Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Primary Teacher's Training Program Conducted by MSH, Nepal

The Primary Teachers' Training Program was successfully conducted on April 15th and April 16th 2011 by the MySmallHelp team in Sanjiwani English School at Dhulikhel, Nepal. There were 30 participants from various schools and there were three teachers  responsible for the format and execution of the program - Sabina Thapa, Sachi Guragain, Geeta Pradhan and Roshni Khatri. The teachers conducting the training are well-established in the primary education sector and have attended and conducted such sessions in the past. The program ran over two day and the duration was approximately six hours each day.

The training session was initiated with an opening ceremony, where the participants and guest were welcomed by the principal of the school, Mr. Indra Basnet. The introduction highlighted the structure for the two days and also the  continuing importance of such training sessions in the education system in Nepal.

 For the rest of the session, the participants were divided into smaller groups, in order to facilitate a more structured discussion. Further activities were also organised such as reciting poems, playing games and creating job charts, in order to demonstrate the importance of putting theory into practice.

The overall feedback was that the training was very effective in allowing each participant to gain knowledge on how to create a better learning environment. The different techniques used by the trainers have also helped the participants realise their own potential in the classroom and different ways in which they can reach children of different learning capabilities. Sanjivani English School have also committed to publish the results of the training session in their local newsletter to highlight the success and importance of such training sessions in the future.

The program was concluded by Mr. Indra Basnet, where all the participants, the trainers and MSH were heartily thanked. Based on initial observation, MSH also feel that such a training facility will be beneficial on a regular basis and look forward to organising more events in the future. MSH will actively seek to obtain written feedback from the teachers and also monitor progress with an interview with the participant teachers by arranging meeting with them in three months time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Volunteers - Jenny and Alex

We have just arrived in Ollantaytambo to work with Leander at MySmallHelp and what a busy and eventful start it has been! It has become clear very quickly that there is an awful lot of need in this area due to poverty and a lack of understanding and education. Our first few days have been a whirlwind of meeting new people, administrative work and long conversations about how best to help the people here who need it the most.
One great achievement MSH has made this week is securing school places for a number of disabled children living in the area. Access to education and stimulation will undoubtedly make their lives much fuller and more rewarding. Yet this achievement creates its own problem of how to find the funds to send the children to school on a private bus each day.
We have also been working with the charity Awamaki, to ensure home visits to a number of disabled people in the area are continued. The partnership aims to provide support, stimulation and company for these people, many of whom have been terribly neglected in their lives because of a lack of understanding of their illnesses and a lack of resources and support.
As well as working on the Disabled Outreach Program we have brainstormed about volunteer schemes, taken the children next door who are sponsored through MSH shopping for new school shoes and watered the plants at a local rehabilitation centre in time for its grand opening in May. The centre will provide rehabilitation, training in guinea pig rearing and lots of other helpful services and is funded by the government.
What has certainly become clear this week is that partnership between different agencies and organizations is something that can be beneficial for all involved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clothes Donated by Kind Hearted Tourist to MSH

Mysmallhelp was thrilled to be the recipients of some clothing from kind hearted tourists last week. David Waugh McInnes from Ayrshire, Scotland and  Ana Belen Daza Valdivia from Spain walked from the infamous Freak Street, Basantapur to Gwarko, Laliptur (75 minutes) to deliver some clothing that they no longer need. We spent some time sharing ideas about howto make the charity stronger, and better known over a glass of sweet Nepali tea before our new found friends left for their next destination.The clothes will be well used and appreciated by the children and the
 families that MSH supports. 

Thank you David and Ana!  The Mysmallhelp team hopes you enjoy your next adventure...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Working in El Milagro

Louise Whitaker
10th April 2011
El Milagro is a poor barrio between the laid back surf town of Huanchaco and Trujillo, Peru´s third largest city. El Milagro means miracle.  This part of Peru is desert and not a lot grows here. There is little water. Houses are constructed out of adobe type material, old plastic bags and tarpaulins and the floors are just hardened sand, concrete and dirt. Water is delivered in by the municipalidad every 8 days and families top up this free water buy buying 12 buckets worth for 3 soles.

It is in this area that MySmallHelp has chosen to work. The Trujillo team of Deisy and Helen have spent the last 2 months busily helping 5 mothers enroll 16 of their children (some of whom were working in the rubbish dump with them, collecting 1kg of plastic bottles to receive just 1.5 soles) in to school. This hasn´t been an easy task, as paperwork was missing, names had been mis-spelt and some of the mothers illiteracy slowed down the work. The children of these mothers are in 6 different schools close to where the mothers live. Some of the children have special needs or learning difficulties and the schools they are in reflect this. Deisy, Helen and Leander have been busy supporting these mothers and finding funds to enable these mothers to send their children to school safe in the knowledge that the fees will be paid for the first year.

Our recent meeting with the mothers was to understand what skills and abilities the mothers have to enable them to set up little businesses, that they can run from home, which will enable them to earn money so they don´t have to rely on foreign donations.

We spoke about numerous ideas. The favoured one seemed to be working with a Limenian tshirt designer who can help the women learn how to screenprint his designs on to tshirts to be sold in Trujillo and Huanchaco to tourists. We are busy now working out the costs of this, as water is required for this process and it is not in great supply here.  MySmallHelp already has shops selling these tshirts in Cusco and in Lima. The next stage is to write a business plan  and conduct some market research in the area.

