Monday, 24 December 2012

A Christmas tale


Have you ever given blood in England? If you have then you will know it’s a very well organised affair as you donate your blood that you hope will benefit an anonymous receiver at some point in the near future.
Giving blood in Nepal is a different experience.

A good friend of ours has been expecting a baby and was due to have the baby at a hospital here. They needed to arrange their own blood donors to have on standby in case of an emergency. Dan, having the universal blood, offered to be a donor. Well it got to last Thursday and there was no baby so the hospital induced. They told our friends that rather than having the donors on standby they now needed the blood on standby.

So on Thursday evening, after the KISC Christmas Carol service Dan and another lady headed up to the hospital to give blood. On arriving at the hospital we discovered that we didn’t give blood there, but at the blood bank, a 5 minute taxi ride away. So we jumped back in a taxi and headed on up. The taxi driver that took us told us it would take a couple of hours at the bank; it was obviously a not uncommon route for the drivers who wait outside the hospital.


On arriving at the blood bank we handed over our sample of the mother’s blood we had brought in a cold box so that our blood could be checked to be a match. We were taken into the room where we would donate. Having been here for 5 years I didn’t blink, but thinking about it afterwards, if you had come straight from a hospital/blood bank in the UK you would probably notice many differences. The chairs you laid in to give blood where looking old and the coverings were starting to come lose. One of them had lost an arm. The room wasn’t dirty, but it also wasn’t "NHS" clean. The scales for putting the blood bags in had more in common with my kitchen scales than you would expect.  There was a big cardboard box in the middle of the room for trash, filled with used cotton wool and empty juice boxes.

The blood bank people then got quite funny about using my blood as she wasn’t a direct match. The other lady was, so gave her blood and then they agreed I could give my blood and they would give us the one(!) direct match they had in the fridge in exchange for my blood. So up I got onto the seat in went the needle and the blood was given. My reward, a juice box!

We then sat and chatted for nearly an hour while we waited for them to carry out all the checks on the blood (HIV etc) before paying (yes paying) about £10 for the privilege. The two bags of blood then went in the cool box and we went to find a taxi to take us back to the hospital. We dropped off the blood with the nurses and headed home as by this time the baby was well on it’s way; we found out afterwards it was born within minutes of us being there.

Thankfully baby Benjamin came without major trial in the end and the blood was not needed. We were told the blood could be taken back to the blood bank for a partial refund.

We got to meet Benjamin on Saturday afternoon when we dropped round some dinner for the family. Here is Dan holding him at about 40 hours old.

So a Nepal born Christmas baby for our friends. A baby born in a strange location for his family, born in a setting which wasn’t quite picture perfect, but born with parents to love him and support him and visitors who brought gifts. Really though, born into privilege and plenty as he was born to western parents who may have chosen to give up some things to be here, but have so much compared to nearly all that surround them.

Jesus, being God had everything, but he chose to give it all up. He chose to be born as a humble human, in a humble location and to live to serve all of mankind. He chose too, his death, on the cross for all people everywhere, whether born in a Nepali hospital, a British hospital, or born in a shed with the cows.
Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A call to Pray

The bible teaches us to pray continually, in all circumstances. We believe in the power of prayer to bring about change. So we ask that those of you who also believe to join us in prayer.

KISC is starting 40 days of prayer and is asking all members of the community here in Kathmandu and supporters whether near or far to join in. So whether or not you are in Kathmandu or have ever even been you can join in.

The reason for these 40 days of prayer is that KISC for a long time has been working at trying to get a permanent site. There are currently two plots of land right next to our current site that are vacant and for sale. We believe that this is the place for KISC to build its permanent site, the location is perfect, the size of the plots is good. We just need more money! So we are trusting in God to provide and so spending 40 days praying in relay around the world. If you are interested in  finding out more or joining us in prayer, as an individual or church, then follow the link below to KISC's website and sign up on the right hand side.

www.kisc.edu.np/

The second thing we would like to ask prayer for is for our family's health. It is starting to become a bit of a joke, but we have had one illness after another over the past few months. We've had coughs and colds, the kids have both had a course of antibiotics for chest infections, they've also had conjunctivitis and stomach upsets. For the past three months I don't think we have had longer then a week without someone in the family being ill. We are thankful that none of us has had anything more serious wrong with us (a friends daughter ended up with pneumonia when ours had chest infections and had to spend a night in hospital). So we know it could be worse, and are thankful for that, but ask that you pray with us for some good health in the coming months.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Nepali Winter

Wrapped up warm
So this week the cold has really set in. I shouldn't really complain, it is the end of November after all. Nepali winters are very different to English ones - and in many ways a lot better, just the lack of heating makes me forget that!

