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Shari Davis & Ellen Currin are InTheField Travelers with GlobalGiving who are visiting our partners’ projects throughout Nepal. Here is a “Postcard” from their most recent visit in Nepal:
While visiting the Koseli School, it was impossible to ignore how happy all the children were to be learning. As we entered each classroom, we were greeted with songs and dances. “The most important thing is to smile,” founder Renu Bagaria explained, “first they must smile, then they will learn.” The children are smiling because they have been given a unique opportunity to escape the slums and receive an education.
But the Koseli school cares about more than simply educating children; Renu explains that she wants to “bring them back to life.” In the morning, this means providing baths and breakfast for each child. In the evenings, creative activities are arranged for the older children to keep them off the streets. The students receive all these things, as well as uniforms and school supplies, for no cost.
The staff goes above and beyond to take care of the children when it is needed: We met one child who had a broken arm, and we soon learned that Koseli staff sat with him in the hospital for two days because his parents were busy working.
Older children are not turned away, but rather Koseli staff work with them one-on-one to prepare them for the future: We heard the story of Ishwar, a young man from a mountain village who was destined to be a low-wage porter for trekkers passing through. After studying at Koseli, he now knows conversational English, is also learning French, and can now be employed as a bilingual guide.
Before leaving the upper-Kindergarten class, I asked the young students if they like Koseli School.
They answered me as a chorus, loud and strong:
“Yes! We love Koseli School!”
A recent volunteer in Nepal brought along two bags full of soccer gear that had been donated by her college in the US. The kids at Koseli love soccer. Soccer is the most popular game in Nepal so the kids were excited about the gear and immediately organized and impromptu match between themselves and our volunteer.
We hope to gather more equipment in the future and get some volunteer soccer coaches to join us in forming a real team (or two) at Koseli. There's a vacant lot not far from the school where we could play a game.
I found this quote that is applicable to soccer and Koseli.
It's not called "the beautiful game" for nothing, you know.
Soccer is a sport that combines so many positive attributes into one activity that it's hard to list them all.
First, it's accessible, regardless of the players' status in society. As organized sports go, it's relatively cheap, and many of the game's brightest stars have risen from very humble roots. Think of Pele. Think of Zinedine Zidane. Unlike American football or ice hockey, for example, the equipment required is very basic and registration costs are low. Some professional players actually started out as children kicking around balls of rags on dusty village squares. It's a game that can be played by everyone.
(from Helium.com, author Renato Zane)
This month we had a volunteer team of twelve from Rocky Vista Medical College in Colorado visit Koseli. These third and fourth year students, along with their professors gave full physical exams to each and every child, all 104 of them. I was really impressed with how complete the exams were and the fact that we now have a medical record for each child so that we can monitor their growth and health in the coming years. We are sure to be back with another group like Rocky Vista and the next group will have the advantage of a history to compare to current health. That sounds like a typical thing for us in the west, but it's unheard of in Nepal. There are a few, very few, of the children who are going to need some follow up with a hospital and we are asking one of the nearby community hospitals (in Nepal the term community hospital means nonprofit) if they'd be willing to run some tests and conduct further exams for no cost, or a reduced cost. I'll update you on that when I know the results.
It's a great way for us to start out 2012 though, knowing that for the majority of the children the care and good meals they get at Koseli has paid off in the form of a clean bill of health from the Rocky Vista medical team.
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