A Grade Seven Class in Surrey BC Helps a School in Nepal Get Its First Library

Baira Mahadev Elementary School is located in the scenic village of Lapsephedi in Shankarapur municipality, near Kathmandu. Poor road infrastructure means long walks for many students to reach the school. Lapsephedi is a small community of about 5,000 people most of whom are historically marginalized subsistence farmers who barely survive on less than the equivalent of $2 dollars a day earned through manual labour. Baira Mahadev Elementary currently has 105 students, ranging from 4 to 14 years old. It sustained major damage due to the massive earthquakes and landslides that hit central Nepal in 2015. Already in a very poor condition and without any sustainable source of funding, it was struggling to get back on its feet after the disaster.

The principal of the school, Mr Raghab Jha, approached the NLF for assistance in developing a school library which could be accessed by the community at large. Dhan Kumar Shrestha of the NLF Kathmandhu office met with school officials and community members to develop a plan of action and NLF Canada started to source funds to assist in its implementation.A long term goal of the NLF is to connect schools in Nepal with schools in Canada. A fortuitous meeting of NLF Canada supporter Bhaba Regmi, with her son’s Grade 7 teacher, Ms Leanne Villeneuve, of Berkshire Park Elementary School in Surrey BC resulted in a collaboration of her class with teachers in Baira Mahadev School in Nepal. Ms Villeneuve, who has visited Nepal, saw this as an opportunity for her students to gain insight into the very different conditions of children living in Lapsephedi. 

Students in Ms Villeneuve’s class engaged in fundraising activities raising over $900 through a variety of creative ventures.

In July 2019 Ms Regmi, accompanied by her two sons, travelled to Baira Mahadev School with four large suitcases full of books donated by the Vancouver Public library, and assorted educational supplies. During her visit the NLF Nepal team worked alongside the school staff installing networked computers connected to an ePustakalaya digital library server as well as cataloguing and putting in place over 700 books in the newly created library. As well the NLF team provided training to teachers in the use of the library as a teaching and learning tool as school libraries are a rarity in Nepal. Students are allocated class library time and teachers are able to use the networked projector and printer which was purchased using the contribution from Ms Villeneuve’s class. 

The library is open to the community during school hours. The head teacher is arranging for training sessions in the school making good use of the printer and projector. Recently, the school ran teachers training for multi-grade multi-level class and conducted training for girls (grade 5 - 8) on sexual and reproductive health especially around menstruation, a traditionally taboo subject that can lead to hardship for women of child bearing age in Nepal. The head teacher has plans to run a computer training session for youth. The library and equipment are already making a noticeable impact on teaching and learning in the school and community. 

Primary funding for the project was provided by the Richmond Pentecostal Society Child Care Society and NLF Canada.