Where is Naudanda?
Look to the middle of Nepal and you will find the city of Pokhara. Naudanda, being the tiny village it is, isn't on the map. It is 23 km (45 minutes) outside of Pokhara, up on top of a ridge that overlooks the Annapurna mountain range. Beautiful!
What does Dalit mean?
Naudanda consists predominatly of Dalit families. Dalit is a term that means repressed/downtrodden and is in common usage in both Nepal and India. In Naudanda the caste system is rife. Other higher castes exploit Dalits, they are considered contaminated (e.g. at most tea shops in the village the Dalit people have to wash their cup after finishing their tea and can't enter areas where food is prepared). The Dalit are known by their family (last) name, which also dictates what jobs they can or cannot do. All of the sponsored children are Dalit.
Why are there so many Pariyar family names?
Pariyar is the caste name of most of the families that are sponsored. It means Tailor. It is also a name that the family can never get rid of. The caste system is supposed to be illegal, but it will take generations for the stereotype to work its way out of normal life in Nepal and India.
Why isn't my sponsored child in boarding school?
If your child is attending one of the Government schools, it will take a couple of years of a better education to get your child up to the standard of the boarding school. As shocking as it sounds, the pass mark in the government schools is only 32%. Where as the boarding schools is a whopping 40%. It is not reasonable for the children to move to a better school, only to fail. When they are ready they will be moved into the boarding school closest to them.
What is so horrible about the government school in Naudanda?
The government school in Naudanda only goes to grade 5. After that the next school charges a fee, which most low caste families can't afford. Peter is also a retired elementary school principle and has gone to investigate the surrounding schools and has deemed the government school in Naudanda as unacceptable. But keep in mind that this is a starting education for the child, who then hopefully can move on to a better school.
What is the Parni Kota?
'Parni' in Nepali means both to read and study, and 'kota' means room. All of the kids go to Peters' house each school day to do their homework. Most of the children come from homes where there is no literacy or electricity. Hence the need for them to do their homework at Peters home where there is literate supervision and support. Peter employs four tutors all of whom are Dalit. There is a growing amount of books, toys, and educational activities. As donations come in from abroad the supplies for the Parni Kota increase. At the moment there are also 2 working laptops that are used. Some child sponsorship money goes to the Parni Kota, as well as individual donations.
What do my fees include?
Our kids are in a private school or a good Government school. The private school costs are about $200 (canadian) per year. This escalates in latter years to about $300 as additional fees (e.g. Computer, science lab etc. are charged as well as increased per month fees), it also covers monthly fees, exam fees, the initial admission fee and a deposit.
Uniform costs are about $40-50 which includes tailor made uniforms, school bag, raincoat or umbrella, jumper (sweater), socks, shoes, belt, tie, hat, and gloves. The girls get stockings and hair ribbons. Stationary and text books cost about $20-40 depending on the school year level, this too escalates as the year levels increase.
The Government School costs are between $100-250, once again depending on school year level. This includes an annual admission fee, exam fees, and excursions.
Stationary and text books cost between $40-50. The upper limit here includes a calculator. The Government school provides additional out-of-school coaching for kids in classes 6-10 twice a year in the run up to exams, this costs around $20.
The Parni Kota, photos, and end of year picnic cost is about $50.