Thursday, 14 June 2018

Momo Day

Mmmmm, momos

This week Mim was skipping up our corridor singing “It’s Momo Day”. It is the most popular day of the term for many people and also one of the busiest for some sections of KISC. On Momo day 2,000 Momos are made and consumed.

But what are Momo’s? They are a favourite food of Nepal, although they are Tibetan in origin. The large number of Tibetan refugees in Nepal, mean that they are very popular here, although they have probably been made and sold in Kathmandu for centuries. Momos are a steamed dumpling that are filled with either meat, usually chicken or buff, or vegetables. They are available in almost every restaurant in Kathmandu and once or twice a term we get them for lunch at KISC. This is known as Momo Day.

Enjoying a plate a few months back

If you order them in a restaurant you’ll usually get a plate of about 12, although the KISC momo eating champion claims he can eat more than 30 in one sitting. There are actually momo eating competitions in Kathmandu!

Helping prepare momos with the kitchen staff
On KISC days it’s always chicken and you have the choice of steamed or fried. As they have to make around 2000 momos we have to hire in extra staff to help. This past week they had a special guest! I wanted to know how to make them and so I joined the kitchen staff for an hour to help. As I very slowly folded my momo, the kitchen staff powered through, making very neat and uniform looking momos. Mine were all wonky and each looked unique. Although, as one of them pointed out, they’d been doing it for 25 years, whereas I’d been doing it for 25 minutes. The good news was that all mine still got eaten, and nobody complained theirs didn’t look as good.

Momos are definitely one of the things that 3 of us will miss, Becky isn’t too fused. The time in the kitchen will maybe help me know what to do and I can try to make them in the UK. We’ll see!


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Changing seasons


The crops are growing
We are reliably informed that monsoon is only a few days away. The heat has arrived mercifully late this year. I’ve only started carrying my umbrella everywhere this week. We need it at all times once the summer begins, either to shade from the sun or shelter from the rain. We also need all weather shoes for sun and rain. The paths quickly turn to mud where we are now on the edge of the city and the roads in the city flood surprisingly fast. Crops are growing everywhere in the fields around our new home in the countryside, corn, potatoes and chillies seem to be the crops of choice near us. Rice is being planted, or will be soon further out of the city.

Arriving at our school farewell, with marching band!
As the season here changes our minds are definitely looking to what is next. We fly in less than 3 weeks, saying goodbye to our home of 10 years. The goodbyes are in full swing. The official school ones have now been done. Including an enormous surprise one with marching band and special school assembly.

We are now taking time to be with close friends when we can. As well as the school work and practicalities of packing up to be finished. Boxes and suitcases are starting to get filled as we’ll be on that plane before we know it!

It's not just our thoughts that are turning to the next step.  We're pushing on with organising practicalities for the UK as best we can from afar.  It is of course much easier in our globally connected world. We’ve just bought a car, so you’ll see us zipping around in a silver ford fiesta this summer! We’re researching schools, churches and neighbourhoods. Dan's applying for jobs and we're close enough in time that he'll actually be able to attend interviews if called. Birmingham remains our destination, unless there is a late twist in the tale.



Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Helambu Trek


Over the Easter break we had the opportunity to go trekking for 6 days with some friends including fellow BMS workers, Chris and Debbie Drew. We were 5 adults, four children aged 6-9 and four teenagers. We travelled less than two hours to the north side of Kathmandu and were trekking by 8.30am on the first day. We spent 3 days heading north towards the Langtang mountain range before turning East.

This is a very Tibetan area, most people coming from the Sherpa people group. We enjoyed their cosy lodges with wood burning stoves and delicious Tibetan bread, as well as the more commonly found chapatis and dhal bhat (Lentil curry and rice).

We saw beautiful scenery, stunning terraced hillsides dotted with villages, rhododendron forests just coming into bloom, yaks, jumas (half yak, half cow) and of course, mountains. Sam and Mim even got to see their first snow – which we were not very well prepared for!


The area we were trekking in was badly affected by the Earthquake in 2015. We passed through many villages which seemed to be just starting the rebuilding process, and stayed in two where nothing survived the Earthquake. Many houses we saw and stayed in were built from corrugated iron and wood. There was rebuilding starting everywhere but for many they have spent nearly 3 years in temporary accomodation. We were glad to see that the rebuilding seems to be being done well, with lots of rebar (iron reinforcement rods) being used. We were glad to be able to bring a little income into these communities to help them with the rebuilding process.


EQ damaged houses stripped and left to balance.



A village we stayed in the second night, every house was destroyed
This week we are back to school, feeling a little tired and achy, but enjoying being back. This is our final term at KISC, so it feels quite strange as we are excited for what’s ahead and sad to be leaving our home of 10 years.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

New School


Clearing field
Over the past 30 years KISC has led a relatively nomadic existence being located at 5 different locations. As we said in our last blog, the longest was Dhobighat, where it had been from January 2008 until it closed there on February 8 2018.

Then on February 9 we set to work, packing and moving. The move was supposed take 12 days with reopening on the 21 February. However, due to some slight delays in the building process we made the decision to push back the reopening to the 26 February. This meant students had a slightly longer than anticipated half term break – just over 2 weeks.

Ready for students
This was a strange couple of weeks. Initially intense as we packed up and the movers started moving things up. Then a lull as rooms weren’t ready as we anticipated meaning we’d moved more stuff than the site was ready to receive. Then disappointment as we knew it wouldn’t be ready in time. Then anxiousness as we wondered whether we would make the new date, then frantic as we completed moving and getting rooms ready.

