Khiraule village is in the Solu Khumbu/Everest region of Nepal near the regional town of Bung. It is 4 days trek east from the airport at Phaplu. The villagers identified a need for a school 22 years ago and built a make shift one out of bamboo and the Government provided them with a teacher. A few years later Sir Edmund Hilary’s Trust provided £200 and the villagers built a stone school with three class rooms but they still only had one teacher.
Khiraule is the home village of Lhakpa Sherpa and he and his wife Pat Steel started to raise funds for the school in l996. By 1998, they had raised enough money to build an additional two classrooms and living accommodation for two teachers which the Government were then providing. There were approximately 50 children. Lhakpa and Pat continued to raise money in order to rebuild and refurbish the school and in 2007 the school was rebuilt including new desks and benches, glass windows, and white boards. They also provided a small first aid kit and small amount of sport equipment. This cost approximately £4000. They have also funded a further assistant teacher at a cost of £720 per year.
The number of children varies from 60 to 90 from 55 families. This primary school has 5 classes covering grades 1 to 5, ages 4 years to 9 years though there are older children in the school up to age 12 years. Lhakpa and Pat, who are residents of Barbon in the Lune Valley, continued to raise funds and started to involve their trekking friends in the UK.
Future needs fall into 3 main categories;
a. Health Care training and equipment
Khiraule village has no trained medical staff and any health needs must be referred to the nearest clinics at Bung or Sotang, many hours walk away. There is a first aid kit at the school but of limited use without trained staff to use it. In 2011 a school bag trek included 2 retired medical doctors in the group who helped with some specific needs on arrival at the village – they confirmed the need for establishing trained staff and supplies. On their way home from the village, the 2 doctors discussed such training at the Medical Centre in Sotang and it was agreed to train 2 teachers from the village for a period of one month – this started in April 2011. It was also agreed to upgrade the existing first aid supplies at the school.
b. Improvements to the current school building
The current school building is only 4 years old and is very robust with a good corrugated sheet roof. However the internal walls are rough stone and the floors are bare earth. It was agreed that both interior walls and the floors could be added using locally sourced timber.
c. Lower Secondary School
After grade 5 (usually age 9 years) children must go to Bung or Sotang to continue on to lower secondary school (grades 6,7,8). This involves a long daily journey (at least 2 hours each way) or even weekly boarding with the additional cost of this. Many parents feel this is too much for a 9 year old and consequently some children are held back from continuing their education for several years.
The visitors and the school committee agreed that building and staffing a lower secondary school was a high priority. It was concluded that this significant project should be a joint venture between the village and the visitors. The villagers proposed that they would build the extra classrooms themselves and they asked the visitors to help with funding the additional teachers needed until such time as the government took over this cost.
It is understood that the current project phase is likely to cost of the order of £15,000. Although this can be regarded as large sum its purchasing power in local terms is transformational.
Support from the Rotary Club of Kendal
Responding to the wish of the District Governor that clubs in the area support literacy projects overseas, the Rotary Club of Kendal decided that this project not only met the DG’s aspiration, but it also presented some additionally attractive features, including:
- Direct aid via local Cumbria residents with very little in the way of administrative costs, ensuring a concentration of fund raising to meet immediate need
- The Everest Region of Nepal and its established relationship with the UK climbing community, not least those who also enjoy the allure of the Lakeland Fells
- The long affinity that exists between the UK and Nepal, exemplified by the Gurkha Regiment and its continuing active role as part of the British Army
- A significant contribution to health care in an area of great need
Our Club is committed to supporting this project and, in April, it organised a supper and quiz for 50 Rotarians and their guests at which Pat and Lhakpa made a short slide presentation to show village life and the work which is planned for the future. The event raised a pleasing £630 and support for further events in the future is planned.
Should other Rotary Clubs wish to consider supporting this project, and perhaps hear Pat & Lhakpa speak at one of their meetings please use our contact form.