Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

We were trying to think of what to write for a blog this week, and the best idea we’d had was a traditional Christmas Family letter style blog. Till Wednesday when we had a fun morning out.

Kathmandu is getting very cold at the moment and so, with no central heating the evenings (at 5oC) are uncomfortable without a heater. We’ve been using a gas heater which had been playing up a bit with the flame shooting up a lot higher than it was supposed to, making us reluctant to use it. So rubbish at DIY Dan decided to investigate.

Changing the gas bottle worked, but on closer investigation I realised the gas bottle seemed to be leaking a little, but only when it was turned on. So I decided to change the regulator to see if that helped, it didn’t, the bottle still leaked.

Now the fun started while trying to change the regulator, as the plastic pipe going to the regulator was attached so tightly I couldn’t pull it off, so out came my trusty penknife to slice the pipe off (gas turned off by this point). To be honest I’ve always thought my pen knife was a bit blunt. My thumb proved otherwise…

And so, a dash up to Patan Hospital. Now I had picked the best time of the week to do the slicing, 8.45am on a Wednesday morning, as the Foreigners clinic is at 9am on a Wednesday. So we stuck our head in and asked if they did stitches. The two doctors and one nurse were having a quiet morning with no other patients in so they were happy to help.

Becky, being no fan of blood, needles and other such stuff, elected to wait outside the room while the doctors and nurse set to work. While trying to put anaesthetic into Dan’s thumb (right on the middle knuckle) Dan decided he’d had enough and passed out through the pain.

So Dan ended up having his two stitches done, while lying on the floor of the room, with two doctors a nurse, and now Becky in attendance.
And now for something completely different…

We wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. May you know God’s Blessings as we celebrate the birth of His Son Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Here are two videos we've enjoyed recently, to do with our life here, kind of...

KISC - "This Is Us" is a selection of photos taken around school by a professional photographer on her recent visit and put together with music.

KISC - This Is Us from kisc school on Vimeo.

This video has been put together by a good friend of ours and the voice over is from another good friend. We thought it was quite funny, not that we are advertising the organisation (International Nepal Fellowship) or suggesting that these gifts would make excellent Christmas presents, although of course they would.

The KISC website has also been updated and relaunched recently. To take a look go to There is loads of information about KISC on here, which wouldn't be interesting to most of our readers, but some of it might, particularly the galleries page. You may also want to look at the vacancies page, just in case you know anyone you might be interested in working at KISC.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


“In honour of the auspicious occasion of Dashain Festival and Tihar Festival 2010 we are happy to present this offer of buy one BrandName Cup a Soup, get one free”

Monsoon is finished. The weather is cooling. The fields are green and the rivers are full. School is on holiday. The first kites are being flown over the housetops. The nights are drawing in. Festival season is upon us.

I saw the above offer in a local shop yesterday, and felt it was almost too good to turn down, but turn it down I did. However all the shops have banners of various sizes wishing us a Happy Dashain 2010 (or 2067 depending on how Nepali they are) and there are many billboards expressing similar wishes.

Dashain is the biggest Hindu festival here in Nepal and consists of 10 days of festivities where various things are celebrated and worshiped (including cars!) and is followed by a week of visiting family etc, a bit like the week between Christmas and New Year in the UK. So in total about 17 days of worship and festivities. It starts tomorrow but the first few days are usually quite quiet and schools and work continues until the bigger celebrations next week.

Tihar then follows at the end of the first week of November. Better known as Diwali this is the festival of light, and we blogged about it last year.

Although Nepal is now officially a secular country, Hinduism is obviously still the de facto religion. It can be a difficult time for Nepali Christians who don’t wish to partake in the celebrations and festivities as there can be pressure from family and community to join in.

We’re spending the holiday by heading of to Pokhara for a 5 days of rest and relaxation, and 3 days of trekking. Thought we’d give trekking a go with Samuel, to see how he, and his porter Dad, find it. We’ve not been to Pokhara since before Samuel was born, so it will be nice to go back, and spend some time away from the hustle, bustle and pollution of Kathmandu.

