Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas Stories

Mim as donkey. Second from right.
This week we have seen both Sam and Mim involved in the Christmas story. On Tuesday Mim’s class did a Nativity for their class assembly in front of the primary school. Mim played the part of a donkey and gave a very enthusiastic “Eee-Orrr” when it was her turn. Watching eight 4 & 5 year olds doing a nativity is of course very cute and it was very fun to enjoy for all the school and their parents, of course.

Then on Thursday night KISC had our annual Christmas Carol Service, which this year included a play by the Primary School. The whole Primary school from Year 1-6 (so not Mim’s class), were part of the chorus, but Sam auditioned for, and got the small part of a narrator in the play itself. Our unbiased opinion is that Sam delivered his 3 lines excellently. The play was about the choosing of a star to shine over Bethlehem to light the way for Mary & Joseph as they headed to give birth.
Sam is front left wearing a hat.
The evening, outside, in the cold, with the KISC courtyard lit up with Christmas lights, was a great evening and we enjoyed singing carols in Kathmandu. Another highlight of the evening was an outstanding performance of the song “Noel” by an ensemble group of students. Sam and his friend apparently said it was as good as professionals. We’ve put a video of this song (by professionals) here for you to watch and enjoy as you prepare for Christmas.

Come and see what God has done.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Directors Walk

When we returned to Nepal in July 2014 after our year in the UK it was for me (Dan) to take on a new role in a restructured leadership of KISC. It was decided to divide the top of the leadership tree into 3 and have 3 Directors running KISC. Each is equal in authority, reports to the governing board and has responsibility for different aspects.

As School Director I am responsible for the K-13 school and all academics. Khim Kandel is EQUIP Director and he is responsible for EQUIP, our teacher training branch, as well as government relations and legal status. Thirdly, Angus Douglas is Development Director, responsible for the Development of KISC and all non-academic stuff such as the site and support staff. All 3 of us have been at KISC for a few years before we took on these roles, and this fairly unique leadership structure.

Directors Selfie
We meet weekly to deal with day-to-day issues of running KISC and we each have our own teams that we lead. I lead the Academic Leadership Team, including directly managing the Principals of the Primary and Secondary Schools. As well as running the day-to-day we are also responsible for vision and leadership of KISC. But, as I’m sure most of you reading this will realise, the day-to-day often overtakes the bigger discussions we would like to have.

Therefore, early on in our time working together as leaders we decided to instigate a ‘Directors Walk’. We try to do this four times a year and block out the whole morning in our calendars. We usually go for breakfast at a local cafĂ© and then drive out into the surrounding hills and walk. This being the Himalayas, there is plenty of choice of good walks with great scenery. Often on these walks we stop to pray together, and always end up in a Tea-shop where we finish off with either Nepali style Masala tea or a cold coke, depending on the season, before heading back to KISC for an afternoon in the office.

Walking through the hills
As we walk we discuss the bigger ideas; the purpose and direction of KISC as an organisation, the more complex issues we want to tackle, or the new plans for something that in a regular meeting there often isn’t time to get into. Last week we headed out to the new site for the school and walked around the site discussing plans and then headed off into the valley adjacent to the school excited by the soon to be surroundings of KISC: hills, footpaths and streams rather than main roads and overcrowded developments.

These walks have been one of my favourite things about the role the past 2 and a half years, and have often been the source of some of our best ideas, or most creative solutions to problems. I would highly recommend them to others who work in teams responsible for leading, or developing vision and creative ideas. Try it and you might find it’s a good idea, although I doubt you’ll beat our scenery.  

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


Penalty Shootout underway
Last weekend I was invited to be a guest at the Ichtus Schools football competition. The Icthus schools are a group of Nepali schools in Kathmandu area that are of a similar ethos to KISC.

If you know me at all then you’ll know being invited to watch football is about the easiest thing in the word for me to say yes too. I seem to have passed on my love of football to my son as well, and so he was keen to join me for the afternoon.

Goal Mouth Action
The competition was taking place at the National Stadium, Nepal’s Wembley, although the resemblance is hard to spot. I was invited along for Sunday afternoon to watch the finals and help present trophies. The competition was a 2 day event and about half a dozen schools took part. We got to see the girls final, followed by the junior and then senior boys final.

