Annual Report 2016

“The heart must have hands and hands must have a heart”, with this Tibetan wisdom I would like to welcome you. Because you have both, a heart and hands we already can look back to five successful years.

What have we accomplished in 2016?

We had many members and friends visiting Nepal during the past year.

Viviane had gone there to do research for her bachelor degree in the empowerment of women. Her research was very successful and she received her degree with high marks and it’s my honor to congratulate her.

We had a volunteer, Sabrina, for three months. She brought a lot of energy to her work with the kindergarten children.

Mylène, our board member was very active throughout the entire year. She organized a fundraising event in which individual runners were sponsored. This brought us 6,000 Swiss Francs. Another event was the Christmas market that she planned together with her school class. This also brought us another 2,000 Swiss Francs. Thank you so much Mylène for all your efforts. She also visited our Kindergarten in May after having completed her extreme bike tour to Mount Everest in Tibet.

Carina also spent some time in Nepal and had fruitful talks with the team in Kathmandu.

In May my friend and sponsor Susanne accompanied me to Nepal. We had a good time together and she had the opportunity to share her wealth of teaching experience with the teachers of Mount View School.

In September, Marina, my daughter also spent some days in Nepal and was quite impressed about both, the Kindergarten and Vocational School.

I am delighted that so many of our friends are taking the opportunity to visit our projects and I am always happy to receive their feedback.

Two members instead of accepting birthday gifts donated the received money to our association. This brought us another 2,000 Swiss Francs.

We also had the visit from Nepal. The school director of our partner school in Kathmandu visited us, together with his wife who is a member of our NGO in Nepal. Besides lots of sightseeing, they were able to gain experience in our Swiss education system. They got the opportunity to see the Swiss educative system, student-centered system in action and they left Switzerland with many new ideas. In addition my son’s sport team donated sport outfits for their students in Kathmandu.

End of October we organized yoga classes as a fundraiser. Thank you Sara for having given us this opportunity.

And soon after I travelled again to Nepal, this time in the company of Marianne and Gaby. In our luggage we also carried four laptops donated by Jérome Scheidegger of Koch & Partner for our vocational school in Pokhara.

Besides our project work we visited Buddha’s Birthplace Lumbini, the place of power and inspiration. During our two day trip we followed the life of Siddharta in various sacred places. Rajkumar and Meena Maharjan offered the break from our work and we enjoyed a lot together. Thank you for this great adventure! 

Of course I am also always involved in preparing presentations and potential supporters invite me to inform about our association. Our work only can be fruitful if we are able to gain new donors and hold the previous ones. That’s why we need an accurate and transparent work here and in Nepal.

This was a short summary from our association side here in Switzerland. Now I would like to share some information about my intensive work for our projects in Nepal.

It’s already four years ago that we had opened our Kindergarten Aasha Preparatory School in Kathmandu. Since then 34 children have had the opportunity to receive more hope in their childhood and school education. Already 13 have left our preschool for further primary school education.

Each time when I visit the school I am happy to see their good spirit, the smile on their faces, the motivated and helpful teachers and a caring housemother. The house is kept nice and appropriate for children. Mothers and the school family cultivate the garden. For me it’s a place of happiness and hope!

Nevertheless, sometimes I have to make some decisions not always appreciated by everybody. During my visit in May I had to let the team know that we need a more professional teaching system. Our preschool should not appear to be just a time passing institution. We want to achieve the best education and preparation for further education in Primary School. This means that our teachers need to work more professionally. Our school principal, Sony, had to attend a one-week course for the Montessory teaching methods system. She returned to school with an enormous amount of knowledge and was able to teach her colleagues after. Also, we had to replace our nursery teacher with a new more qualified one. With the great help of Meena Maharjan we found the suitable one, but sadly she left the school after only two months. Fortunately, we immediately found a very good substitute. When I came back in November I found a very harmonizing and active team. The very small kids in nursery class are taught now in a system suitable for them with lots of singing, dancing, drawing and playing. They learn from storytelling and from much more.

Thanks to our financial situation school uniforms were tailored for all our children. The students received two pairs of uniforms and they have so the responsibility to come clean dressed to school.

Whenever I am in Kathmandu we go for an excursion. In May we visited the zoo, in November the botanical garden. We always enjoy a picnic and we bring along momos, biscuits or cake and some mothers prepare some food to share. It’s always a great time and a highlight is also the bus drive to the place. For this I would like to thank Rajkumar and Meena to always allow us to use their school bus for free. We are really spoilt from our friends of Mount View School.