This year it started to get cold quite early, during the last couple of weeks in October. Normally the temperatures don't drop until mid November. This meant that instead of the normal two week transition from t-shirts to 3 layers (minimum) we had a whole month which was quite nice, a month of cooler weather but not too cold.

So conversation with other Mums this week quickly turned to how to keep children warm on these cold nights. To use a heater or not? Gas or electric? How many layers of clothes and blankets? Hot water bottles? Hats, gloves? This is now our 5th winter here (if you count our first when we arrived half way through, in January 2008) and so we have our tried and tested methods for keeping everyone warm - the kids both wear tights under his PJs, blankets over the side of Mim's cot to give a little extra insulation and blankets underneath us all as well as over us to name a few.

The good things about winters here though are that most days we have clear blue skys with amazing views of the Himalayas. In the sun it is quite warm so we spend some time each day on our flat roof warming ourselves in the sun and enjoying the views. The winter here is also short; so just as you are all wrapping up for another cold month we will be putting our jumpers and thermals away by the end of February. We certainly don't miss the cold grey days of an English winter.

However, all this beautiful sunny weather means it is the dry season and that there will be no significant rain until next monsoon (July) and since all electricity production here is hydroelectirc we are very short on power. We currently have 8  hours of power cuts a day. This is not good so early on in the year, so we worry what the next few months hold power wise. Hopefully it means they are being careful and making sure there is enough power to last us through. The snow melt in Spring should help, but there won't be much relief for some time!

Christmas in Nepal

Obviously the biggest event of the winter for most of us is Christmas. Christmas here is also very different from the UK. Yesterday being December 1st we decided to put up our decorations, but apart from a couple of the big tourist shops we haven't seen anything for Christmas here at all (mostly because people here don't celebrate Christmas). It is nice though to be somewhere without all the hype, all the TV adverts and songs for months on end. We were able to put on our Christmas music without thinking "not this song again." But the nicest thing of all was that we can talk to Sam (and Mim as she gets older) about what we are celebrating at Christmas without all the distractions of new toys and everything else. Sam is enjoying opening his advent calendar each day and hearing the stories from the first Christmas.

So as we begin this Nepali winter and our Christmas season we wanted to wish you all a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Roads, they are A-Changin'

Road works in Nepal, as you can probably imagine, are a different kettle of fish to the West. You will often come along a road to find somebody has dug a hole or trench, for reason that may or may not be evident. Sometimes they will put a leafy branch in the hole so it’s clear for motorists that there is a hole, but there are no cones, and certainly no cone hotline.

Over the last few months however the road works have taken on a whole new level. You see about 25 years ago a law was passed that set the boundaries of the council owned roads, and thus the limit to which people’s properties could extend. However, it was ignored by everyone and people just built the wall of their property a bit further out, claiming a little extra yard/garden space in the process. But many houses were built that stretched over the line.

The Walls come down
Until recently this wasn’t a problem, but then the municipal council for our part of Kathmandu obviously decided that a key solution to the busy traffic problem was to reclaim their road space. And so the road widening has begun. First the numbers appear on the walls. I’ve never seen anyone actually doing this, maybe they do it at night, but when those dreaded red numbers appear, indicating the number of metres to be reclaimed, you know your wall will be going soon. Then notice is given that the wall will be coming down soon. The notice is a sledge hammer through the wall.

At this point most people start building their new wall the required number of metres back from the road. One of the huge benefits of this whole process must be the amount of casual labour work it is providing for many Nepalis who may have been struggling to find work a few months ago. The streets soon look like the set of a World War II drama as they are filled with rubble of walls coming down. Kathmandu is already quite a dry and dusty city and so the air is filled even more with dust. The existing road actually becomes smaller as the rubble piles stretch out into the road.
Drastic redevelopment

Of course for the houses that extended too far it goes to another level, as for many they basically have to take off the front of the house and rebuild the front rooms a few metres smaller than before. The most extreme house we’ve seen is the one in the photo here where a four storey building seems to have lost the front room on every level. There used to be a shop in the ground floor that has now moved next door, but I don’t know what happened to the families that lived above it.

