On request, Dion Smit recently wrote a report of his stay in Sailung Nepal. Dion was a teacher at the ROC in Amersfoort and Utrecht and decided in 2018 to make a long trip in Asia with a stay in Sailung at the beginning of his trip to teach there.
An experience to never forget, anyway.
A long drive, on unfinished roads and a hike of an hour and a half to the village. My mouth fell open when I saw the beautiful landscape and the accompanying view.
I was received by a large warm family. Almost everyone who lives within a few kilometers is related to each other. Together with Krishna my host and Shanti my hostess we often visited their family. These visits were all about being together and eating together. What struck me was that most houses are in bad shape and Krishna told me that the family does not have the money to fix it.
'Back to basics'
that's how it felt to me. Making a fire every night in one of the small rooms is crucial in December, because after the sun goes down it is freezing in the house. Every week I made a fire outside to heat water so that I could wash my clothes and take a shower.
I went to school with Krishna daily. The children would run from all sides. I already had trouble descending to school, because the paths are steep and narrow. I have great admiration for the children, knowing that they sometimes come from far away and then walk up and down the hill to school for thirty minutes every day. According to Krishna, there are also children who go much further and who now live with relatives so that they can learn from Krishna and his teachers.
Lots of fun
I notice that the children learn quickly and with great pleasure. They are also curious about me, because the chance that these children meet someone from another country is very small. Life in Sailung is therefore all about life in Sailung. The cultivation and cultivation of vegetables has the highest priority. If the children do not go to school, they must also help on the land. Krishna told me that most parents have had little or no education. School is the only place for extra help when the children don't understand something. The parents do not know how to encourage their children to learn, because they have never learned that themselves. At home it is often about washing, cooking, cleaning, caring for animals, caring for the elderly, etc. There is almost no time for homework.
What I see is that the children work hard at school. The teachers are on top with a lot of care and dedication. It was a shock to me to see that the students were sitting on a rug to study. However, I saw that the students were okay with it. I quickly realized by seeing their home situation that the children are used to living with little. How cool would it be if these children could learn in the future in a safe and educational environment, with chairs and benches. Wonderful to see how the teachers and Krishna, did everything to brighten up the rooms by means of drawings and decorations.
Something that appeals to me is the accessibility of the village. For something like medication you have to walk down the hill for an hour and a half. Let alone building a sustainable and safe school.
The people in Sailung live with little. There is no money for new equipment, such as a kettle or toys for the children. The children play with stones, twigs and empty plastic bottles. People try to repair everything that breaks themselves. It seems as if they turn every dime around because the harvest can be disappointing. However, when family come over or visitors from abroad, they turn out big and help the whole family prepare a festive meal. Partly due to this charity towards each other, Krishna's school initially got off the ground.
… Can be happier with less.
Nepalese is something I had to learn, because only the teachers, Krishna and Shanti could speak English well. In addition, I was surprised by the level of the children. I think the English level of children was extremely good. Communicating with the parents and other locals was sometimes difficult, luckily I got very far with my hands and feet.
I look back with pleasure on my experience in Sailung. Despite the distressing living conditions, I get the impression that the people there are satisfied with what they have. This has made me realize that I too can be happier with less.