Finding calmness in the center of devastation

Tundikhel, an only vast open space in between the city, is now filled with families who lost their homes in the recent earthquake. As we drive, walk or ride pass through the lanes alongside Tundikhel, we can see numerous tents – some donated by China and some made locally by the sufferers. When OLE Nepal team visited the ‘refugee camp like place’ it was heart wrenching to see people in need of necessities required for survival. Many organizations from various backgrounds provided immediate relief effort, such as food, water, shelter, sanitation, etc.

Amidst all the chaos, we at OLE Nepal are particularly concerned about the welfare of thousands of children who have been affected in more ways than one – distressed, displaced and completely traumatized by the scenes of devastations all around them. As we try to rehabilitate communities, it is utterly important to pay special attention to the emotional and physical well-being of these children. Along with their physical safety, their psychological security needed to be duly addressed as well.

With so many schools destroyed, and communities displaced, many children are deprived of education and will be for months, if not years. In this critical time, it is important to give children the space where they can enjoy their time in quality learning and exploring.

Like our previous relief efforts in Kirtipur, Khokana and Bungamati, OLE Nepal is now providing relief to the children at Tundikhel. Following are the photos taken during the first day of our relief effort.

Woman washing her clothes in a unbearable heat.
Woman washing her clothes in an unbearable heat.

A child playing around his tent.
A child playing around his tent.

CFS
Child Friendly Space at Tundikhel.

Children singing their hearts out.
Children singing their hearts out.

Expressing themselves through art.
Expressing themselves through art.

Kids busy in various activities.
Kids busy in various activities.

Learning through a new tool.
Learning through a new tool.

Peter helping out kids in using the laptop.
Peter helping out kids in using the XO Laptops.

Focused and deligent
Focused and diligent.

Many kids showed up.
Many kids showed up at the center.

Working in groups.
Working in groups.

Enjoying the moment.
Enjoying the moment.

Continuing our fruitful effort @ Kirtipur

OLE Nepal’s Earthquake Relief Effort has been sprouting positive results in both Child Friendly Spaces of Kirtipur and Khokana/Bungamati. Our volunteers has been traveling everyday to provide relief for children by engaging them in interactive activities from our education tool. Following are some photos taken during one of the sessions at Kirtipur.

kids
Smiling for the camera.

kids
“I like parts of plants activities of E-Paath.”

kids
Kids exploring different activities on their laptop.

creating her own artwork
Creating her own art.

i love e-paath
“I love E-Paath.”

playful
Covered hall at this CFS allows students to let themselves free.

kids
Kids definitely got some refreshment after using the laptops.

we love watermelons
We love watermelon.

group picture with kids
Group picture with kids at CFS in Navajyoti.

group picture
Group picture with kids at CFS in Janasewa.

Relief efforts at Khokana and Bungamati

Last week, our team members had visited Khokana and Bungamati areas to observe the situation of the people, particularly of the children. After understanding the critical environment of the area, our team decided to carry on the relief effort to help children engage in learning. OLE Nepal in collaboration with Loo Niva Child Concern Group is taking forward the relief effort at their child Friendly Spaces (CFS). Volunteers from OLE Nepal and Loo Niva oversees the session and helps children invest good time in learning.

Following are the photos taken during the sessions:

orientation
OLE Nepal team members providing orientation to volunteers from Loo Niva on using the XO laptop.

children playing around
Many children from near by area come to this CFS during the day.

children waiting
Children eagerly waiting for their laptop session.

Children on XOs
They seem more comfortable on the floor while exploring what’s in the laptop.

Peter coaching children on using the laptops.
Peter coaching children on using the laptops.

busy in laptops
Investing their time in quality learning.

happy faces
Happy faces 😀

focused
Learning in groups.

child friendly spaces
Children having fun time at the CFS. Teachers and volunteers are actively involved in engaging children in many interactive activities.

Learn more about Loo Niva here

Bringing smiles in innocent faces

Sabita and Sawal started setting up the laptops and slowly passed each one around. All the children in the room seemed very excited and happy to see the green tool placed in front of them. And that was exactly what we wanted – to see them children smile and enjoy their time amidst the fearful situation.