This is not a short process, the first street to be affected is a little way from us, but we think it was a about a year ago they started the process. They finally re-tarmacked a couple of weeks ago. It does look good, and hopefully in the long run will be worth the effort for the city, but it doesn’t half have a big impact. The red numbers have appeared on the road between our house and school. A road which also features a school of a few thousand students who are bussed in on dozens of buses every day. Thankfully there is a back road to school, which I think will become well used by us in the coming months.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A Busy Month


We just realised a month has passed and we haven't updated our blog!

We came to the end of term 1 of this school year at KISC. The term ended on a high with the school production of Pirates of Penzance. They did three performances which went off well. The students worked hard for 8 weeks with several rehearsals every week and it all came together for the "season" at the end of term. By which point they'd all earned a good rest.

Becky's sister Sarah was out for the last week of term and first week of the holidays. We had a great time with her. Becky was particularly appreciative of her help the first week as both Sam and Mim had chest infections and were on antibiotics.

We went to Pokhara with Sarah in the first week of the school holiday for a relaxing break. Becky and Sarah decided to jump of a hill together and go paragliding, which was amazing! Becky has wanted to do this for some time but not been able to when we've been before due to being pregnant or having a baby who was too young to leave. So great to finally get the chance.

It is now the the big Hindu festival of Dashain which is why KISC is on holiday for 3 weeks. Next week are the main days of Dashain so it will all get very quiet as everything closes and many Nepali's in Kathmandu will return home to their villages to be with their families.

Term two then starts at the end of the month and we start the run up to Christmas! KISC is in urgent need of three teachers for various reasons. We need a primary teacher for year 2 as soon as possible. This is URGENT. An existing member of staff is having to cover this as well as their normal job until we can get someone. We also need English and History teachers for the secondary again as soon as possible, but by January at the latest. So as usual pass this information on to anyone you know who is a primary, English or History teacher! If you don't know any then please pray with us that these needs will be met asap!

Monday, 17 September 2012

For your viewing pleasure...



We thought we would use our latest post to share with you some promotional videos that  have been released this week.

These first two are both to do with the work of EQUIP, the teacher training branch of KISC, and two of the ways in which they help rural Nepali schools and pupils.



Donate a KISC Tin Trunk Library in Nepal from Colin Cabalka on Vimeo.


KISC: Send a child to school, change a life from Colin Cabalka on Vimeo.

These following two videos are the first two in a series of eight short films which were produced by a good friend of ours. They show you some of the work that the International Nepal Fellowship (INF) are doing here in Nepal. Obviously this isn't the work we are involved with directly, but a number of the parents of our students at KISC work for INF. They would not be able to continue their work here in Nepal if there wasn't a good school available for their children. So your support of us enables us to work at KISC and KISC enables the parents of our students to continue to play their vital roles at INF which allows the work in these videos to continue. So we're all part of this...

INF Sports Day from International Nepal Fellowship on Vimeo.


INF Client Faces from International Nepal Fellowship on Vimeo.

Keep an eye on the INF website for the rest of the videos as they are released in the coming weeks. Or you can "like" INF on Facebook and see them there.

If you want to know more about the work of INF they have just produced a book called "Light Dawns in Nepal" by Tom Hale (A well known Nepal missionary who has written books about his own experiences such as "Don't let the goats eat the Loquat trees"). This new book is a history of the work of INF in Nepal. A very interesting read. Follow this link to find out where you can get a copy:
http://www.inf.org/news/inf-worldwide/story-inf

Monday, 10 September 2012

Where's home?

Bangladesh, early 80s
I have realised that we have never written a post about TCKs. Despite the fact that I (Becky) am a TCK, that our kids are growing up as TCKs and the reason we are here in Nepal is to work with TCKs.

Some of you may be wondering what is a TCK? Others may have already picked up on it from reading previous news or posts where we have mentioned them. Others of you will be sat there thinking "I know all about TCKs, I am one!"

