Six months have passed since arriving in Lamjung and joining the Sisters for Sisters program. So many experiences few of which I have written about. One of the first "milestones" on the projects plan that I could get involved with was an event in each of the 12 communities. I accompanied the Community Mobilisers so see what they had already organised with their Big Sisters.
These were varied.
A singing event at Hiletaksar was lovely to attend. Girls are brought up to sing and dance in Nepal especially in Gurung communities.
|Girls at Baglunpani entertaining visitors.|
An Art Competition was another popular event although evidence around the library showed me that it was already well practiced. There are no art lessons in schools and the pictures were mostly of the school buildings and flowers, carefully done and well practiced.
I found the spelling test in Thuloswaro far from joyful and while giving the prizes and returning their marked papers I noticed that a quarter of the girls scored 0 out of 40 with very few scoring over 20. (You may notice the bright libraries. These are donated by another charity, a welcome sight of colour and books which are scarce in the grey, unadorned classrooms).
Public speaking at Suryadaya brought tears to my eyes. Only one of the girls remembered all of her lines and several stood rigid and frightened as they struggled to perform. No prompts or encouragement.
The General Knowledge quiz was better but still lacked a feeling of enthusiasm or fun. I could not see how these "events" would encourage these marginalised girls to attend school and boost their confidence. So on one sunny day at a Big Sister planning meeting in Bhulbhule we had a re-think and the English Games Circuit took root.
Back to the office and we started making low cost resources.
|Anju, Muna, Suchana and Manju|
I collected stones from the river and searched the town for small pots of paint and varnish.
I traced around a young girl downstairs and spent hours painting a picture of the environment, with Simon's more expert help (especially the animals).
Teaching the Community Mobilisers about Kim's game and pelmonism, with home-made cards of colours, was fun. We were going to do an A-Z scavenger hunt but that was beyond my powers of explanation. The first time we tried it the girls had great fun running about but all they came back with was bits of litter. A great way of clearing the school area but not quite the idea!!
|Kim's Game is a great memory exercise especially playing it in English!|
|Preparing for Maths Magic. Sequencing up and down.|
We then had fun trying things out in the office. Training? Surely not. The team soon all became very competitive especially with the fishing game. Our Manager Raj soon got his line entangled in the effort to get the final fish! He has now been promoted to the Head Office in Kathmandu, a great loss to us but happily Srijana, our professional mentor, has taken over. Trying to find magnets to attach to the end of the lines was an unexpected challenge. I eventually found out that I needed to scrounge around little phone repair shops which was not obvious to me!!
|Sarita and Suchana labelling the environment picture.|
Having finished our preparations we then took it out into the field, quite literally for the first event. We arrange the Little Sisters in their teams of 4 in a big circle.
The Big Sisters explain one game each and become the "expert" and the groups move around after 5 minutes at each station. It is wonderful when teachers come out to watch and some have been heard to say that they could use the ideas in their classes. Yes!!!!
|How many words can you make in 5 minutes, and in English!|
|The concept of pelmonism is hard but great excitement when a pair is found.|
All hands are in and everyone is involved.
|A - Z race and then Z - A|
Working on problem solving and teamwork are also new skills as teaching still uses rote learning as the norm.
|Labelling the body is quite hard as we have included wrist, waist and all sorts of detail.|
Another change is that we make sure that everyone has a prize! The only drawback of this is carrying everything up to the school that are on the tops of the hills, some a 3 hour slog. In the UK students might not be delighted with pens and exercise books but many of our Little Sisters cannot afford these so everyone is pleased. They also all receive red Tika on the forehead as a mark of celebration.
Have they enjoyed themselves. So far yes. Last week one of the Little Sisters gave an impromptu speech in which she said " it is so good to have fun and do so much learning as well". Fantastic, music to my ears!!!