They sat in a group of three and started trying out different activities and lessons from E-paath. Children are unsure when their schools will resume but these sessions definitely help them spend their time in quality learning. OLE Nepal is conducting these relief efforts in different places. Following photo series show kids involved in exploring the educational tool at Kirtipur. We are available in two centers of Kirtipur; Navajyoti Primary School and Janasewa Higher Secondary School between 11 to 3.

School premises
Navajyoti School is one of the centers where we are conducting our relief efforts for kids.

Sabita and Sawal
Volunteers Sabita and Sawal setting up the laptops.

sabita helping kids
Sabita helping little girls navigate the mouse around the screen.

progress and Brosen
Progress Maharjan helping his brother Brosen Dongol learn lessons of grade two. Brosen will soon be enrolled in two and these sessions will give him an idea about the lessons he will soon be studying in school 🙂

brother and sister
Sisters babysitting their small brothers.
Aastha and Kaushiki exploring the interactive learning materials with their brothers.

little ones
We feel good to see them investing their time in quality learning.

group photo
Time for some group photo. We had kids from different age groups and they were very talented.

teacher e-paath
A volunteer teacher at the session who is actively helping to run the program. We also passed a package of E-paath to the teacher so that he can use this interactive activities in his class.

passing through the rubbles
Passing through the rubbles to reach our next destination – Janasewa Higher Secondary School. Most of the old houses in Kirtipur has collapsed due to earthquake.

collapsed houses
Many houses were destroyed leaving countless people homeless.

tilted house
Dangerously tilted house in the alley of Kirtipur.

destruction
A town in Kirtipur had many old and culturally rich houses which now is not suitable for habitation.

camps
Many of the families are living in tents and are still not sure how long they will be there. With monsoon approaching soon, they are worried about their permanent shelter.

janasewa HSS
Child friendly space at Janasewa Higher Secondary School had majority of children coming in during the day. We had divided our sessions into two, so that children can make maximum use of the educational tool.

girls in laptops
Learning never stops.

learning never stops
Learning helps children forget what they experienced and motivates them to look forward to new things.

A fascinating case of Surya Joshi

I could not understand him speaking but he got me. Nonetheless, I spent ten days with him. During those days, we did many things together, like playing, joking around and learning together, which was a funny struggle as I could hardly understand him. Surya is one of the five sons of Dharma Raj Joshi, who is the principal of Bhawaneshwori Primary School. It was not a surprise that he studied in same school. He was childish, naughty, talented and super confident all at the same time. However, he was a brilliant student, both in terms of his studies and in using XO laptops. During our volunteering phase at Bhawaneshwori school, we had stayed at Dharma sir’s house. This was a time when I got a chance to know him in his vicinity; his nature, his studies and his learning habits.

Surya Joshi

Surya is nine, studies at class four and is the first boy among his fellow students. He has always been first since pre-primary. It had only been a week since his first encounter with XO laptop but his skill and cleverness helped him get the idea on using the tool very quickly. It was natural for students to grasp the knowledge on their own pace; some were able to get it soon and for others, it took sometime. In addition to being good at using his new educational tool, Surya was also equally motivated towards extra curricular activities, such as music, games, etc. In my observation, other students were quite passive in compare to his activeness and interest towards learning new things.

Teachers had not yet taught students on using E-Pustakalaya. Like other students, Surya also was not   much aware about it. We volunteers travelled to another school after spending ten days at Surya’s house. In our return, we were stunned to see Surya excitedly and skillfully using the digital library. This boy was actually very smart and grasped things very quickly. He was very good at playing audio and video, opening and zooming books, downloading and reading, using activities like recording, music, games and many other contents of E-pustakalaya. Seeing his enthusiasm, and his learning habits, I can say that he can learn new ideas from regular computers as well. These types of students are rare in Bajhang.

