HVP Nepal-UK Christmas Newsletter 2021
A very warm ‘Namaste!’ to everyone and welcome to the Christmas edition of the HVP Nepal-UK newsletter. We hope this finds you and your families well and in festive spirits as Christmas approaches and with it the tentative promise of fuller gatherings this year.
There will be bitter-sweet reflections on the year that has been. Covid-19 closed the three HVP schools, teacher salaries were cut by 50% and the number of students on roll dropped significantly; celebrations were postponed; tragically, good friends died. Uncertainty lingers both in Nepal and the UK as to what 2022 will bring, and there is the growing sense that this virus is not through with us yet.
All through the pandemic, however, HVP Nepal-UK has stood beside the schools and given its support, both financial and moral. The reserves in the bank are now at the lowest that we will allow them, but what are reserves for if not for times of crisis? The reserves of good will are at the high-water mark. All three schools are now back on their feet and returning to a degree of normality, and the festival of Dashain in October was celebrated to much rejoicing.
We have not forgotten our commitment to capital projects either, and the good news story coming out of Nepal, and Kathmandu specifically, is that the new building at HVP Central School is nearing completion; the building, having risen from the dust of the 2015 earthquake, is a symbol of resilience, and of the future hope and growth of HVP.
Update from Nepal
The marvellous headline news is that the new building at HVP Central is almost ready. HVPN-UK has sent a further £23,500 to bring the work to completion, drawn from a mixture of reserves and fundraising by many different groups of people. For the very first time, as Head Sir, Vishnu Bhakta-Dangi, says, students have been given the top to bottom guided tour of every classroom in the new block. On her recent visit to Nepal, former student and HVPN-UK trustee, Mridu Nepali, commented on how the school was ‘in full bloom’ and the new building looked wonderful. She was pleased to observe that a number of the new classrooms had their own en-suite toilets, which would bring significant benefit to the students. Once all the furnishings and painting have been completed, Vishnu plans to hold an inaugural celebration of the new building, which will include honouring major patrons and donors who gave so generously in order to get this vital work completed.
To everyone reading this newsletter who has supported this project over the last six years, the most sincere and heart-felt thank you from everyone at HVP.
The new building is a major milestone for HVP Central and for the wider HVP community, a symbol of growth and investment in the future of HVP, having weathered the adversity of Covid-19. The hope is that, now with schools returning to normal across the country, this kind of investment will attract local parents and students back to the school and make up the shortfall of about 100 students who have not returned to Central School since the end of lockdown. Many of these students have returned with their families to their provincial homes and enrolled in local schools which were open when the city schools of Kathmandu were closed. The new building means there is vital capacity, not only for the nursery, but also for the provision of Plus-2 classes (A Level equivalent), now a government pre-requisite. At last the pupils of HVP Central will soon have their playground back, which for several years now, has been a building site. It is hard to over-estimate the positive impact of this new development.
The news from HVP Thali is encouraging and Hear Sir, Raj Kumar, says that there are 400 students on roll and attending school regularly. Classes are back to normal and internal school exams will take place in January. HVP Thali recently held a sports programme, involving competitions in volleyball, basketball, table-tennis and running races. Prizes were awarded by the school's respected guru, Chintamani Yogi.
The most pressing need for Thali is to replace the tin roof of the old school building, in order to give proper insulation and protection in the rainy season. The estimated cost is 20 Lakh rupees (close to £12,500). The aim, therefore, is to have this, together with a new toilet block, completed by the end of April; these projects will become the next major fundraising focus for HVPN-UK.
At HVP Dang, the report from Bhola ji is that despite a shortfall of 60 pupils - the majority younger children who have not returned since schools re-opened - the numbers in the nursery are now improving: from 2 pupils to 20 in a matter of weeks and there have been a healthy number of enquiries. In terms of the physical site, the toilets are in urgent need of an upgrade and a new roof for the school building is required.
Throughout the pandemic, the Children's Peace Home (CPH) attached to HVP Dang has continued to look after the poorest and most vulnerable children. Below is the story of 19-year-old Pratibha Chaudhary, for whom CPH, which she describes as her second home, was a way out of child labour, having lost her father tragically to tuberculosis. You can see here what an HVP education has meant to her personally and what she now wishes to do with her life.
The HVP Scholarship Fund
It is children like Pratibha that the HVPN-UK Scholarship Fund seeks to support in terms of offering them both an education and a loving home.
Sent out to the three schools on a quarterly basis, the HVPN-UK scholarship fund either pays in full or in part the school fees for the children from the lowest income families, who would not otherwise be able to send their children to an HVP school. It is HVPN-UK’s most important way of supporting the schools and its students year in year out.
That is why we are asking for a regular monthly donation of £20 to the HVPN-UK Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship fund could not be more important than it is now to keep as many HVP students in school as possible. We know a good number of you already give on a regular basis towards this fund and we are hugely grateful. Many students would not be in school without it.
We are appealing to you, our friends and supporters, who may already be thinking of ways in which you would like to help, to consider setting up a monthly Direct Debit and to give a regular sum of money to the HVPN-UK Scholarship Fund. We are suggesting £20 as a monthly donation but would gratefully receive any amount that you feel you are able to give.