The photos on this blog were taken on a recent walk (and we confess none by us but by our skilled photographer friend, Catherine).

Monday, 20 September 2010

One Year On

This week we passed the one year anniversary of our return to Nepal as a Family. Looking back over that year it has been an interesting time with some good times and plenty of challenges. We thought for this update we might highlight some of the more significant ones.

Vice Principal

Our return a year ago signalled the start of Dan’s work as the Vice Principal of the Secondary School. Although a lot of the main parts of his job description he was already doing before, such as the timetable, assessment and being a member of the SMT, it’s amazing how just having a title placed on you increases the amount of what we like to call “dukkha” that comes your way. (I’m sure no translation is needed).

We’ve already mentioned in other blogs and letters about the biggest challenge in that time has been being without the Secondary Principal for 6 months, however she is now back and Dan is enjoying being part of a principaled team!

Dan would say he’s enjoyed so much of the work that he has done over the last year and taking on the challenges of the role. It helps that he’s working in an great school that has some fantastic students, and really great staff too.


While Parenthood began a little longer than a year ago, it was the return to Nepal that saw Dan go back to work full time and Becky become a full time house mum. This brings with it extra challenges living in a city like Kathmandu with it’s lack of green space and activities specially designed for one year olds. However, it also brings with it a great community. Becky has built up a strong relationship with another first time mother of a baby just a couple of months younger than Samuel. She’s also been able to join a mothers prayer group, a singing group and frequented at least two other mums and tots groups from time to time.

Becoming One

Samuel has faced all the normal challenges of a 3 month old to a 15 month old and taken them in his stride. He has learnt to sit up, walk, start to talk and have lots of fun in the process. He has a good friend in William, the son of Becky’s close friend, and managed to see more of the world than the average one year old. As you can see from the photo above he's adapting well to the culture. Next month he’s off on his first trek!

Transient Community

The mission community is always changing and during this year we have said goodbye to some great friends with whom we built up good friendships during our first, Samuel-less, stint here. There are always people leaving Nepal, and of course arriving, but saying goodbye always seems much harder than the joys of the Hello’s. Also, the longer we are the harder it seems to build good new friendships, as in the back of your mind there is always the thought, we’ll just have to say goodbye to these guys soon. However, we do try to fight that and invest in new relationships and are thankful for the new people that are always arriving. The photo is from a get together with two other familes we had, one of which left Nepal last week.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

New School Year

Tomorrow is the start of the new school year. We’ve had a lovely five week summer break, of which nearly four we spent in the UK. It was great to see loads of family, the photos on this blog are of Samuel and his Grandparents, and quite a few friends while we were there, sorry if we didn’t get to see you.

Regular readers will know that a key issue is always staff. As my role in the Secondary is managing the timetable and allocating all the staff; working out exactly how many we need and to do which jobs is one of my main concerns. Well we are delighted to be fully staffed for the start of this year, thanks to a number of new staff that are joining us for this year.

In the secondary we have a new Art teacher from Holland, and a teacher of junior Science who had joined us from India. We have a guy from Switzerland on his gap year here for 8 weeks to work as a teaching assistant. We also have a couple from the US who’ve come out with their 3 children. He’ll be helping teach some of the music and she will be one of the Primary class teachers. We’ve actually got 2 other new Primary class teachers, one in her 20’s and another who’s a bit later on in her career who’ve come from the States. The primary are also blessed with quite a few gap year students this year who are coming for one or two terms, including one I met on Friday who’s come out from Northern Ireland to do some PE and Art. But best of all (from my point of view) we have the returning Secondary Principal who’s back after 6 months home leave in Australia.

I was talking with her and the Head of the whole School on Friday about our staffing and while we are extremely pleased to have so many good new staff coming we also realised that we were the only 3 Mission members of staff who are committed for longer than the next two years. This is part of the nature of the school. So many staff come and go during each year it does make some things hard.

