Newsletter 2007-02

Submitted by Wendy on Mon, 2007-02-19 12:52.
Wendy's picture

Dear Friends,Kosht, under its snow blanketKosht, under its snow blanket

After a year of fighting with the local state of things, what do we have to tell you?

What did we face during those last months? Here are just a few things of what happened.

When I reached back in April, after my visit to Belgium, I found the school running, not terribly well, but not terribly bad either. My teachers did try their best to keep things going smoothly.

We had lots of new admissions, more than in any other schools. Still the number of students did not exceed 180, which is far too low to provide the teachers good salaries.

We had to clear the way of some unwelcomed presences too: some teachers are really problematic as they behave in undesirable ways and don't let us move on. Anyway we managed to get rid of some, and each time I hope we will be able to breathe freely and jump forward.

After all, the aim of this school is to change minds as well as to bring development. But my priority remains the broadening of the minds, with focus on human values. If our students realise the importance of love and respect for human beings I will be totally happy.

The last year was particularly hard for us as we had to go on without any funds at all. Not the slightest help came pointing, and we faced terrible difficulties at all levels. Firstly we could not rebuild the rooms destroyed by the fire of December 2005. As a result the hostel kitchen remained a sad scene, and I had to live quite cramped in a small room that made office as kitchen, living, and bedroom. But slowly and gradually we could manage to make a bit more decent room for me. Since December I am living in it. It is not quite finished but at least I have my own space again.

We extended also the range of our pick-and-drop service: our vehicle was sent to far-away places deserving some totally out-of -reach villages. Good and bad. This vehicle consumes so much diesel that the service we provide to those people puts us in loss. But how can I refuse access to our school to so many demanding parents? I have no power to do so, as it pleases me always to increase the reach. People who show interest in education can't be turned away; that's my opinion. But we suffered greatly as the bills had to be paid, and the money had to come from the income of the school. It meant that salaries had to be delayed; it was the first time this happened.

The hostel was another headache. We can't increase the money we ask for the food (these kids come from truly far-flung areas, where there's much barter and not much money!), but in the other hand, the food items all became more expensive, and cooks always need more salary. This year will oblige us to apply another policy: looking around in the area we found out that the running hostels all demand more money, for room rent and electricity also. I think we have no option as to adopt a similar pattern...
As far as the teaching concerns, more and more of our teachers were sent for some short-scale training: each time they come with new ideas and try to improve their methods. Our teachers and students are really learning something here!

But resources are lacking. Since this fire we lost much we couldn't quite replace yet. The computer centre did not evolve: I get sometimes mad when I see what they use it for. They are fond of games, and as we don't have that much other software CD's they too easily switch to these! I didn't manage yet to find an able computer teacher. But even so our students are no longer afraid or ignorant of this technological item! They will easily find their ways with it at any time in their lifetime.

Another implementation is that I want the girls to develop their local skills in useful ways. The women here are usually busy with embroidery during these long winter days. I thought to teach our girls this skill again (as it tends to disappear with schooling), but with newer models and designs, and uses. For example, they are at present making wonderfull science charts to decorate our classrooms in a useful manner. Later on it is in my mind to help them sewing items we could sell to strangers or passers-by. For this I need better quality threads, as the ones we find in the local market are quite bad but cheap. If you are having lots of sewing-and knitting material, no longer in use, you can always think of us. We will make use of it all here!

That's it for the moment; I can't think of anything I can add to this, except for one great improvement: WE GOT A PHONE!

This is wonderful, no need to tell you I guess, but now I can be in contact more frequently and send you news easily... that's to say when the connection works at a decent speed! (At the time of writing I must admit that I couldn't connect for the last week , and even the line died yesterday! But this happens and is not such a great difficulty to overcome...)

Yes, it seems that problems of all kinds have to be encountered. As I 'm writing now, a part of the boundary wall around my house collapsed! It means we will have to revise the building plan!...

Just see it by yourself: every little help is more than welcome! The government should really consider increasing the percentage of the budget going to education, but as such is not yet the case, we have to fight with our own capabilities.

If you have the heart of helping us on this way, it is with deep gratitude that I appreciate it. Not only me; behind me there are nearly 200 students, their parents and extended families, as well as some people interested in seeing their area developing.

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