If you wish to give on a regular basis towards the fund, you can set up monthly donations on the HVP Nepal-UK JustGiving page - https://www.justgiving.com/hvpuk -making it clear that you wish the donation to go towards the Scholarship Fund. Please don't forget to authorise the 25% Gift aid if applicable.
Save the date! Online Festival, Sunday 20th March 2022
Following the postponement of the online cultural festival that had been planned for earlier this year, it gives us great pleasure to say that a new date has been announced. The festival will now take place on Sunday, 20th March 2022, to coincide with the celebrations of Holi in Nepal. So save the date, be sure to attend in your brightest garments and have your paint powder at the ready.
We intend the format to be the same as previously planned, which will see each of the three schools perform a mixture of Nepali dance, recital and song very similar to the kind of satsang which many of us will have experienced while teaching or staying at the HVP schools. There will be a live compere on the day, who will guide the audience through a medley of performances which, for reasons of safety precaution, will have been pre-recorded in advance. The event will offer a joyful xand evocative insight into the life of HVP and Nepal that we have dearly missed these last two years.
Tickets will once more be available through Eventbrite and will go on sale in the New Year.
We hope to see as many people as possible attending from the worldwide HVP community.
Join in the fun!
Ellie Piggott, our new fundraising officer, has been busy exploring innovative ideas for raising money for the HVP projects that we support, as well as forging links between the HVP schools and schools in the UK. We warmly encourage you to get involved with the following initiatives.
Steps for Schools: A Journey Across Nepal
Sign up to World Walking (https://worldwalking.org/) and fundraise for HVP while walking the equivalent distance from HVP Thali to HVP Dang - a journey that will take you right across Nepal and one that takes in several of the great sites of the country (not to mention the HVP schools of course). Get fit, tick off the sites, and raise money for a great cause!
Should anyone wish to make closer links between a UK school and the HVP schools, Ellie has put together a step-by-step guide of how to go about this, so please get in touch with us at email@example.com. It's a fantastic way to share cultural knowledge and to bring Nepal into your school and classroom - and vice-versa. It's also a highly effective platform for fundraising.
Larkhill Garrison Nursery have had a huge push for HVP fundraising and have been in touch with Vishnu. They are proud to report that they've raised in excess of £1500, have a display dedicated to Nepal and HVP Nepal-UK, and celebrated the festival of Dashain a few weeks ago.
A message from Lu Piggot, Deputy Manager at Larkhill Garrison Nursery:
Good morning Ellie,
Thank you for your ongoing support regarding our request to ‘twin’ with a school in Nepal.
I have recently emailed Vishnu to introduce ourselves and given him an update on our adventures and experiences. I explained that we are a nursery school, situated in Wiltshire, in the south of England. Most of the children here are from military families. The children’s ages range from 1 year old to those nearly five years of age. We have been celebrating the festival of Dashain with the children, planting Jamara grass seeds, making Mandalas & candle holders. The children have worn traditional Nepali dress, they have listened to Nepali stories and learned about the goddess Durga’s victory over the evil Mahishasura . We ended the celebration with making and sharing some rice pudding, which was delicious. We attached some photographs to share with the children at the HVP Central. We have received some wonderful photographs from Vishnu and we have shared them with the children here. We will be sending some more photographs of the children celebrating Christmas for the children at HVP to look at.
Our families have embraced the idea of twinning with a school in Nepal; we have had some wonderful warm feedback from parents, carers and grandparents. Our Nepalese families have also enjoyed hearing about HVP Central and we feel the scheme is building better relationships within our community.
We were hoping to raise £1500.00 for the school and so far we have £1650.00. We held a sponsored Toddle Waddle in November and we are holding a raffle at the end of term, so many local companies have donated some wonderful prizes. Sadly, our main event, The Christmas Extravaganza has been cancelled as we felt it would be wrong to go ahead with it due to a local spike in COVID cases. We are hoping to reschedule the Extravaganza in the summer term, which will provide us with another opportunity to raise funds, by means of a cake sale.
We would like to thank you all for this opportunity. It has enriched the curriculum and the experiences we provide for the children. It has made our Nepali families feel at home and given them more confidence to be part of the nursery community. We wish you all the very best for Christmas and the coming year.
Did you know that whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday – you could be raising free donations for HVP Nepal-UK with easyfundraising?
There are over 4,000 shops and sites on board ready to make a donation – including eBay, Argos, John Lewis, ASOS, Booking.com and M&S – and it won’t cost you a penny extra to help us raise funds.
All you need to do is:
1. Go to https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/hvpnepal-uk/?utm_campaign=raise-more and join for free.
2. Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping.
3. After you’ve checked out, the retailer will make a donation to HVP Nepal-UK at no extra cost to you whatsoever!
There are no catches or hidden charges and HVP Nepal-UK will be really grateful for your donations.
Thank you for your support.
Interested in joining the committee?
The next meeting of the HVP Nepal-UK Committee will be a Zoom meeting on Saturday 29th January, 2022. Please let us know if you might be interested in joining the team and becoming involved in the working of a small and very welcoming NGO. Contact as at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you.
In the meantime, from everyone at HVP Nepal-UK, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!