All the teams were loudly supported by probably a hundred members of their respective schools complete with drums, flags and pitch invasions at the final whistle of each match. The most popular cry was “Goal Hanyo” literally translated – “Hit the Goal”

Lots of trophies
One particularly sporty school, decked out in their orange strip, made it into all 3 finals and although they lost the girls final on a penalty shootout, they were convincing winners in both boys finals. After the final there was the usual Nepali “Karyakram” (Program) which included a traditional folk dance, a few speeches and of course lots of medal and trophy presentations.

It was the first time I’d been to the national stadium for a few years, which is still under repairs from earthquake damage. They are in the process of putting a roof on the uncovered stands which you might be able to see part of in the photos.

When we signed up to come to Nepal, presenting winners medals in the National Stadium wasn’t on the expected things to do list, but here you go. You never quite know what you’ll end up doing I guess!
Fancy a medal?

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Summer Holidays

8 weeks ago back in July we had our summer holiday in Nepal. We forgot to blog at the time about it, so here we are, just a bit late.

This summer we visited the district of Lamjung, and the town of Bessi-Sahar, where our very good friends and fellow BMS workers have just relocated to work with KISC EQUIP. Simon and Wendy Hall have been in Nepal for about 6 years and Simon worked with Dan very closely for several years as they both taught ICT. They are now working with some of the local schools trying to improve the quality of education in this rural part of Nepal, about 6 hours drive west of Kathmandu. They wrote this fantastic blog a few weeks ago, which we highly recommend reading.

Our drive was mostly good, interrupted by a minor accident about 10 miles from our destination. Our vehicle sliding along the side of a rather large truck. Nobody was hurt, or unduly shocked! We then enjoyed a few days of rural, fresh air. Walks through small villages and alongside raging rivers, playing in waterfalls and damming streams. See the video for some photos and video of the time there.

Following our time in Lamjung, we headed to Pokhara, our favourite destination in Nepal, for a few more days rest and fun with friends, visiting museums and having nice lunches out.
Seems like quite a while ago, but it was a great break.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Back to School 2016-17

We are just about to complete our second week of the 2016-17 school year. This school years marks our transition out of the preschool years as Mim begins year K (aka reception class).

She has enjoyed her first week at school and seems to be settling in well. This has been made considerably easier by the fact she has known KISC all her life and now finally gets to go there with the rest of us! She also knew 5 of the other 7 classmates before starting.
First day of school

Her class has 5 girls and 3 boys from 5 different nationalities with 3 of the students having dual nationalities!

Sam has begun year 3. His class had 4 new students, mostly boys so they now have 14 boys and 5 girls, one of whom is away at the moment. I think his class represent 6 different countries!

Becky has joined the Academic English Department at KISC this term. She will be working with a mixture of students in years 1, 2 and 6 who don’t have English as their first language. Becky is also hoping to complete the CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) course later in the year. This is a 4 week, very intensive course which will give Becky the qualifications she needs to better support her students.

Dan is busy as ever in his role as school director, thoroughly enjoying himself.

Thursday, 14 July 2016


After 8 years here we finally decided to take the plunge and recently got our driving licenses. Up till now we have relied on peddle power and buses and taxis to get us everywhere we need to, and this has been fine, and indeed would continue to be in reality.

But the opportunity to borrow a friend’s car and get out on the roads was quite tempting, mostly due to the freedom that comes with this. The roads in Nepal though are a bit of an experience, one that we’ve got used to over the past 8 years, but driving in them for the first time brought back the reality.

I remember picking up my sister from the airport when she first came to visit us. We were driving back home in a taxi, me in the front and my sister and her suitcase on the back seat. Each time I turned to face her I could see the shock spreading across her face. “The roads are crazy” she said, but I had felt it had been a fairly uneventful journey, already partially immune. And that was before she worked in road safety.