Finished Main building
Last Sunday, the 25th, we had all staff on site completing the final touches. The school hall had been used as a dumping ground for spare furniture and maintenance materials and PE equipment (the room they were supposed to be in was being used as a paint store by the builders). A large group of staff spent the morning clearing this stuff out into other temporary storage and then cleaning the hall ready for use on Monday. The staff spread out over the field to check for and clear any last remaining rubbish from the builders and we went through the routines for the Monday.

I arrived at the school on Monday morning, to find that there had been some last minute work leaving a mess in the corridors of the secondary. A group of teachers and our cleaning staff quickly set to work sweeping the corridors while I led a whole school assembly in the hall to mark the opening.
Primary Lunchtime
Then we set the students loose on the school. They are enjoying the new site, especially the space. Dhobighat was a small inner-city site. Now we have a large field, wide corridors, and the site is spread out enough that when you are sat in the eating area having lunch, you can’t hear the primary students playing!

Of course there were and remain, teething issues. Enough water for the toilets being a headache on Monday and fluctuating electrical supplies. The contractors doing the network hadn’t quite finished so we’ve had to remember again how to teach with less technology, and so on.

Lessons in progress
The site has been described as looking like a college campus and we’ve still got a basketball court coming next week and a covered sports ground in about 6 weeks. Discussions in the staff room this week have included rainwater harvesting, a mountain bike track around the site, having a pond, an outdoor amphitheatre classroom, a kitchen garden and space for forest school. All on the site! It’s amazing!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

2 weeks to go

The main building nears completion
In January 2008 KISC moved to its current site in Dhobighat, its 5th site in its, then, 21 year history. Now after a decade at the site, the longest KISC has remained anywhere it’s time to move again. For hopefully the last time (at least in a very long time!)

We now have just 2 weeks left at the school in Dhobighat. We arrived in Nepal just as KISC was moving onto this site, and we saw the first day of school and the official opening ceremony here. Now we will see the last day of school there and help oversee the move to the new location.
The school will finish on Thursday 8 February, and Friday 9 is “pack up day” – although work is starting before then – we hope to have the whole school packed by the end of the day. A small army of staff as well as parent and student volunteers will have a busy day. Then a fleet of trucks will move all the furniture, equipment, school books and everything else that we have up the hill to the new site over the next few days.

Lights on in the corridor
It will then be a busy week of unpacking, setting up classrooms, working out where everything goes (including students as there is a lot more space!) and getting ready to open for classes on the 21st. Although I’m not overseeing the development project, I am working very closely with the person who is, especially now as we get closer to the move. I’ve been to see the school development several times in the last few weeks. It’s always exciting and scary. Exciting as we see the potential, the progress and things coming into place. Scary as I see the work that still needs doing.




Dan's office is coming on - with adjacent balcony!
It has been an amazing 10 months since the work started on the site, and we know that the next few weeks will be challenging, hard work and exciting. They have built one 3 story building from scratch (see top photo), as well as developing 2 existing building. We expect all the classrooms to be ready on time (although the last few will be down to the wire), as well as a basketball court (very important). We are excited that soon after opening we’ll have a new sports site, thanks to the success of the walkathon and we know that as soon as we move in thoughts will go to further developments and additions. But the next 2 weeks are going to be fun.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Walkathon


Last Friday KISC held a walkathon. It was a great community event with the whole school, students, staff and some parents walking to the new site. The students have been busy collecting sponsors since before Christmas to raise money for a covered sports field. This would provide them with a good quality astro covered pitch to play on all year round with shade from the sun and shelter from the heavy monsoon rains.
The aim was US$45,000. Many in the community didn’t think we could make it. After arriving at the new site it was announced that not only had they reached the target, but they had smashed it! They have collected pledges totaling over US$56,000! Now we just need to collect the money in!

Once at the new site we had music and balloons to welcome us, hot dogs, brownies and lemonade for lunch and tours of the new buildings. It is just 5 weeks until we open on the new site, so it was all very exciting as many of the students hadn’t seen it before now. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are on target. If you would like to sponsor Sam and Mim it’s not too late, just get in touch and let us know!

Friday, 5 January 2018

A New Year and a new home.

Our new flat
Moving Truck
This was our final Christmas in Nepal, and a rather busy one. We had a 3 week break from school, so we spent the first week resting after a busy term and slowly beginning to pack – as well as some end of term sickness unfortunately. We then took a few days to celebrate Christmas including lots of singing and dancing (not by us!), a roast dinner and a picnic with friends on Boxing Day.

Then on the 27th we began packing with some urgency and moved on the 28th. We have moved to a small flat 7km away from our old one on the outskirts of the city. While this may seem crazy just 6 months before leaving, it has meant we have already downsized a lot and so
will have less to clear out in the summer. It also means we are just 10mins walk from KISC’s new site. KISC will move in mid-February and so will make our last few months here much easier.

Moving was interesting, but actually went very smoothly. We hired a small truck plus driver and two moving men who had to do 3 runs between the houses to get everything shifted. Dan also did about 5 runs in 2 days in the schools vehicle which we borrowed.

Enjoying more space and spectacular views.
The third week of our holiday was then spent settling in. We had to begin by squeezing all our stuff into a much smaller flat plus all the niggling DIY issues of a new house. We’ve had an electrician in 3 or 4 times, plus a plumber. We’ve also had to figure out where to get things in a smaller town which isn’t used to foreigners. Took us nearly a week to discover there is a dairy nearby where we can get fresh milk. Today we got our two empty gas bottles replaced (essential for cooking and hot showers!) and so feel nearly there.

Monday we start the new school term and the new commute, but also celebrate 10 years in Nepal. We will have a small housewarming party tomorrow (Saturday) to mark the occasion.