We are back from our trek to Solu Khumbu/Okhaldunga region and spent two days at Kophu village on the 9th and 10th February. Kophu is a beautiful little village on the side of a hill overlooking the Solu River.
We had views of the school as we walked down to the village. The new classrooms are to the right of the school yard. There are about 300 children attending the school and students walk to Kophu school from all of the surrounding villages. We arrived on the afternoon on the 9th in the rain but we went down to the school for a tour. There were men working on the new classrooms and a female porter carrying the rocks a short distance. It was very exciting to see the actual building of the classrooms and the builders are nearly ready to start on the roof. They have said the classrooms will be finished by mid April for when I take my mum back to the village for a visit.
The old classrooms are very basic and dark and the blackboards are pieces of timber nailed together and painted black. There is also a very small library that NAFA have previously contributed to. With the extra funds raised we have decided to purchase 7 skylights for the existing classrooms, 10 whiteboards for all the classrooms and also “Room to Read” books to extend the library for the students. (Three other schools in the Solu area have applied to NAFA for “Room to Read” books and these applications may becovered by the extra funds as well.) We met all the Teachers and gave them the final instalment to go towards the building of the classrooms. The morning of the 10th we set up the jumpers ready for distribution and put up the posters on the classroom doors so the students could read how the money was raised for the new classrooms. They were very interested in these posters and in Australia. Most students can speak some English so it was fun to talk to them about how the money was raised. (There was a joke going that new born babies in the village would be named ‘Kylie’ J) The welcome by the students and teachers of Kophu was definitely the highlight. We were given so many katas and flowers by the students. This was very special for all of us.
We gave out jumpers to most of the students and once we ran out of jumpers we gave beanies. These jumpers and beanies were knitted by over 100 women in the NAFA knitters club in Australia. The colours and patterns of the jumpers and beanies were just amazing. I also gave each student a shell on a string that they could tie round their neck. (Thanks Taylor and Darcie for collecting these shells for me J) The students loved the jumpers, beanies and shells. The school had put together a program for us where the students danced and sang. We also had the unveiling of the sign by Rod (president of NAFA) and I cut the ribbon to officially open the new classrooms. We had speeches (Phurba, our wonderful guide, translated for us) and the school presented all of us and NAFA with a certificate of appreciation. It was a very memorable day and definitely made the hard slog up and down Mt Cooroora worth it. The villagers, teachers and the students are very very happy and so appreciative for the contribution by NAFA and NAFA supporters to their school.
Before we left for the day, Deb (Vice-Secretary) and Brenda (Vice-President) spent some time in the nursery classroom drawing with the children. They all drew a picture and then we hung their drawings up on a string in the middle of the room. The little ones are so cute…. but then all nepali kids are cute! That night we gate crashed a wedding party that was going on at one of the local homes and we danced with the locals. This was the perfect way to end such an amazing day! The morning of the 11th we packed up and said our goodbyes. I was very sad to leave the village as we had such a wonderful time and we were made to feel so welcome. I am really looking forward to returning in April with my Mum and seeing the finished classrooms.