His father plans to send Surya to Attariya after the completion of his grade four. It gave Surya a great pleasure to know that his eldest brother living in Attariya owns a laptop. There, Surya will learn all basic knowledge about computer and its benefits. Surya’s father also plans to buy him a personal laptop so that his children knows basic knowledge about computer. If his father is able to fulfill this dream, Surya will definitely upgrade his knowledge from mini educational laptops to big laptops. His father’s main goal for him is to continue exploring laptops even after passing out from grade five. Surya’s father really wishes his son could continue his further studies in equally good school where he can get the extra knowledge about computers.

Surya exploring this XO laptop with much enthusiasm

Surya exploring this XO laptop with much enthusiasm

Surya had never seen laptop or computer before. He had only used simple mobile devices since his family owns a mobile gallery in Attariya. His first experience with computers is with XO. Now, within a very small period of time, he and his family broadened their perspective about study and lifestyle. They begin to feel that computer is essential in today’s life. “With the help of computer, Surya will be a successful person in future,” his father expressed his happiness.

Our duties teaches us more than what we expect!

The afternoon of January 18, saw me and Peter seated in a Buddha Air Flight to Dhangadhi. Our final destination was Chainpur, Bajhang. We had to deploy XO laptops and E-Pustakalaya server in 4 schools and subsequently, provide support to the schools. Since we were there primarily for support, I would be talking solely about it on my blog. But for a good read, I encourage you to read Bishnu dai’s blog to know about deployment elsewhere on this site

The first school we went to was Bhawani Primary School Luyanta. Considering its distance to Chainpur (headquarter of Bajhang) the walk to this school had been relatively easy. However, given our lack of physical works over the past few months, we felt tired very easily. Few minutes of rest became obligatory in between our hikes. First day of our two-day visit was dedicated for teachers. We started off by iterating important points, such as basic networking, registering the XOs with the server, and the basics of XO and E-Paath. Since these had already been covered in the basic training, we decided to focus more on other significant things. We talked about E-Pustakalaya, highlighting its features and navigating through them. It was around 1:30 pm when we were done with the session. We could not resist but run right for our lunch.

Oh I was so hungry!!

Later that day, we mainly talked about common problems regarding XOs, such as malfunctioning keys, display problems, XOs running slower than usual, and how to solve the problems. After explaining the remedial verbally, we conducted hands-on sessions for them to try it out. It was a fruitful day ovefinrall.

After our breakfast next day, we headed out to school. Like yesterday, we were resting when Mrs. Anita Sharma, one of the teachers approached us reporting some problem she had encountered. We were glad to see teachers following up on the training sessions, which clearly indicated their interest and dedication towards the program. As I was resolving the issue, students gathered around. They were flooding me with questions about the XO. I could clearly see the spark of desperation and excitement in their eyes to use the computer. Unable to hold our patience, we cut short our resting period and then began teaching the students. Since they were completely new to the XOs, we had to start with the basics like opening the lid of the XO, switching it on, using the touch pad, opening and closing applications, etc. During this time, I was continuously amazed to see how quickly they caught up. Furthermore, it was more pleasing to see them trying to new things, exploring more and more.

Once done with the session for students, we went on to fill the baseline survey form. Prior to this, we had not studied the form in detail and were not aware about the length of it. Contrary to our assumption, it took us nearly an hour and a half to fill them. We had to make series of calculation to find the average of class attendance and examination results. Performing the calculations was not difficult but time consuming. Fortunately, we also managed to meet with the chairperson of the school management committee. We informed him about the program and its potential benefits in improving student’s learning experiences. He was very positive about the program and assured that he would do his best to take the program further.

Bal Bikas Primary School located in Khetkot was our next destination. The travel to the school was challenging because we had to walk for about two and half hours along the narrow and uphill paths. Also, the heavy weight of our bags added to our woes. Nevertheless, we managed to reach our destination without any problems. Immediately after reaching the school, we had our lunch. It greatly helped us overcome our fatigue and energized us for the day. The works that we had to do in all the schools was roughly the same, and as in Bhawani, the session at Bal Bikas also went smoothly. Since Chainpur was far from this school, we decided to stay there that night to prevent unnecessary time loss. To ensure that everything goes well, some teachers also stayed with us. Besides giving us company, they used this as an opportunity to learn more about the XO and its usage. The stay in the school also gave us an opportunity to closely interact with the teachers and learn more about Bajhang.