Any ideas yet? A TCK is a Third Culture Kid. Someone who is growing up in a culture that is not their own.

Children are influenced by their surroundings much more then adults and in a much shorter space of time. So anything over a year or two spent in a place that is not their "home" can have a massive impact on their sense of identity and belonging.

The way being a TCK influences each child is very different. It depends on their situation, their personality and a host of other factors.

So for example I lived abroad for a relatively short period of time as a child (4 years as a pre-schooler in Bangladesh and then 3 years as a teenager in Sri Lanka), but I never lived anywhere longer then 4 years, even when in the UK. So I have got the itchy-feet syndrome; I don't want to settle anywhere and want to keep moving (hence we live in Nepal). I am always looking out for opportunities to move onto something new, always looking to the next thing. Even now we are in Nepal, coming up on 5 years, I'd love to move onto something else! But (don't panic if you are reading this as a member of KISC staff) we feel this is where we should be for the time being and so I have to come to terms with that and find a way to be settled.  I am also rubbish at keeping in touch (so don't take it personally if you don't hear from me often), I am the sort of TCK who says farewell to people from my very transient life and move on, out of sight out of mind!

Growing up in Nepal
Others I know are quite different. My sister for example, despite the fact that we had the same experiences in our very mobile upbringing has done the exact opposite. She was 15 when we moved back to the UK for the last time as children and, apart from her years at university, she still lives in the same area where we settled then. She feels the need to be routed in one place now. She still gets itchy feet to some extent, but is satisfied with regular holidays abroad. She is also the opposite to me with friends and keeping in touch. She always found it harder to transition then me, but is then much better at keeping in touch with old friends after we have left a place.

I think there are pros and cons to both kinds of TCKs. Neither of us would swap our experiences for anything. We both loved our childhood and appreciate the impact it has had on us and the experiences we had, but we also have to come to terms with the way it still affects who we are and the way we live now.

So now Dan (and I, in between having kids!) work in a school which is pretty much full of TCKs who have amazing stories to tell about their lives, who are being shaped by their upbringing here in Nepal and their experiences in a truly international school. Many of them speak multiple languages, have lived all over the world. These kids are our world's future. They are our future diplomats and leaders in organisations such as the UN and the EU. These children will have an amazing and unknowable affect on our world because of the experiences they have had.

Helping with some homework!
However, these children also need lots of support. Every year at KISC we see our student and staff bodies turn over, sometimes by as much as a third. So even those students who have lived here for years are constantly going through transition, saying goodbyes and starting again with new people. It is important they do this well, especially those leaving, as how successfully they leave a place has a big impact on how well they settle into a new place.

For many of our students "home" is where their family is, not a place. So we try and help prepare students to go back to "home" countries that don't feel like home. We do this in lessons by getting them to do projects about their home countries so they know about things such as the politics and geography there as well as other things. But they also need emotional support through the transitions, people they can talk to about their hopes and fears, and also to help them grieve as they say their farewells. A family who left last year got their children to write down what they were looking forward to and what worried them in returning to their "home" country, as well as what they would and wouldn't miss about Nepal. They could then talk about these things and help their children process their feelings about it all.

The TCKs we work with at KISC are some of the most amazing young people we have ever had the privilege of working with. They are having an amazing childhood. But they are also children who deserve the best education we can give them and who need our love and support as we help them through their very abnormal childhoods!

(If you want to know more about TCKs then I would recommend you find something written by Dave Pollack. If you are supporting TCKs or considering moving overseas then "Families on the move" by Marion Knell is a good book.)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Emergency Evacuation


When I was at school the only type of drill we ever did was fire drill.  When the bell rang for a drill  we all had to go outside and line-up on the tennis courts and  we got to miss 20 minutes or more of the lesson messing about in a line while the teacher tried to check we were all there. Until I came to Nepal that was the only drill I ever saw at a school. (Any older readers remember duck & cover?)

Well at KISC we have four different types of health & safety drills. Of course the fire drill, but we also have an earthquake drill, an intruder drill (in case somebody not very nice gets on campus we can lock down) and an Emergency Evacuation. Thankfully in our time at KISC we've never had to do any of the drills for real, however the Emergency Evacuation is the only one that has been done for real during KISC's history.

