The unedited sentence in my diary referring to this school is “OMG what awful conditions”. That sentence is inadequate. Even photos or videos can hardly tell the story. Only by being there would it be possible to gain a full impression of the darkness, the overcrowding and the all-pervading smell of urine. The building also seemed to be devoid of anything to occupy the teenagers living there such as music or TV.
Beds were crammed together in a sandwich of staleness, dirtiness and wetness. Walls were bare and furniture rarely to be seen.
Above all, the place was downright dangerous. The floors of the building and the yard outside were (of course still are) an obstacle course of broken slabs, high steps and uneven surfaces. The blind students find their way around by holding onto walls and to any other fixed objects they might find. They don’t find many. There also appears to be an assumption that, because they are blind, they do not need light but I’m guessing that many of them are what we would call partially sighted and would be able to function far more successfully if they were helped by lighting and bright colours. I am no expert but I have taught people with special needs, many of whom have sight impairment. There are other small improvements which I know can be made. Sensory clues such as different surfaces to touch or walk on can also be used to aid finding a blind young person’s way around. There are other issues. Just because you cannot see does not mean you cannot hear. Music, audio stories or simply having a radio or TV in the background can provide stimulation, entertainment, a purpose to the day. These are all simple props but they appeared to be absent at Janata Dhana.
I am not being critical of the school here. In a country where over 391,000 people live below the poverty line, marginalised groups such as the disabled will be the last in the queue for limited resources. The school does its best and, academically, the youngsters are assisted by one to one support with their work and workbooks etc are available in braille.
I saw a number of possible projects on my visit to Baglung, some of which were very close to my heart, such as the “goat” project familiar to most people involved with self-improvement in the Third World. Then there were the earthquake damaged schools and nurseries, but it was the awful smell and general dinginess of these kids’ living conditions which stung me.
A few licks of paint, a thorough cleanout and a few simple bits of furniture and furnishings will make a huge difference to the lives of these students. SWAN have kindly costed the refurbishment of Janata Dhana and this is attached below.
The total we need to raise is £3250
However, costs below do not include some of the “extras” I feel would really enhance the lives of these young people, such as audio/entertainment equipment, security (there are no locks that I could see), clothes washing facilities etc, so I would like to round the figure up to around £3500.
So, not far to to go! It would be great to send or take this money over in September just as the monsoon rains retreat so that’s another target. Stalls and Quiz Nights will raise some of this money but I will also start a new JustGiving campaign. These tend to require somebody to do something – walking for ever, jumping out of planes, running, staying silent- so if anybody has an idea what they want to put into practice please feel free. I am racking my knackered brain as I type. Please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a Facebook page for comments https://www.facebook.com/KatkanDo2/ .
Anyway, for those who like to see how these things add up (the Charity Commissiion certainly do) here is the breakdown from SWAN the contacts in Nepal. Feel free to send me your comments.
Breakdown of Refurbishment Costs For Janata Dhan Blind School, Narayansthan -14, Baglung
(Courtesy of SWAN, Nepal)
The overall objective of the program is to improve the hostel environment by renovating and maintaining the blind hostel building and toilets of Janata Dhan higher Secondary School.
- Renovating/ Maintenance of hostel building and basic infrastructure.
- Arrange/ support furniture and stationery.
- Maintenances of hostel toilets
- Breakdown expenses:
|1||Mattress for bed, blankets, bed sheet, pillow covers.||25||5000||125,000.00||Supply from KTM|
|3||Building painting||–||–||60,000.00||Supply from KTM|
|4||Whole Toilet renovation||40,000.00||80,000.00||“|
|6||Box||23||2000||46,000.00||Supply from a field office|
|7||Bookshelf||8||5000||40,000.00||Supply from a field office|
|11||Total in pound sterling||£ 3250.00||@ the rate