The pictures below show the barrio of El Milagro

The truck from the municipalidad bringing in water

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parent's Day at Marybert School

 9th April, 2011

Dancing, singing, recital of nursery rhymes and an enthusiastic farewell to some of the older students at Marybert School and Orphanage created a fun and memorable Parent & Community Day on Saturday, April 9th.
 The packed program started with a cheer as a group of suitably attired children sang the nepali national anthem. The children were so unique in their dance styles (even the synchronised group dances!) that it was impossible to focus on only one of them for any length of time.

The youngsters from the nursery, and lower / upper kindergarten were like angels from entertainment heaven! Big smiles, awkward legs with knees and toes turned in, and ever so slightly out of time ‘hands and fingers, knees and toes’ (why do anything differently!) kept us all smiling.

At the end of the day the grade five students graduated with cap, scarf and a certificate from the Principal, Mrs Sabina Thapa Kayastha. Their emotions were obvious as they smiled with joy and grew tearful at reaching the end of their schooling at Marybert. It was a fitting tribute that grade five student Rozy Tamang  delivered a beautiful and eloquent speech thanking the teachers and fellow pupils. Rozy had already wowed the crowd with a lively and passionate song titled ‘I’m alive’.
 The pupils were given prizes for highest marks and for tidiest desks before Sabina announced that they had also secured second position in an inter school relay competition held at Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu. Well done Marybert!

Exhibits from the recent photography project organized  by volunteer Jo Young and the my small help team were appreciated and provoked laughter as parents noticed the children had stuck carrots in their socks, chilli peppers in their ears, and made simple props into playful weapons for the abstract photo shoot.

After a fun and eventful day the children enjoyed cookies and juice, and prepared to settle into a week’s rest from their schooling.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Super Mums

Louise Whitaker
1st April 2011

I just wanted to write a blog entry about the mother of Jose Alfredo and the mother of Frank. These women are poor but patient, loving and calm. They both have large 18 year old boys who cannot feed themselves, bath themselves, speak or amuse themselves.  As well as this, both are single mothers who have other children. Abandoned by their husbands, I would imagine, due to the stigma attached with having a disabled child. Often the mother is blamed for this.

The women were an inspiration. They were doing everything they had in their power and in their financial ability (which is not a lot) to get these children to Equip Kids International to get new wheelchairs to improve theirs and their children´s lives.  I would think that having a child in England with a severe disability would be challenging enough, but here, the enormity of the task seemed greater. Houses are built of adobe, there is no hot water and evenings and days in the rainy season can be extremely cold. No-one has heating here in Cusco.  There is no government financial support for families and certainly no careers allowance. The pavements are shoddy, rarely consistently passable for a wheelchair, disabled toilets hardly exist and disabled friendly taxis  are never seen. Added to that people stare. Disabled children are kept in the home generally or in institutions. Children and adults on the streets of Cusco when we took Lurdes out and in the bus station stop and stare. A few ask questions ,but mainly they just stare.

These Mums are amazing and they and their children are exactly the reason why Leander and MySmallHelp have decided to continue to work in Peru.

Jose Alfredo´s mother is an inspiration. She is seen here leaning on Jose´s legs as he was unable to hold himself up in the slippy plastic chairs in the bus terminal.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

An exciting journey

Louise Whitaker
March 31th 2011

What an effort. It was an eye-opener getting two severely disabled children- Lurdes and Jose Alfredo, plus their mothers, Jose Alfredo´s little brother, two volunteers and Leander and myself to dinner and then to the bus station ahead of the children´s 10 hour overnight bus journey to Arequipa to collected bespoke wheelchairs.

Even before the journey started we were on a mission. To be eligible to get these wheelchairs, the family of each child had to provide:  the child´s birth certificate and DNI number (like our NI number), the parents DNI, case notes from the hospital on the child and proof of address in the form of a light or water bill. The team had 4 days to gather this information which was made more difficult due to the bureaucracy, red tape and out of date systems that exist in rural Peru. All of our team here had a task to do, which normally involved waiting….and waiting and paying a few extra soles to the correct people get the whole thing sped up.

Once we reached the bus station Lourdes, Jose Alfredo and his little brother Abel were so excited to be going on a journey. We bought them drinks and snacks and saw them safely on the bus with their escorts Sunny from Awamaki and Cristian, from MysmallHelp.  We had also met another mother who was at the station with her severely disabled son Frank. She was desperately hoping that someone would give her the money to make the journey to Arequipa. We decided to help her and so she joined the group as they drove off to Arequipa to receive their wheelchairs from Equip Kids International. Once again I was reminded of the colossal effort it had taken to get the guys on their way to receive such kindly donated wheelchairs. A reminder that even such a lovely gesture as giving a wheelchair to a disabled child who so desperately needs it, requires patience, relationships with families and knowledge of how to get around the Peruvian health and social services system.

Jose Alfredo filling up before the journey

Saying hello to Frank who was travelling
 to Arequipa for a wheelchair

Jose Alfredo receives help to board the bus