But what is the emergency evacuation I hear you as?!? The emergency evacuation drill is where we practice getting all the students home, by foot as quickly and as safely as possible, or for those who live too far to walk, to a “safe house”, usually a friend's house nearer the school. We do this in case we suddenly have to close school because a curfew has been called, or a very strict bandh or local protests mean we don't feel it's sensible to keep the school open.

So every secondary teacher and student and primary siblings are allocated a walking group. As the bell rings we all move to our walking groups coloured spot which is painted on the courtyard floor. Once all our students are there we are dismissed by the principal, one group at a time and set off walking home. Thankfully most students at KISC live within a 20 minute walk of the school which means the actual evacuation is relatively short. As we walk the students home we try to avoid the main roads and walk the back streets, as in a real situation the main junctions may be full of protesters, and taking a group of 15-20 students probably wouldn't be the best idea.

We're thankful that we haven't had to use the Emergency Evacuation for several years, since the 2006 revolution. We pray every time we're coming up to an evacuation drill that we'll never have to use it again for real. However, in a country with the political stability of Nepal, an only 7 years out of a civil war it's important to be prepared for that as a fire or an earthquake.

Monday, 13 August 2012

KISC – 25 years


This weekend KISC has celebrated 25 years. 25 years of God’s faithfulness and goodness. 25 years of educating the children of mission workers and supporting much great work that is taking place across Nepal.

Alan and Margaret McIlhenny unveil a painting of KISC's History
The weekend kicked off with a community praise and worship evening, the highlight of which was stories from Alan McIlhenny, the founder of KISC. He shared one story about the starting of KISC, where a few months before the planned start they had just 3 students, a building, but no money and another story about being arrested just 2 weeks after KISC started. Two police officers laden with guns came to KISC to arrest him, but as they didn't have a vehicle Alan drove them both, to 3 different police stations, picking up a couple  more police men at each station before they got to the head police station in Kathmandu. Upon arrival Alan was interviewed by the Chief of Police who asked him many questions about KISC and it's values (bear in mind at the time it was illegal for Nepalis to be Christians). The Chief of Police concluded the questioning by asking if his son could be enrolled.

Year 7 Students performing a dance
Friday started with a whole school assembly in the morning, a key part of which was every class putting an item in a time capsule which will be opened in 25 years at the 50th Anniversary. Items included photos of the classes, profiles on the "Students of 2012", USB stick with photos of the school and current music, a coke bottle and a test tube filled with a strand of each students hair from one class. Each class also brought forward a tree, which we are plan to plant in the future on a permanent site. For now they will remain potted. The significance of the tree is that in the last year KISC has been discussing what we want our students to be like after KISC and the key element we decided was “Oaks of Righteousness” from Isaiah 61. 

This was followed by a Formal programme where guests included a government minister and a couple of government secretaries, the head of the British Council and the British School, the heads of UMN, INF(the Christian NGO’s that helped set up KISC),  ECEC (a key partner in teacher training) and HDCS (KISC’s owners). Histories where told and future visions shared and it was announced that a new agreement has been signed with the Nepali government for KISC to continue to function in Nepal for the next five years. A great answer to prayer after a lot of work with the government from our board.

Fun and Games on Saturday
Friday evening was a talent show, as many students some parents and a few staff got up and performed a variety of acts, ranging from piano solos to a rock band to traditional Nepali dances and a couple of skits. The evening was a lot of fun, and showed off a lot of talent from amongst our students in particular.

Birthday cake!
Then onto Saturday, and the culmination of festivities. Over 200 staff, parents, students and other connected people headed up to a hotel in the hills on the edge of the valley for a fun day that included swimming, games, a birthday cake, anniversary dinner and a final praise and worship service. This being monsoon the rain also played a part and ensured that many of the games where played in downpour, and Sam and his friends had lots of fun splashing in the puddles. However, the rain didn't put a dampener on a fun day.

So 25 years of God’s faithfulness was remembered with a successful 3 days of celebrations. Here's to the next 25 years!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

KISC Celebrations


Just a quick post today to remind you that KISC starts its  25th Anniversary Celebrations today.

