1 year ago
When dreams turn powerful
KATHMANDU, Dec 16: Eleven-year-old Sonam Dolma blushed as the superstar of her dreams, Rajesh Hamal approached her. It is rarely an ordinary meeting for a girl who grew up without TVs in Upper Dolpa. However, she still remembers the action-packed kicks of Rajesh Hamal that she witnessed in a handful of Nepali films. A fifth grader, she travelled miles away with some of her friends Nima Dolma, Tsering Lhamu and Lodoe Namgyal. They were no less star-struck meeting their hero in reality.
“I remember him riding a horse and his fights in movies which I can’t recall the names of. But I can recall all the different names that he has in every different movie,” smiles Dolma. Hamal seemed equally elated to have met these young fans of his. “I recently visited Dunai and explored lower Dolpa. The meeting was special as it lent me a vivid picture into the difficult lifestyle of people at Dolpa,” shared Hamal.
These children are the mere representation of those many at Nisal Village in Upper Dolpa, where entertainment still revolves around Hamal’s action films. “There is only a home that owns ‘Dish Home’ connection. As soon as they manage to get their hands off the household chores and looking after their infant siblings, all of them gather at their mutual spot for entertainment,” says Founder at Snow Yak Foundation, Binod Shahi. “They try imitating the movie scenes to such extent that a boy ended up breaking a DVD while learning one of the movie fights,” laughs Shahi.
One of the organizations that have been actively contributing to children’s education in Dolpa is ‘Snow Yak Foundation’, run by one of the winners of ‘2018 Nagarik Hero’, Binod Shahi. His relationship with the people of Upper Dolpa deepened when he first visited and started teaching there since 2004. “Dolpa is rich in terms of hospitality and agriculture. However, lack of health and education facility greatly affects the lives there. “The main objective of this visit was to make their dream come true and encourage them. Since Dolpa is aloof from tourism, we are planning to promote tourism through the support that we get from our fellows and contributors,” says Shahi. “I believe explaining our projects and plans to a celebrated Nepali actor will influence a multitude, thus contributing to meet our vision,” affirmed Shahi.
Meanwhile, there are around 115 schools in Dolpa. The Snow Yak Foundation sends their fellows to four schools of Upper Dolpa and five schools of Lower Dolpa. Shree Yangjer Gumba Basic School is one of the schools running under their active coordination at Nisal, Upper Dolpa. As quality education seemed one of the challenging factors in the past, the school coordinator and Tibetan teacher, Nima Tashi has started to fear about the rising number of absentees in the classroom. With many hands lending help, the situation of education is gradually changing. However, spreading awareness and sensitizing people for communal change is another challenge to be tackled. “With a growing number of teachers, I think we should be able to take serious note on increasing the number of children in schools. In order to better their lives, I believe the value and importance of education is yet to be instilled in their minds,” adds Tashi.
“Although students get few things to learn in the classroom, they equally seem keen and enthusiastic at course-based learning and extra-curricular activities. The theories of child rights seem so alien when you see a 10-year-old do all the works that are usually done by a physically matured person,” says 2018 Snow Yak fellow Hrishav Bhattarai. “As the concept of family planning barely exists in their thoughts, most of the children babysit their infant siblings, carrying them at their backs all the way to classroom and back home,” he adds.
“The fierce winter in the geography also seems to affect education due to road blockade leading schools to operate six months a year. This situation adds another hurdle to ensuring good health,” expresses Tashi. “When people get ill, they pin their first and last hope on ‘aamchey’ (local shaman) in the village and are treated with mantras and herbal medicines. Meanwhile, there are very few aamcheys in the place,” he adds.
Many people face immature deaths due to the unavailability of proper medical check-up. In direst of emergencies, doctors are summoned with a grim hope to treat the patient in right time.
There is a mini health post in Karang which is located almost at a distance of three hours from Nisal. “On my six months stay, I witnessed a life-threatening situation where a mother had an incessant vaginal bleeding. We came to know about her through her daughter who was weeping in my class. We managed to arrange a horse to fetch the doctor in order to examine the woman. The doctor unfortunately could not make it. However, I came to know that the woman’s condition was stable,” Bhattarai informs.
As the school department has so far set up infrastructures for the children up till Grade 6, Sonam along with many of her friends are brought Kathmandu for their further study. Believing in the power of united effort Shahi expresses, “They are willing to study and perform better if the environment is feasible. I hope to nurture the skills and potentialities of them. So, when they develop to competent and educated individuals, they unite with their responsibility to work for their community.”