The State of Bihar has extreme climates. During the wet season, there can be devastating flooding. In winter, temperatures can drop to zero and in the hot season, temperatures can be as high as 50' Celsius. These climate extremes take a toll on crops, farm animals & human life. To accommodate the seasons, educational institutions open later in winter & earlier in summer. School vacations are usually scheduled for when the seasons are most extreme. Sometimes, the government will order schools to close on very short notice when it becomes too cold, hot or wet!
The school break for the current hot season has just ended and Elsa Primary School reopened on Monday 20th June. Dana, a kind Australian supporter, noticed that temperatures during the current hot season in Bodhgaya have been much hotter than usual and thus, offered to give cooling refreshments for the students on their return to school. She wanted to provide freshly squeezed fruit juice, but logistically this was difficult due to the lack of suitable fruits at this time of year. The school principal suggested, instead, that lassi be provided as a cooling drink. Lassi is a cold drink made with yoghurt or buttermilk and flavoured with sugar, salt, or a mild spice. Thanks to Dana's generosity, the students are now enjoying refreshing lassi drinks every day!
Our school is named after Mrs Elsa Lalchere of Queensland, Australia. Thus, it was a very sad day for students, teachers and supporters when Elsa passed away on Monday, 7th March - just a few weeks shy of her 98th birthday.
Elsa leaves behind three children, three grand children and seven great grandchildren of her own. In Bodhgaya, she leaves behind many more children and young people who have grown to love and respect her over the years. To them, she is ‘Grandma’. From the early days of Kusala Projects, Elsa has been supporting students in Bodhgaya in various ways and even last year took on a new sponsorship of a young girl.
To honour the memory of Elsa, we hope to continue funding the school for many years to come. The photos below were taken at a service performed for Elsa by students and teachers a few days ago.
Covid continues to be an ongoing problem in Bihar. However, Elsa Primary School was able to remain open throughout 2021. The only extended closure was the customary hot season break at the end of May.
In 2021, new activities such as origami craft and gardening were introduced to enrich the students' education. These are much appreciated by the students who very much enjoy their time at the school. Students understand that they are fortunate to have all their educational needs provided by supporters of the school - as expressed in the accompanying photos.
We have been requested repeatedly by Karmoni villagers to accept twenty more students to the school. We have sufficient space but unfortunately, insufficient funding. The cost of employing a third teacher, books, study materials, uniforms and meals would be AU $6,000 per annum. Hopefully, it will be possible to expand the school at some time in the future.
Wishing all our supporters a very auspicious 2022!
'Origami' is a Japanese word formed from 'ori' meaning 'folding' and 'gami' meaning 'paper' - the Japanese art of paper folding. The goal is to transform a flat square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques without cuts, glue, or markings on the paper. The small number of basic origami folds can be combined in a variety of ways to make intricate designs. Usually, this begins with a square sheet of paper which may be of different colours, prints & patterns.
One of our supporters kindly donated illustrated Origami instruction books & work materials to Elsa Primary School (which is located in Karmoni Village). All students were taught how to origami and they very much enjoyed this craft experience. In the photos you can see their finished pieces.
At the end of 2020, one of our supporters kindly donated extra books to Elsa Primary School to stimulate the students' interest in nature. These included illustrated books on Indian garden flowers, trees, birds and animals. Also, instructional books on gardening plus gardening tools were donated.
Subsequently, students were given practical gardening lessons - planting tomato, cauliflower, chilli and mango seeds in the school grounds. It has been a source of ongoing interest for the students watching the plants grow. To the delight of all, the first tomatoes and cauliflowers are almost ready for picking. In contrast, it will take three or four years of careful nurturing for the mango trees to fruit.
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