The schedule for events is as follows:

Thursday 6-8pm: Evening worship service and weekend kick-off
Friday 8.20-9.20am: Special joint assembly
           10am-12.30 Formal anniversary programme
           6-8pm: Talent show
Saturday 2-8pm: Family fun Day
               4pm Celebration Cake and refreshments
               5.30: Dinner
               6.30-8pm: Worship and Prayers for the future

The picture and quote from Dan is part of a series of 25 that have been appearing on the KISC website over the last 25 weeks in the build up to the event. To see more (although not all 25!) go to www.kisc.edu.np

You can watch some of the events from where you are by the live stream links below:

Anniversary Worship Celebration - www.ustream.tv/channel/kisc25 goes live on Thursday, August 9 at 6:00 PM local Nepali time.

Friday Formal programme, which will be attended by Government ministers and other local dignitaries - www.ustream.tv/channel/kisc25day2/ goes live at AM local Nepali time (although programme won't probably start till nearer 11am). 

Talent Show - www.ustream.tv/channel/kisc-talent-show goes live on Friday, August 10 at 6:00 PM local Nepali time.

We will update again next week to let you all know how it went. But for those that pray then join us as we give thanks to God for his provision for the past 25 years and as we pray and look to the future.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Summer Holidays

I was just looking at the statistics for our blog and the number of viewings have shot up in the past few months. Not sure why! But Welcome to our blog if you are a new reader. And thank you for sticking with us and showing an interest in our work and lives if you've been around for a while!

We feel like the pressure is on now to write more often! Do feel free to engage on here with us - responses to our blog posts or if there are things you want to know more about then let us know. With the comments section on our blog we get quite a few spam messages so we have set it to approve all comments you write. So don't worry if it doesn't appear straight away. We will get an email telling us that you have commented and then we have to go and approve it - then it will appear.

So we are nearly coming to the end of our summer holidays. We have our holidays in July and start back in August just as everyone in England is settling into the middle of your long summer! (Or not very summery as it seems this year!)

As we’ve already written about we have had a whole lot of new staff arrive this summer. So it’s been a busy few months. Before they arrived we were involved in flat hunting, trying to find suitable places for them to live and then lots of emails about what they need and don't need to bring.

Then finally they arrived. So the past month has been a lot of shopping trips, showing people where to buy their groceries, where to buy household things and also some more fun trips such as where are nice places to take your kids - swimming, the zoo, cafes with gardens and playrooms. There is one family who have just been here a week now that have got a "new" house that hasn't been rented before so they have to buy everything! (The other families have moved into flats which were previously rented by expats so have inherited a lot of things). So imagine what you would need to buy moving into a house for the first time when you have virtually nothing. It's like starting at university again - except now you are a family of 4! Pots and Pans, plates, cutlery, hoover, fridge, fans, cot, mop and bucket, iron, etc etc etc... and all in a new country where you don't know how anything works.

 We have also had Dan's parents out for 2 weeks during the holidays. It is their second trip since we have been here, and the first since we have had the kids. They enjoyed taking Sam and Mim to some of their favourite places in Kathmandu and seeing how we spend our days. We were also able to squeeze in some site-seeing and a trip down to Pokhara. As I've said before the kind of relationship Sam and Mim have with their grandparents is very different as they don't see them as often. However, through skype and photos around the house they know who they are and it always surprises me how quickly they are playing and interacting with them, as if they see them all the time. So it has been really great to have 2 weeks when they could spend time together, having fun and sharing in our lives here. So it’s been a busy but enjoyable summer.

KISC starts back tomorrow for the staff and then the students are back (or starting for the first time) on Tuesday next week. KISC celebrates its 25th Anniversary next weekend. So we have three days of activities going on which include a talent show, a family fun day and services of thanksgiving and prayer for the future. A busy but pretty great start to the year! If you’re interested in seeing what is going on then you can “like” KISC on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/KISC1987 or go to their website: http://www.kisc.edu.np/

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Community


Towards the end of last term a KISC family invited their childrens’ teachers around for dinner. So, on a Monday evening 14 KISC teachers piled into the KISC van for the 10 minute journey to this families house.
Teachers and student together
The family are a Korean family and have a son and daughter in Year 8 and 9 respectively. The parents speak very little English but have lived here 14 years and so are fluent in Nepali. Therefore much of the conversation was done by those teachers who speak Nepali or via KISCs Korean teacher and the students themselves.