However, so many of the staff have a huge impact even in just a short space of time. One that springs to mind is a Northern Irish girl that came out to help with PE for 6 months at the end of 2008, but had to leave early due to a knee injury. Many of the students remember her well and are looking forward to her return in January 2011. Another is a couple who came from Australia in January, she is now taking on the role of Head of the English Faculty and he is about to run the school play this term. They are due to return to Australia at Christmas, but they will leave a significant legacy from just one year’s service.

Opps. Forgot to mention one new member of staff in the secondary. A certain former KISC Geography teacher who is returning this term to teach some of the A-Level. Goes by the name of Becky!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


As you may have heard, the deadline for the constitution passed peacefully on the 28th May with a last minute agreement being made between the main parties to extend the Constitutional Assembly for one year.

There were three points to the agreement; compromises that the parties agreed to make in the coming days. However, nearly a month later we have not seen any move on these three points and so no unifying government has been created.

The main issue of contention seems to be that one party want the Prime Minister to step down. He has said he will do that once it has been decided who will take his place and how things will be handed over so as not to leave a power vacuum. He also wants the other parts of the agreement to be meet, but the other parties want him to go first.

So it seems to be at a deadlock at the moment, as the various parties discuss who might go forward for the post when it becomes available.

However, whoever the candidates are, a majority need to agree on who should take the post and there is no party with a majority and no coalition seems to be forming between any parties.

So all still seems a little unsure here at the moment and the constitution is still not moving forward.

In other news:
Samuel celebrated his first birthday a couple of weeks ago, and you can see he enjoyed the cake in the photo.

We’re still waiting for the monsoon to start. We’ve had a little rain over the past week or so which has temporarily relieved the oppressive heat, but nothing regular or heavy enough to make a real difference. A heavy monsoon has been predicted for this year which is needed to build up the water supplies in the reservoirs and for crops to grow so hopefully it won’t be long.

We’ll be in England for most of July for a short holiday and so are looking forward to escaping the heat for a bit, as well as seeing family and friends of course!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Noises of Nepal

Sat having breakfast this morning I could hear a man walking up the street blowing a loud blast on his whistle at short intervals and it really hit home to me what a noisy country Nepal is. Every noise has its meaning and purpose and only a few bother you after a while, but it’s never quiet.

The guy with the whistle is the garbage man and his little cart, letting people know he’s coming to collect their rubbish. Accompanying him in the streets are the fruit and vegetable sellers, who call out the produce they have with them on their bikes as they wonder the streets, the mattress stuffers who have a very primitive box guitar which they twang to inform you they are coming and the plumber who wonders along rattling a all his metal work on a big ring.

As I'm typing this I can hear the flock of pigeons who live in our neighbours roof and the carpentry factory just down our lane with its electric saw. When I say factory I mean shack propped up against the side of another building on a small strip of land. We’ve never worked out how you get in their to order your furniture as there is a wall separating the lane from the land, which is also about a 6ft drop down from the lane. Deliveries pass the wood over the wall and down to a guy below. I also heard a minute ago the elaborate sounding horn of a truck out on the ringroad which is about 400 metres from our house.

When you are out on the roads your ears are dominated by the sound of horns. I know this isn’t unique to Nepal, but it took some getting used to when coming from England. The horn is used to let people know you are there, all the time. When going round corners, overtaking cyclists or pedestrians, coming to a junction, letting your chowkhidar know you have arrived home and can he come and open the gate or just because you like the sound of it, the horn must be used.

Power makes a noise here too as so the din of generators can be heard counteracting the 12 powerless hours faced by business. Then at home when the power returns we here the noise of the fridge turning on, which is greeted with the cry of “bhatti aayo” (power has come).

