The Power of an Idea

Day 15 October 17th 2014
Lumbini, Nepal

It’s amazing how much power an idea can have. Metteyya took us on a village walk this morning of the village between the Karuna Girls College and the Metta school (kindergarden to grade 8). During the walk we met villagers and saw where they lived which depending on your class could be in a straw hit next to the animals or in a modest sized house. Children greeted us with the sound of little Namaste’s and elders smiled with their souls. One woman gave Cornelia a brief weaving demonstration which was so cool. We also got to see three villagers separating rice from its husk. It was a blessing to have been given the opportunity to actually see the real Nepal.

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The Nun’s and Rockey were cutting up ingredients for lunch later.

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Villagers separating rice from it’s husk.

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Metteyya talking to a local Sadhu (holly man).

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The circular clumps on the side of the wall are manure paddies. They are stuck to the side of the walls of homes to dry out. Once dry they are used as fuel.

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Pumpkins growing along the walls.

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Can you see the goat on the top of this home?

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The most remarkable part of the journey was when we got to the Metta school. Walking around the school it didn’t seem like much, 10 or so classrooms with a small courtyard but the remarkable thing was that this tiny facility educates more than 600 students. All of whom would not have the opportunity to be educated if not for the Metteyya’s idea of getting the school started.

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Children were playing cricket in the courtyard of the Metta school when we arrived.

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Namaste! 

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Under a mango tree, Metteyya told us of the story of how the Karuna Girls College and nunnery came to be. He fundraised with local villagers and international groups to first open the Metta school. On the day it opened (at that time classes were held under the mango tree as fundraising was still scarce) he imagined everyone would show up clean and ready for school. He realized this was not the case; some children came with no pants on, others with dirty finger nails and hadn’t been washed in a while. This was not appropriate for school so the first class that day was focused on hygiene. He quickly realized that the children had little to do with the hygiene of their younger siblings and that he had to educate the parents on this topic.

He held a parent gathering shortly after to give them some education on proper hygiene and nutrition. Sadly he found only men showed up to the meeting and none of them where responsible for neither hygiene nor nutrition in the household. Women in the village at the time did not go to public gatherings. With a lot of convincing, Metteyya managed to get the village women to a meeting and began to teach them basic hygiene and nutritional principals. Doing so he really got struck with the fact that these women had never been educated and had no one to go to to ask questions about female health issues, proper nutrition and so on. This is where the idea of the Karuna Girls College started.

He brought the community together to institute a pre mothering school to prepare young women for their duties of motherhood. As the school manifested into actuality, the idea of grooming young women (ages 12 and up) for a life decision they have no say in was not solving anything. Instead, the girls college became a place to educate and empower the women of tomorrow in this village and those surrounding it. The future hope for these girls is that some will hold roles in the federal government of Nepal. Hopefully, coming from such humble upbringings will allow them to make the best decision of where government funds can be allocated as they have lived in one of the poorest parts of Nepal and know what services are lacking. I think this is such an inspiring story and I’m amazed that with just an idea amazing things can happen.

After the village walk the girls’ college held an awards ceremony to honour the grade 11 class starting this year and giving recognition to those students who excelled academically last year. The whole thing was very exciting and we had front row seats, literally we were on the stage giving out gifts and getting tilaka’s (blessings on our foreheads which are made of rice, yogurt and red dyes).

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The afternoon was spent resting and packing as we leave for India tomorrow!

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