A peaceful scene of a young girl caring for her baby sister.
This was a real reminder of the reason behind the Sister for Sister Project. As Samjhana and I walked up to one of our schools we passed this peaceful scene of a 12 year old girl cradling her little sister. This was a school day, mid morning, so I asked why she was not at school. The young girl is the eldest of 4 daughters. Her mother had died after a long fight against TB. This must have been a very terrible time and leaves the young family in difficulty. There is an income coming into the household, father is in the Indian Army, and on this particular day the other 2 girls were at school but this youngster was having to care for the baby. She looked resigned to her lot but it was a stark reminder of why we are here. It is a girl's right to be educated, this young lady is bright and is in the right class for her age but how will she continue her schooling with the heavy responsibilities of the eldest sibling.
Samjhana in her element talking to the mother of one of our Little Sisters who we met on the path.
We were nearing the top of our 2 hour 15 minute climb to a school in the hills. As part of the project we hold events for the Little Sisters. I wrote about this in a previous blog ("Events to Date", March 2015) explaining my aim of making these a fun experience that would involve all of the girls, include positive learning, build confidence, problem solving and team building. There are very few practical exercises in lessons and certainly no games experience. We were planning a "Maths Magic" event,
The Big Sisters like to take part in these games and the youngsters love it!
Passing a ball through the tunnel of legs caused a lot of laughter.
We have recently given all of the Little Sisters new shoes and school uniforms. Here we played games while the Community Mobiliser, Big Sisters and Adult Champions organised the distribution.
Laughter is such good medicine.
Passing a ball in a "Figure of Eight" around the legs was a new experience.
As part of the Emergency Response projects both Unicef and DFID provided a "School in a Box" thus providing equipment for over 100 schools in the VDCs that we work in. Following training the Youth Volunteers and Big Sisters were wonderful at including sessions showing the schools what could be done with some of the sports equipment.
However it concerned me that we needed a way to make all of this effort, and the use of the equipment, sustainable. I have put together a booklet which explains some of the games and activities that we have been using and also ran a training workshop for 50 Headteachers and teachers. This was held at the smartest hotel in Besishahar, not a school, and we had to compete with the extremely noisy local hunting horns being played at a wedding. I was a little nervous about this training especially as I decided that the Headteachers needed to experience some of the activities to see how the equipment could be used in their schools. I needn't have worried.
2 Headteachers taking part in a Circuit!
A football relay. I wasn't sure if the women would join in!
Headteachers getting to grips with a Frisbee. Making use of the hotel gardens.
Following this training it was not difficult to include more sporting games into the Big Sister / Little Sister events. We have been to several schools and played 3 games. Skittles and Bingo have a definite mathematical theme of calculations included. Ultimate Frisbee, discovered by chance on the Internet, is proving as popular as I had hoped. Most schools do not have a sports field but most have some space. They have Frisbees in their boxes of equipment. The ground is usually very uneven but basically flat. This game is wonderful and can be adapted to most spaces, encourages team work, game skills, is easy to learn and is very inclusive. It has also proved a great success at the VSO Country Office following our Annual Conference Frisbee session!
Before an Event it is vital to make sure that the Big Sisters and Adult Champions really understand the games. There are 3 "Adult Champions" in each group, a Female Focal Teacher is the link with the school while the Uncle and Auntie support the Big Sisters with community challenges and activities.
Big Sisters enjoying a Bingo practice
Big Sisters practicing a new skill in Bajhakhet.
Then we needed to introduce the new sport to the Little Sisters.
Little Sisters learning new skills at Hiletaksar School
All hands in the air at Baglungpani.
The Game developing. Our Adult Champion has taken over the whistle.
Change- over after scoring. Looking very organised about 7 minutes into the game. Impressive.
At another school the story is the same. What I am thrilled about is that several of the Community Mobilisers and Big Sisters have organised these events without my presence. This is exactly what we aim to do as VSO volunteers. The passing on of ideas (technically referred to as Skills!) makes our work sustainable and hopefully armed with increased experiences and confidence they will develop their own ideas which they will pass on to others.
Pitch marked out quickly and buffalo calf ready for play in Bhulbhule. The start of the Annupurna Circuit Trek in the distance.
10 minutes later another game is underway.
Skittles played on a rough surface is a challenge.
Each Skittle has a numerical value which is added up toward the team score,
Sarita asking maths questions during a Bingo game
Another simple pleasure is seeing a teacher using one of the games, that he has recently learnt from the Big Sisters, during a lesson. Bistaari, bistaari (slowly, slowly) I think we are making a difference.
A pleasure to see.
At the end of an Event everyone gets a useful prize but the real benefit is the growth of confidence and experiences.
Smiling at a camera is not part of the culture but catching on!!