In Canada, where I grew up, there is a saying that parents tell their children when those children are complaining about going to school. The parent will look at the child and say, “You know, when I was a child, I had to walk to school for 1 hour! To and from school in my bare feet and it was up hill both ways! And there was always a snow storm! Even in the summer!”
Up hill both ways, while highly improbable, is a description used by these parents to highlight the effort required for them to access education – this very same education their child is now whining about (the snow and bare feet parts are added for emphasis, and when pressed the parent would agree that okay, fine, maybe there weren’t snow storms in the summer).
A few weeks ago MCC Nepal had the chance to visit one of two partners in the Morang district. The hills in this area put the lazy rolling hills of my (and my parents) home area to shame. The hills in Morang district are what we would have called mountains where I come from, but most certainly in Nepal, these are simply the little sibling of the towering giants of the Himalayan range.
Photo for comparison: on the left – when I googled “rolling hills Ontario” (which is the area I grew up). See those hills? hmmm me neither! On the right – a photo of Nepali hills taken when driving back to Kathmandu Valley from Morang.
It is in steep and gorgeous hills like these, that MCC partner Hilly Rural Development Of Northern Morang is working to improve the quality of education at government schools. They are training teachers in child-friendly teaching techniques, improving school governance and working to make schools a safe and enjoyable place to be. This project started in 2018 and has been having major positive impacts on the children in this area.
The children pictured below are grinning behind their masks because they are pleased to be at school. They are engaged in their learning and enthusiastically greet the head teacher. The warmth and connection between staff and students at this school is palpable. And yes, these amazing kids do walk in those hills for an hour and a half to get to school, and an hour and a half to get home again. Every day, and the younger students as well.
Providing quality education to those living in the rural hills of Morang district can feel like an uphill task. But these amazing kids, their committed teachers, and our partner staff are able to walk this uphill route, maintaining dignity and humour, and if a snow storm were to appear one day… well…. there would likely be a lot of playing in the snow.