During my time in May a health check visit was organized. Most of the kids are healthy, two were under-weight and some had lack in vitamins. Our doctor takes good care of our children and so they all got the necessary therapy.

Also, when I am in Nepal I plan meetings with the mothers/parents in our Aasha Preparatory School and in Mount View School. These are to greet and to thank them for their most appreciated help in gardening work and taking care of their children. But I also have to remind everyone that parents have the responsibility towards their children, we only are the supporters for their education. This means that certain things are to be provided by parents and not by the institution.

I meet with our NGO members to discuss school and house issues. I took a look into financials and everything appears transparent and proper.

I also visit our children at Mount View School. Here I want to emphasize that the children remain Aasha Children until they leave school. I am really very happy to have found Mount View School and I am sure that our children can achieve a great future. According to their teachers our children seem to be hard workers, something I have observed so many times during my work in Nepal. The more the children have a low educative background, the more they are motivated in studying.

I believe this is what makes our work so beneficial and satisfactory. It’s a great pleasure to be there for these children and accompany them to a bright future. 

I was also invited to a parents’ day at Mount View School. Our kids performed a wonderful dance and song with the help of their teachers, which brought me to tears. Standing on stage I received an award for my work. This award I would like to give over to you, my dear teams in Switzerland and Nepal, to my sponsors and donors. Without of you all the work could not be done. I also tried my best to give a speech peppered with some Nepali words. I know it’s a shame I still don’t speak Nepali! It was indeed a very emotional day.

To have our work assured also in the future we still are searching for sponsors for our small children.

Our second project is Asha Vocational School in Pokhara. We started the construction in January 2016 after receiving substantial donations from sponsors believing in the need of such an institution.

It has also been touching for me when I weekly received pictures from the construction site, everything, each single stone has been carried with human hands; from women and men! Also seeing that here arises a school under the patronage of HOPE have been emotional moments for me. The first building was erected extremely fast and during my first visit in May we decided on the colors yellow and green, the colors of sun and hope. The construction of the second building happened to take place during monsoon season and until now has not yet been completed. But we hope to have the inauguration celebration in May 2017.

Already during the construction phase, some training batches could take place in the first building. One of them was a project under the NGO helpnepal Switzerland. I met the president Mona in 2015 and we decided to work together in the field of carpentry, producing the wooden cover for flourmills from Germany. With the help of some friends also traveling to Nepal we carried the electric motors of the mills from here and the students together with our coordinators Kul and Narayan tried to fabricate the wooden cover. They look good and some machines are now under testing. Our coordinators are also evaluating if the project is sustainable as there are already Chinese products in the country. Ours will surely be a qualitatively better choice, but also more expensive. If we can be competitive, they are now deciding this.

This project is funded by helpnepal.ch.

During the visit in November together with Marianne and Gaby, we organized a baking class workshop. We introduced some Swiss bakery to our Nepali students. We had great fun and also the outcome was successful. But we also experienced some new challenges; power outages and lack of water. Also, we had to explain some hygienic steps before starting to work in kitchen. Not so easy if there is not enough water, even though an important issue in a food working station.

I also had meetings with the Asha Education Foundation Board Members; I checked the books and could find everything in proper and transparent form. The workers are paid in the normal frame, and my feeling was to see only happy faces on construction side.

As Michele Obama encouraged in one of her last speeches as First Lady, we need to educate the young people. We need to give opportunities and good qualification to manpower and not only to focus on those going to college. This speech heartened me and I am more than convinced that we are on the right track with our vocational school.

These are our two big projects, but we can’t forget our third one, the Tibetan kindergarten in Hemja close to Pokhara. Every year we support the kindergarten with 2,000 Swiss Francs with which we extend our hands for a daily milk ration for the children, purchase of school material and toys and some maintenance work. This house seems also to be a place of happiness and hope. I always enjoy my visits and the children are awaiting their chocolate auntie eagerly. 

Finally, I will not forget to express my gratitude to all of you:

The sponsors and donors because without their support nothing could be realized, the board for their help and inspiration, the audit for their assistance and proof of the annual financial statement, the teams in Kathmandu and Pokhara for their enormous assistance, my family for their great support and to my Tibetan friend Sonam for the delicious momos we could enjoy after our general assembly.

I am happy and thankful that together we can spread out Hope, Warmth and Education in Nepal.

Barbara Roniger / Magden, 17 March 2017