Before dinner we decided it would be a good idea to be able to say how much we were enjoying the food. So while all the family were in the other room preparing the meal we asked Scarlett, our Korean teacher how to say “delicious”. As the mother walked into the room to tell us food was ready she was greeted with the sight of 14 teachers of various nationalities all attempting to copy the Korean teacher with various degrees of poor pronunciation. At least we could all say it was tasty in Nepali!

Swapping Glasses
We were then greeted with a delicious spread of traditional Korean food, including some kimbob. This was rapidly devoured and second and third helpings encouraged and taken. After eating we all sat around talking in the lounge, with the students, their 3 year old little brother and the parents. Conversation took place in Korean, Nepali, English and French. The students laughed and joked with us teachers. We all took turns in swapping our glasses around, trying to find a teacher who looked at least semi-cool in the daughters striking and very cool white framed glasses. And the 3 year old ran around encouraging and enjoying attention from us all. Proving in fact you don’t need to have language to be able to communicate.

KISC is a real community. And one we love being a part of.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Monsoon


Sunday 24th June

Last Sunday was the official start of monsoon. We could tell monsoon had started because the clouds and the air had changed. But it didn’t actually rain (much) for the first few days. Just minor showers, mostly at night.

Then this weekend Monsoon STARTED. From Friday night till Sunday lunchtime we had regular downpours. Each lasting from half an hour to several hours and depositing more rain onto Kathmandu in 36 hours than we’ve had in the last 6 months (estimate!). Saturday was an in-doors day, but we did venture out this morning to church, with the kids safely cocooned in the buggy with the “monsoon” rain-cover.
Planting in the fields
But while it is a mild in convenience for us, it’s wonderful news for most Nepali’s. Monsoon rains are vital for their crops, as most Nepali’s, are subsistence farmers and rice is their main crop. The rains mean their fields will now flood and they can start planting their rice. 

Of course it’s a delicate balance. Too much rain, especially heavy rain, can damage the rice plants, particularly later in monsoon when the crops will be getting bigger and the heads of rice will start to show. The other main concern with monsoon is landslides. As you’ll be aware, Nepal is far from flat, but every available inch of potential land is farmed, and the hills are full of terraces. Some “fields” will be only a few square metres, but all this man made changes to the land and the deforestation of trees for firewood means that landslides are very common. There are many stories of entire villages being wiped off the side of the hill by landslides during monsoon. 

As so often when people live close to the limit in life there are risks that need to be taken. And for many Nepalis who live close to the survival limit these are risks that need to be taken to ensure that they will be able to eat over the next year.

Sunday 1st July

One week on and things aren’t looking so good. After last weekend’s rain we’ve had a week with hardly any rain at all. After last weekend’s rain many people rushed to plant their rice, as monsoon had been late arriving anyway. But one week on they need more rain. I’ve been out walking through a village this weekend and the fields are looking dry.

Monsoon clouds over the hills. Not evident this week.
They start to grow rice before monsoon and then plant the shoots in the fields as soon as monsoon arrives. But the lack of rain this week means that in some of the fields the shoots are going yellow already. In others the water level is lower than it should be at this stage. The fields need more rain, and soon, otherwise they will all dry out.

If we don’t get more rain soon we could be faced with a massive crop failure and a significant food shortage. Our Nepali friend I was with this weekend was saying it feels like monsoon has passed, a 3 month event shortened to just one weekend? We pray not, but as articulated above. Nepal needs rain. And it needs rain now.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Wedding of the Year


Last Saturday was a day we had been looking forward to with much excitement. It was the wedding day of Simon Hall and Wendy Cornelious. Simon is a BMS volunteer who teaches ICT at KISC. He has been working at KISC since January 2010 and in that time Dan has worked very closely with him as they share the ICT teaching between them. Wendy and Simon meet two years ago a few weeks before Wendy was due to leave to return home to Minnesota in the States. After a year living 8,000 miles apart Wendy returned to Nepal last summer to be the RE teacher at KISC. 