The huge benefit of having a car is to get out of the Kathmandu valley and at the weekend we did this. We jumped in our friend’s car and headed south, out beyond the city and the towns that are connected to the outskirts, and actually over into another valley. Lelle valley is a beautiful green valley, with fresh, clear air. We didn’t stay long, just long enough to wonder along by a stream and enjoy some greenery. Then it was back to the roads.

On the way back in we took some video, we’ve put a snippet of it below, to give you a taster of the roads. But to be honest, it was a quiet Saturday afternoon, so it doesn’t compare to week day traffic!

Monday, 16 May 2016


Someone once lived here
An increasingly common sight as we move around Kathmandu at the minute is gaps. They are hard to spot initially due to the haphazard layout of streets and the fact that most buildings are squeezed into whatever available space there is between existing buildings in the streets of Kathmandu.

But wander around some back streets or keep your eyes open as you travel around and you will soon see them. The gaps between houses where a house once stood. Not obvious by their presence, but their absence. There is one just a minutes’ walk from our house. About 3 weeks ago they started pulling it down, brick by brick and now where the house once stood there is a pile of rubble.

Reconstruction in the back streets

This was once someone’s home, and while we can’t be sure about each individual house (this wasn’t an uncommon sight in years past) the large number at the minute is no doubt due to earthquake damage. Houses that were too damaged to live in, but not dangerous enough to pull down straight away are now coming down. Many of these were old, but more traditional style Nepali houses, rather than the bland concrete slab – admittedly more likely to be earthquake resistant – houses that have become the norm in the Valley. Real estate prices in Kathmandu have been soaring up for several years and so there is no way that these plots of land will be left empty for long. Once the bricks are removed someone will rebuild. Our hope and prayer is that there won’t be scrimping on quality of products and good quality earthquake resistant houses will be appearing in their place.

Under Construction and Open
On the subject of building, one interesting new construction has popped up about 1km from our house in the past few months. A new mall, with a cinema (our nearest one to this before is about 3-4km away in the centre of the city), and new shops. It’s still under construction, sort of, but they’ve opened it, sort of. 

Stopping for coffee,  while they are welding the building
We walked past over the weekend and decided to nip in and explore. It’s a bit of a culture shock as the design of the mall and some of the shops are taken straight out of the west (including ones we’ve never seen before in Nepal such as Clarks and French Connection). But you can’t forget you’re in Nepal as you try to squeeze past the man on the ladder drilling a hole in the wall to get up the escalator (rare in themselves in Nepal) or step over the very dangerous looking wires trailing across the corridor or watch the man hanging on a rope ladder to paint the outside of the building.

Nepal is changing, Nepal is rebuilding, Nepal is still Nepal.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

One Year on

Kathmandu Durbur Square

Tomorrow is one year since the the 7.8 earthquake hit the Gorkha district in Nepal and sent shockwaves across the country. We will be marking the occasion with a special whole school assembly at KISC in the morning to remember those who have gone and their families who mourn. To acknowledge those still living in temporary shelter waiting for help, and to give thanks for the Lords faithfulness to us over this past year.

We know that God has been walking through this past year with us, giving us the strength to cope with the stress, the exhaustion and the fear of those first few days, helping us and equipping us to make the decisions that needed to be made quickly, and giving us the courage to stay afterwards so that we could walk through this year alongside the KISC community.

We are grateful for the support we have received over this year from friends near and far which has helped us to continue in our work and life here and return to a new kind of normal. Aftershocks continue, rumours of a huge one still to come persist, but for us and for Nepalis across the country life continues. In a country with a large disparity between rich and poor the disparity continues. The rich have already rebuilt, many of the poor continue to wait for finances to enable them to rebuild. The inflation of prices, noticeable to us, is huge to those who live on the equivalent of just a few pounds each day.

The blockade added to the pressure on the economy. Inflation has hit the country hard, although officially it is around 10% as it has been for several years. The prices at the market have increased closer to 30%.

Last week was Nepali New Year, the hope among everyone in this nation is that 2073 will be a better year than 2072.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Coming Home

We have now been back home in Kathmandu for 3 weeks. Having settled back in to school and life here, we now have a two week Easter holiday! This has been a gentle introduction, but also exciting as two big developments have come to the fore on our return.

