In February 2019, representatives from Dubai College visited Nepal to see our work first-hand. Rupal Shah reflected on their experience visiting some of the most rural communities in Nepal and the power of global partnerships to impact lives worldwide. 

"Nepal: kindness, hospitality, resilience. We were never strangers on this visit."

Travelling to Nepal in February was a culmination of many years of ideas and optimism. Dubai College is a long established, not-for-profit, British secondary school in the UAE and we have always wanted to support our own charity school abroad; United World Schools has helped to make that dream a reality. 

We visited 5 schools on our short visit to the Sankuwasabha region, landing in Tumlingtar. The scenic 25 minute flight from Kathmandu, in a tiny plane, afforded us views of the entire Himalayan range, with a guest appearance by Mount Everest. And then, back on terra firma in Tumlingtar, Makalu could be spied in the distance. A very lucky morning already!

Journeying to the Unreached

‘Teach the Unreached’: UWS’ motto didn’t quite make sense until I actually witnessed the remoteness of the region. We were so far from the narrow, chaotic streets of Kathmandu and were instead impressed upon by miles upon miles of rolling rice terraces. Sometimes even our 4x4 struggled to navigate the crumbling roads, which were often still being built as we drove over them. And that’s what makes UWS schools so prominent in Nepal: by building schools at the bottom of a valley like UWS Kalleri or at the top of a mountain like UWS Mude, the charity are providing a real opportunity to students who would otherwise be forgotten. 

Learning through play

Lego, Lego, Lego! If there was anything I wish I could have filled my suitcase with entirely, Lego would be it! At every school on our trip, Lego bricks were the key in overcoming language and age barriers. With all of the KG classes we visited, the initial formalities quickly dissipated and then there was nothing to do but to sit cross-legged and simply PLAY. My favourite moment of the entire trip was at UWS Kalleri: It was a real pleasure to sit in on a KG lesson as the teacher revised the English alphabet, in a beautifully decorated classroom. We left the squeals of delight and singing from that class to move next door, where Grade 1 practiced meditation. The creativity and attention to detail within these classrooms, as well as the genuine love of learning from the students, highlighted to me the importance of schooling for these students.

Working in partnership with local communities

UWS schools support a whole community: We were fortunate to be a part of a community meeting at UWS Hurpa, where the consensus was of absolute praise for the school. This forum, led by Surya – in-country manager – was also an opportunity to explore some of the real life issues facing these Nepalese communities – a reluctance to attend school regularly, early child marriage and the true value of education.Thus, the UWS school model makes a genuine impact on families, communities and generations to come, breaking the cycle of poverty.

Nepal: kindness, hospitality, resilience. We were never strangers on this visit, with constant welcomes with fresh garlands, endless cups of masala tea and even an invite to UWS Mude’s annual picnic. I am in awe of the incredible commitment to education by the teachers, UWS Fellows, Educational Support Officers like Akshok, and the in-country team. The work that UWS do is invaluable. I look forward to beginning the next step in this exciting collaboration with UWS and Dubai College.

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