Chepang students pose for a group photo after they were provided shoes, warm clothes and school bags. Photo: Sarita Shrestha/Republica
DHADING, Jan 9: In her entire life, Sunmaya Chepang of Benighat Rorang-10 could never know what it felt like wearing slippers. Nor could she ever buy the footwear for her nine children. "How could I buy slippers when we struggle for two square meals a day?" she asked, adding, "I was a child when my father left my mother who later eloped with someone. I could not study, as I had to work for survival. Now, I work hard to send my children to school."Sunmaya does not even know her age. There are several cracks on her feet as she always walks barefoot. Her youngest daughter Rita studies at Robang Basic School (RBS). Seven-year-old Rita always goes to school barefoot, wearing a pair of thin clothes to cover her body regardless of the weather. However, she is not the only one to do so; all Chepang children come to the school barefoot.
A few weeks ago, Republica had published a story about these Chepang students with the heading 'Chepang students go to school barefoot in freezing cold'. Touched by the news story, Dr Sundar Mani Dixit donated Rs 200,000 to the school in order to buy warm clothes and shoes for its students.
On Monday, Rita who had come to the school barefoot returned home wearing a pair of shoes, warm clothes as well as a new bag to keep her books. That did not only bring a smile on her face but also elated her mother. For lack of proper clothes and shoes, the Chepang students do not go to the school regularly during winter. The school provides mid-day meals to attract the students but they prefer to skip the lunch to escape the biting cold.
However, these children are expected to come to the school regularly, now that they have warm clothes. After receiving the warm gifts, all 107 Chepang children shared their happiness with each other. Meanwhile, a joint team of Anil Maharjan of Balaju, Nimesh Singh of Gyaneshwar, Gopal Maharjan and Rajendra Dangol of Machhegaun, Chandragiri distributed the tracksuits, shoes to the students.
According to these youths, they were heartbroken to hear that these children have to go to school wearing thin clothes and no shoes, that too in the winter. Similarly, Action Nepal has provided these students with books and stationery. Situated in a geographically difficult area, people of Robang have no access to drinking water, electricity and health facilities. Children here can study up to the fifth grade in Robang but have to go to other villages, walking miles for secondary level education.