The basketball court is dismantled in January
Firstly, a new site for KISC. Currently, the school is spread across 4 rented properties, but before Christmas it was five. Then we were asked to vacate our sports site. This has meant we have lost the basketball court and 5-a-side football pitch. We have been able to share use of others not far from the school for things like clubs and some PE lessons, but it’s not the same.

We had identified a potential new site for the school a while ago and while things are far from certain there has been a lot of positive progress in recent weeks and we are hopeful that in the next month or so we might be able to sign a rental agreement for this new site. While it is rental, we hope to sign a long term lease and then to build custom made school buildings on the land (as well as a new basketball court and football pitch). The site is a little way from the current KISC and outside the ring road, a plus for pollution and negative for access.

The second development is with Pokhara Primary Study Centre (aka PSC). PSC is a KISC like small primary school in Pokhara which is primarily for mission worker children like KISC. PSC was possibly going to have to close this summer, but the organisation running it, INF, asked KISC if it could help last year. After some discussions and visits to PSC, KISC agreed to consult and support PSC so that it was able to keep running beyond this summer. Last week, Dan and Angus (another KISC Director) went down to Pokhara to visit the school, meet with parents and the principal and discuss and make plans for the future. As KISC hopes to help, and play a role in continuing the work of PSC and Dan plays a key role in this, it’s exciting times.
The leprosarium built in 1952

As part of our visit to PSC, we were taken for a tour around the Green Pastures site, where the school is located. This is a large 52 acre, site which has been part of the the INF work since it started in Nepal in 1952. There is currently a leprosy hospital and an Ear, Nose and Throat hospital on the site as well as a farm designed to help rehabilitate leprosy patients. In the middle of the site is a small hut. This is the first leprosarium, where the first Christian doctors who arrived in Nepal in 1952, just after the country was opened up, treated the first leprosy patients. It was exciting to visit this innocuous looking hut, knowing its significant position in the history of God’s work in this country.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

4435 miles

Photo from Yuchi Kosio on Flickr with CC licence
4435 is the number of miles we have racked up in our car this home assignment. Incidentally
this almost exactly the distance from our base here in Oxfordshire to Kathmandu (Google says 4460 if you're interested). Tonight we fly back home to Kathmandu. Our bags are packed and we are ready to go.

During this home assignment we have been all over the UK, from Liverpool, Leeds, and Bradford in the north; Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex in the East; Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leicester in the Midlands; and Wiltshire, Surrey, London and Sussex down south.

We have spent time with family, caught up with friends, including some we hadn't seen for several years and filled many Sundays visiting different churches and sharing of our work in Nepal and the role that KISC is playing in all God is doing there.

We have appreciated seeing everyone we've seen and sorry we didn't quite get to see everyone we wanted to. It is always an encouragement and a blessing to travel around the country and meet up with people who are backing us on our journey. Thank you.

See you in Kathmandu!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Blockade over?

The border blockade (photo from Nepal Times)
After nearly 5 months the border blockade was finally lifted last week and trucks and goods have been moving smoothly over the border this past week. We read today that fuel will now be available at almost normal supply at the pumps next week and that gas is coming into the city. This is of course great news for the country and its people who have suffered so much. We have seen articles suggesting 400,000 jobs may have been lost as a result of the blockade.

Articles are already being written on how long it will take for Nepal to recover and what will be the long term impact on the country from this. Suffice to say it will certainly take some time.

We have sat out the last 2 months of the blockade watching afar from the UK. We have been here as part of our regular Home Assignment and have certainly appreciated the break after a tough year, while always feeling torn that our friends, both Nepalis and ex-pats, remain, living through the ongoing shortages.

What has been very noticeable as we have travelled around churches and spoken to many people in the UK is the fact that very few people here are aware of it, and those that are have nearly all relied almost exclusively on our updates for information.

This was the part that has saddened us the most about this whole situation. While it was certainly not the worlds fault, the world has pretty much ignored the situation and done precious little to make any difference. The media have kept quiet and governments have kept quiet. Nepal, is evidently too small and inconsequential on the global scale for them to care. 

Maybe next time we’ll have to get onto Joanna Lumley and see if she can help again.