Tuesday, 17 January 2012

First Day Back

Yesterday was our first day of school for 2012. It was a staff training day and as we gathered at 8 o’clock in the school courtyard we were greeted with doughnuts and lovely, warm masala tea. It’s a great start to the year on a cold morning as we great fellow staff who we haven’t seen for four weeks and find out about their adventures, and it was the first time for our 13 new staff to really start to meet the existing group. Word quickly spread that two of our teachers had got engaged the day before and there was a definite excitement to be back, despite the cold.

Our theme this term is "Excellence" and we enjoyed a session looking at the subject, including the obligatory team building game and our term verse of 2 Peter 1:5-7. Administrative meetings then took over for the rest of the morning as we handed out new timetables, went through arrangements for the mock exam week next week and the students reports which will follow the exams. During these meetings we heard the patter of rain on the roof. January rains, important as they can give vital extra power, but not always desirable as a cloudy day is a cold day. In a country with no central heating the cold can really hit home and every bit of sun at this time of year is important.

Our day had started with a little extra unexpected power, but then the bad news struck, we were now going up to 14 hours a day of power cuts. School uses a generator for power when there is none, but we only have four week’s worth of diesel and there is currently a fuel shortage in Nepal. If the situation doesn’t improve soon we are going to have to contemplate turning the generator off during the school day. Later in the day a member of the admin staff came to speak to me about gas bottles. We mostly use gas for cooking here and he was out and there were no bottles in any of the stores. Normally KISC has a good backup supply which staff can purchase bottles from, but even we are down to our last unused bottle and so we couldn’t sell him any.

At the end of our morning of meetings we joined with parents for our traditional Staff/Parent Prayer and Worship session we always hold at the start of the August and January terms. This is organised by the Parents and was a fantastic event yesterday. We sang praises to a great God, we joined in prayer for a whole range of things including a country that is much in need of prayer, our students, their families, our teaching training programme (EQUIP), our Nepali support staff – many of whom come from very difficult situations and much more. We ended with all the teachers stood at the front as the parents came up and prayed for us all. It was a great way to ready ourselves for the new term and hopefully a great introduction for the new staff to the blessings of KISC.

Then we got to share a wonderful lunch with all the parents who had come, cooked by our fantastic cook Sarita. The courtyard was full of staff, parents and a number of children who had also come in. The KISC community at its best.

As we worked on various other tasks that needed to be done to ready the school for the return of students word started to spread. Tomorrow would be a bundh (strike) day. A group of squatters who live along the river’s edge are going to be evicted and so they were striking. They would be blocking the main roads and bridges around the city meaning we would be unable to bus in our students who live away from the school. While this only affects about 20% of our students in the secondary and less in the primary, it’s not what you want for you for the first day of a new term to have a chunk of the school missing. But this is Nepal, these are some of the challenges and exciting things we are part of as we try to run a school in a country with so many needs. And I love it.

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