games should be in proper balance. The search for a competent warden who knows his task and fulfils it with serious is only begun.
· The government changed his policy about the start of school years. The new year starts now in August. That is a little trouble for us, high up in the mountains which are so cold in winter. We will have to think of the best possible manner to heat the classes during the cold months.
· We want to focus on a better dialogue with the community and the parents, who I must say remain on the background, and are hesitant to come up with ideas. Luckily I have a strong supporter who likes these interactions with the public. He is an excellent speaker and can fulfil this role better than myself.

You see it: we still have lots of work on the horizon!

Do you want to be part of it too? It can!

Every kind of support is welcome, let it be financial, material or advisory! We are open for all.

We are in need of several things:

1. The Urdu textbooks need to be changed for all classes. Remember: we provide the textbooks to all students to use freely for one year.(about € 300)
2. We will need to purchase a good new computer with a printer for office works, etc. (about € 400)
3. We have to rebuild 6 rooms in total: doors, windows, paint, roof, ceiling. The walls are still standing.
4. We need cooking utensils for the hostel kitchen.(€ 100)
5. We still need to pay our vehicle registration urgently, which is a huge amount to us(€ 1720)
6. Too many students are on concession in their monthly fees; it is an honour to us but creates a difficult situation as the teachers suffer directly of it. It is possible to support one student in particular if you desire. A 15 €/month is good. The name and details of the student would be given to you too, if you desire.
7. And last but surely not least, our teachers need better salaries: I can't expect from each and everyone that he would work just out of idealism. We are at present 18 staff members, including driver, cook, warden, and caretaker. Salary support is really needed.
8. It would be nice to find a book donor agency to supply our library. Anyone has an idea?

WE NEED YOUR HELP MORE THAN EVER.

You can see details of the whole project on the website. www.ibcsk.com.
It is being updated and, as now we will have phone facility we will be able to give better follow ups. Soon I will send more pictures of life up here!
You can give money on the account number 979-6511696-91(new number!), with mention school IBCSK.(account in Belgium on the name of Wendy Finet), and if you want your gift to be used for a special purpose please let it me know.
There is an account in Chitral, Pakistan also. nr 4205-6 (Khyber Bank Chitral, on my name).

You can always contact me on my e-mail address: LUNESEULE@EXCITE.COM, or at ibnbatutaschool@gmail.com. I will be pleased to answer all your questions, and consider your recommendations or advices.
When in Belgium you can find me on 0485 890 701. No number yet in Chitral.

All your gifts are being used in careful honesty and greatly appreciated. Rest assure that we try our best to run this project successfully, and optimistically, with fruitful results even! Some of our old students got admission in good colleges in Islamabad and Peshawar, which is a good step for us! I always hope they return from their study journey with bright minds and clear ideas to help their own region flourish, in respect with nature, people rights, and their own culture that should not be lost either.
The little mosque we are building was made possible due to local small gifts. We wanted to have our own place of worship where our religion would be nicely taught, in complete understanding of the Holy Quran. It is a wonderful and beautiful religion but sadly enough its true message is too often misunderstood, and even worse misused. It is also our task to learn it and teach it properly.

 

Thanks for supporting us!

Wendy and the staff of IBCSK, as well as the parents and all those who benefit this entire project.


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