After two nights stay, we headed for Durga Primary School, Galechaur. In terms of distance & location, it was the farthest of the schools we went. But since we were going from Bal Bikas, we had to walk for about 45 minutes only. Although the journey was relatively short, walking along the slippery path was tough. Small amounts of water flowing alongside had frozen, causing slippery pathways where our feet had slid many times. However, on reaching the school we experienced some delightful sight. Unlike the previous schools, this school had resumed after the winter vacation. Thus, we got a chance to teach more number of students. We began the training for the teachers. But unlike the previous times where both I and Peter conducted the sessions, this time only one person took charge of the training. Meanwhile, the other person would go to the classes and interact with the students. For the next day, the number of students we were teaching increased in number. We simply decided to divide them into two separate groups. Although it took us more time, we were glad that more number of students had got first-hand experience of using the XOs.

Our next and final school was Jana Jagriti Primary School, Bhandar where carrying out the duties was quite easy. Thanks to the lower number of students and their abilities to grasp things quickly. At Jana Jagriti, we stayed in Gorakh sir’s place, one of the school teachers. It was around 3:30 when we were done with our work and at that very moment, both of our feelings were jumbled up. We were glad that the support visit had completed smoothly, but on the other hand, we were sad that our chance to travel and learn came to an end.

For me, the visit was a great learning experience. Personally speaking, the time I spent at Bajhang helped me get a close understanding of the district and its lifestyle. Professionally, the visit greatly enhanced my leadership qualities. Since there were not any senior members at the field, I and Peter had to carry out the entire program. This taught me various lessons on effective planning and proper communication. As an ardent traveler and someone who believes technology as an agent of change in Nepal, I do look forward to being part of similar visits in the near future.

Solukhumbu Visit: photo series

When the Phaplu airport finally opened after a year-long closure for repair, our team immediately planned a visit to five of our program schools in Solukhumbu last November. We were glad to find the schools and the teachers remain ever enthusiastic about using laptops in classrooms. Our team provided essential technical support at Dudhkunda Lower Secondary School, JanaJagriti Lower Secondary School, Garma Lower Secondary School, Swarnim Primary School and Pike Secondary School. Most of the laptops were in good working condition, and few technical issues were resolved during the visit. Please check out the photo series captured during our trip to Solukhumbu with our Network and System Engineer Mr. Sumit Acharya.

Kids from Dudhkunda Lower Secondary School. OLE Nepal started its Laptop program in this school in 2012.

Mr. Sumit Acharya, our Network and System Engineer helping a school teacher updating E-Paati laptops with the latest content.

3

Kindergarten and First grade students of Dudhkunda School. The two teachers take care of those students in the same classroom. Kindergarten kids sit in the left hand side of the room while first graders sit on the right hand side.

Fourth grade students from Janajagriti Lower Secondary school using E-Paati laptops.. The school has a room dedicated for the laptops. There are custom-made wooden racks for laptop storage and charging. They use the laptop once a week for each class.

Teacher helping the students.

Kids enjoying their time outside of the classroom.

Kids from Swarnim Primary School using apricot seeds to learn arithmetic. Their teacher uses different interactive techniques to teach maths to primary level students. This is one of the schools where Government of Nepal is piloting an educational initiative that involves using activity-based milestones rather than regular exams to upgrade students to next grade.

A staff from Phaplu Community School cleaning laptops. Her one kid also attends the same school. She told us that since it is dusty and windy there, laptops need to be cleaned regularly. This is the first school in Solukhumbu district where OLE Nepal started its program. In this school, there is a laptop assigned for each kid, which they can also take home during weekends.

A little boy from Garma Secondary School marching with Khata to offer to OLE Nepal staff. The school had organized a program to welcome us 🙂

A second grade student who has not used E-Paati yet as OLE Nepal has not been able to reach to her school. It is our mission to reach every possible school in Nepal.