In the evenings when we are watching a DVD we usually have to pause it at some point as all conversation is drowned out as a jumbo jet takes off over our house. Then we go to bed and the noise doesn’t stop. Dogs bark throughout the night, regularly setting each other off, and the cats from the house behind us were screeching at 4 yesterday morning. Then at 6 we are woken (if Sam hasn’t done so already) by the noise of the bells, trumpets and choruses from the Catholic Church behind us as they start their morning worship and the Hindu temples all around as people raise their gods by ringing bells.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Teachers Needed

Dan has returned to school this week having finished the Easter break. We had a fantastic 2 week break in Thailand. We got to go to Thailand as BMS organised a retreat for all the mission workers in Asia. We also had Dan’s sister with us for the last week of term and the first week of the holidays.

At the retreat there were about 40 mission workers who serve with BMS across 5 different countries in Asia. They do a wide variety of jobs, mostly focused around development work. There was a guy who is the administrator for an eye hospital and a lady who is training women in basic business skills. Plenty of people from Nepal who work in different projects such as one guy who is working with conflict resolution and his wife who is teaching young adults about sexual health and reproduction. A lady from Thailand who runs a foster home for disabled children and another lady who works with sexually trafficked women in Bangkok.

There were 5 families with school aged children and another 6 of us who teach the children of mission workers in different countries. And one message came from all of them. The need for more teachers. So much work is enabled by a handful of teachers who come and serve in these countries making it possible for the families to stay. At KISC we have around 160 students and the vast majority of these come from families of mission workers. Many of these workers would not be in Nepal without KISC, stopping much of the great development work going on in this country.

So if you know of anyone who is a teacher and fancies a challenge, suggest working overseas in a mission school. It’s not for everyone, but for us it has been such a privilege and we have learnt and grown so much from it. Doesn’t have to be at KISC or in Nepal, there are plenty of places around the world and plenty of missions that support this work. (But while we’re here, KISC is in urgent need of Primary Grade Teachers, a head of English, an Art teacher and a music teacher for August)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Death of a Politician

This week Nepal lost one of its most significant statesmen in the form of Girija Prasad Koirala. He passed away on Saturday at the age of 85. He had been Prime Minister of the country a total of 4 times, including as recently as 2008 and was still heavily involved in the political process.

He was Prime Minister at the time of the Royal Massacre in 2001 and was credited with playing a big part in bringing the Maoists into the political process, forming the Peace Agreement that ended the Civil War in 2006. Just last month he had been working to help bring about a consensus as the politicians work towards writing the Constitution.

The Constitution is due on the 28th May, leaving less than 70 days now for it all to be agreed and written. Most days various interest groups are protesting in Kathmandu calling for a “timely writing of the constitution”. What emerges at the end of May remains to be seen, but if a constitution fails to arrive then the consequences for the country will be significant.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Winter Rains

We awoke on Tuesday this week to find it dreary, overcast and drizzling. It was great as it reminded us of England. Winter has been mostly clear blue sky and sun all day every day, which makes outside nice and warm but very cold inside, especially in the evenings and at night. So it’s nothing like a British winter.

But Tuesday was proper British style rain all day. I was trying to explain to some of the students in my class how it was exciting for me to have “British” weather, but they didn’t share my excitement. Only the German student could understand where I was coming from. For the Korean, Nepali and Bhutanese students it was just bad weather.

As it was our first decent rain since the end of September it also prompted a little bonus electricity. As Nepal is entirely reliant on hydroelectricity, which at this time of year is a little short in supply a day of constant rain was a boost to the system.

The other bonus is that it’s cleared the skies and we’ve had fabulous views of the mountains the last couple of days. It’s a bonus as we weren’t expecting to see them again until October. Because of the pollution and weather the mountains tend to go into hiding for a few months from now.

Samuel of course doesn’t remember Britain or it’s weather nor is he bothered by the mountains or the extra electricity during the day. His current daily challenge is trying to get to the things we’ve put out of his reach. Through bum shuffling, stretching and face planting he’s able to move quite some way across the floor now. He’s trying to have a go at crawling too, but hasn’t worked out how to actually turn his leg and arm movements into body movement yet, although we’re sure it can’t be long.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New Year Walking

We’d planned to spend Friday 1st January 2010 with some friends at a Guest House that’s part of Anandaban Leprosy Hospital ( about 10 miles south of Kathmandu. The plan was to get a bus to the hospital and then go for a walk in the surrounding area, then stay the night and do a similar thing in the morning before getting a bus back.