The wedding was a real KISC wedding. They got married in our school hall and had the reception in the courtyard outside. Many of the students helped to decorate the school in preparation and several played roles on the day including ushers and servers. All the staff and secondary students, along with many primary students were invited to the wedding. 4 of the 6 bridesmaids and 4 of the 6 groomsmen work at KISC, and one of the remaining bridesmaids was a KISC parent. The wedding was officiated by the Primary Principal. During the photographs the happy couple posed with each year group in the secondary school. Two separate groups of students performed a song and a dance during the reception.

Simon brings Wendy on the Rickshaw as part of the "Janti"
The wedding was a real international wedding. It started with the “janti”, where the grooms party dance to the brides house to collect her and bring her to the wedding. In reality this involved most of the wedding congregation, a band, and Simon cycling on a rickshaw to bring Wendy back to KISC. All the ladies were wearing their finest Saris, the men were in a mixture of traditional Nepali dress or western suits, many adorned with Topis (traditional Nepali hats). The service started with the groomsmen and bridesmaids entering together American style, including Sam as a pageboy (he got a great reaction). The service was also streamed live on the internet and watched by about 150 people around the world. During the service we sung “Salvation belongs to our God” in Nepali and then English and prayed for the couple Nepali style (all stood up praying out loud at once). The food served was traditional Dhalbhat thakhari (Lentils, rice & vegetable curry), with the trimmings (every bit of chicken in a curry). The Year 11 students performed a Bollywood dance and the bride threw her bouquet to the waiting single ladies.

The wedding was a real witness. The faith of the happy couple was the first thing on the lips of everyone when they talked about them. The speeches contained honest testimonies of the father of the bride, groom and best man. The Christ-like love that Simon and Wendy have for the people of Nepal was evident in the way they planned, conducted and involved people in the wedding, and is regularly evident in the way they live their lives, serving Him here in Nepal.

The next morning Sam said to me “Can we have another wedding at KISC”.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Pray for Nepal


Nepal has been in the news this week due to the tragic events on Mount Everest last weekend. However, the news that hasn’t been reported is the on-going political situation and its impact on the people of Nepal. 
Sunday 27 May is the deadline for the new constitution to be written. Those of you who read our blog regularly will know this is not the first deadline. There have been several extensions since the original deadline at the end of May two years ago and it’s still quite uncertain if a constitution will arrive this weekend. This month has been full of Bandhs.

“Bandh, … a Nepali word meaning 'closed', is a form of protest. [This] often means the closing down of markets of a city for the day, but there have been [many] instances of entire nation coming to a standstill.” – from www.nepalbandh.com

The Bandhs have been on-going in various parts of Nepal for many days. The Terai (southern flat part on the border with India) has been pretty much permanently “closed” for most of the month as various groups have enforced bandhs, some for a dozen or so days. The far-west and far-east have also been subject to strict bandhs as various different political parties and interest groups try to make themselves heard, and their interests accommodated in the constitution.

Since Sunday the entire nation has been “closed”. One particular interest group has been enforcing a very strict bandh which is impacting everyone. Shops and schools are closed. There is no traffic on the streets. Many people’s livelihoods are affected.

How does this affect normal Nepali’s? Well many can’t work. If their livelihood depends on the income from their shop, or their market stall or being able to catch a bus to their place of work they are stuck. As night falls the bandh is lifted and the streets come to life as everyone rushes out to stock up on the necessities. As dawn starts to come in the morning (4.30/5am) people again try to get to the shops or travel to where they need to be for the day. But of course little produce is able to get into the valley because of the bandh and so shops are starting to run low on supplies.

How does this affect us? Well we too are subject to the daily dash for supplies. Thankfully, we are able to be well stocked with food and money (cash machines can’t be replenished), but this isn’t an option for poor Nepali’s. School has been closed today. I have spent half my day making contingency plans for IGCSE and A level exams if this continues. Becky and the kids are stuck with nowhere to go and little to do.

This week sees the culmination of 40 days of prayer forNepal, timed to coincide with the constitution deadline. If you pray, please do pray for Nepal, the political leaders and agitating parties this week. Pray for peace in this country and political stability.

STOP PRESS: As we were about to publish this blog we heard that the Constitutional Assembly, the body charged with writing the constitution have agreed another 3 month extension.