The new building stands! School can start soon!
We just received the pictures from Ba Kah – the school building looks great! Stable enough to last the next rainy season and providing enough space for all the kids starting their first year of school now. Together with the kids from the previous class there will be around 40 children attending the school of Ba Kah now.
Celebrations at the new stupa next to the school building.
Stage 1 of the construction
Stage 2 – nearly done!
A lot of hard work for this great result! And our help was barely needed – Nar Was talent to organize and to get things done is once again impressive!!! She manages to foster the energy of the whole village community and bring about change hand in hand with everyone.
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The last raining season hit the old (and admittedly by now also too small) school house hard. The self-built structure is not meant to last many years and the rain took its toll on the impermeability of the roof. And with the growing number of pupils and the need to split classes into three groups starting in June the need for a bigger building is certainly given.
The teacher Nar Wa coordinates the efforts of the villagers who organized, cut and prepared the wood. So far the foundation is in the process of being cast. The school building is supported by monastic donations, the donations of travellers who have reached the villages and read the information at the donation box and our projects. We were also able to bring a choice of new books in Burmese and English to start a school library, poster colours and papers for creativity classes, wooden toys for the smallest kids and maps. At this point we would like to thank everyone again for supporting the school of Ba Kah! Collective efforts win! The children are so happy when interacting with their beloved teacher Nar Wa, it is really special to see and we could never get enough of it!
As teacher Nar Wa is taking care of overseeing the building she is not free to take English classes this break (as we hoped). Of course we were a little disappointed but we see that for now she is the only one who can organize the efforts to sustain the school and finish the building till school start in June. Next month, however, she will participate in a Kindergarten-Training for one week, organized in Kengtung. For her continuing education we have discussed to organize an intense English class in the coming year.
From one village to the other – quite a long day hiking up and down the hills – but what a good time and great views we had!
Flashback: The Story of the School of Ba Kah
Meeting an impressively engaged and idealist teacher in a mountain village in Eastern Shan State is how it all started…
The school is the first school in the area and offers access to education for 39 children from two Lahu Shi villages high up in the Shan mountains.
Reaching the villages takes roundabout 60 minutes by motorbike from Kengtung – in good weather conditions. During the rainy season there is not much of a coming or going…
The funding to set up the school building and provision of school books came from a monk staying at a nearby monastery. But it was not easy finding a teacher, who is willing to live in the village because of these difficult circumstances – until he found Nar Wa. She originally comes from a Lahu village (30 minutes motorbike ride in good weather) and just finished her high school – but is unbelievably devoted to the children and her job. The first months she even worked without salary – now the monk and villagers do their best in gathering some together. As it is not a governmental school the usual provision of school books, curriculum, continued teacher training, a weather-proof building, stable salary for the teacher and other social benefits are lacking.
We admire Nar Wa’s devotion and perseverance. To make her job a little easier we arranged for a school-start-bag that she can give to each child the first day of the new school year as well as two whiteboards and some drawing material.
One of the villages is sometimes visited by tourists, so we want to install an easy and direct option for those who want to give something for the community. We provide a donation box with explanations in five languages. We want to prevent that the children leave the school lesson for candy that visitors bring and offer an alternative way of giving. We also inform the local tour guides of this option so that they will not initiate buying sweets at the market before visiting the village.
Many tourists would like to give, but don’t know how – so with this savings box the whole community can profit and we hope it will work this way.
There remains a lot to do…
We see this as a long-term project and wish to support the communities of both villages in various ways:
- Teacher continued English training during the holidays in April & May 2017
- Extension of the school building to actually fit 39 children
- Assistant teacher (as next year there will be 3 classes already )
- Consulting on & developing of income opportunities to enable parents to support their children themselves