The best laid plans of course always come unstuck, particularly here in Nepal. Unfortunately a Valley Bundh(strike) was called for New Years Day so no buses would be running. Undeterred, well sort of, we decided to walk instead. Some friends have kindly gifted us a baby carrier backpack for Samuel which worked really well, although Dan was grateful that our friend Jon offered to help carry for some of the time.

So Friday we set out for a ten mile walk, thankfully along mostly flat roads. The road we walked along normally has 1000 trucks a day going up and down it as there is a big quarry near the hospital but because of the bundh it was absolutely void of traffic. This made for a really peaceful walk and we provided much of the entertainment as we walked through the villages with a 7 month old baby.

The guest house was lovely and homely and we enjoyed an evening of chatting and playing games before heading back the next day. We walked over the hills for about 5-6 miles to the next village when we got a bus back into Kathmandu. It was a great way to spend some time with our friends who leave Nepal at the end of the month to return to the UK and a great way to see in the New Year.

Happy New Year Everyone

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Christmas Day in Nepal

I thought for this blog you might like to know what Christmas Day was like for us here in Nepal, as it probably has many similarities and some differences to the Christmas Day you celebrated.

Samuel woke us up nice and early on Christmas Day, not because he was excited, but because that is what he does every morning. Soon after we had a breakfast of porridge and tea, the same as most days this time of year. Porridge is a must most mornings as it warms you up, the temperature here at the minute means you can see your breath indoors. We then opened our presents and soon after headed off for church – not that different to a British Christmas so far.

However Church on Christmas Day in Nepal is significantly different. It’s a day when many Hindu’s come to church as they understand it’s a special day, so most churches put on special “programmes” rather than a nice short Christmas service. Our church lasted 2 ½ hours, and included amongst other things a traditional Nepali dance.

However, some of our friends’ churches went on all day (although most of them didn’t stay the whole day). After church a nice big DhalBhat (lentils & rice) with vegetable and chicken curry was put on. We managed to resist the server’s efforts to give huge quantities to the Bideshi’s so as not to spoil our western Christmas dinner coming later.

Soon after we headed home and started work on cooking our Christmas dinner, for which we had 6 guests coming. We were aiming for a 4pm serving, a slightly strange time, but we couldn’t do it much earlier due to the length of church and size of dhalbhats that took up the morning and early afternoon. But then the power went off at four making the other option 8pm which seemed a bit late. However come about three thirty it was clear that the large oven we were borrowing to cook the chicken breasts and potatoes was still not much better than warm, despite having been on for an hour. We faced the prospect of a ruined dinner, but we managed to squeeze enough chicken breasts into our little oven and we decided boiled potatoes would be fine thereby enabling us to enjoy our Christmas lunch at 4pm as planned.

Christmas lunch was especially enjoyable for Samuel who was given a selection of vegetables to enjoy. We were both distracted with being hosts and the lively conversation and suddenly realised that Samuel hadn’t quite grasped the idea behind Broccoli. As you can hopefully see, very little ended in his mouth, he even managed to get some in his eye!

After lunch we had a ninety minute wait for desert as we needed the power back on to heat our Christmas pudding (steaming would have taken much longer we realised too late). We then enjoyed an evening of games, chatting and eating various desserts; we had a choice of Christmas pudding, Banoffee pie and mincemeat pie plus a selection of cookies, mince pies and other nibbles. Then at 8.45pm came the moment we’d all been waiting for. Unfortunately it couldn’t be found anywhere online to view it live, but we were able to listen live to the Queen’s speech. A few more games and trips to the pudding collection brought our first Christmas as a family to a close.