We are delighted to bring you our autumn newsletter. In the spring and summer editions we led with Tanzania and Nepal so here I’d like to start with bringing you up to date on all the great things that are happening in NE India. As many of you know, Mondo has been supporting 12 schools in the Kalimpong and Darjeeling area of West Bengal, since 2004. The schools work together for mutual support, led by our project manager Santa Rai and many wonderful volunteers who regularly visit: together they provide a good quality education to over 2000 pupils in this poor region.
Training the Primary Teachers of the Future
All the Mondo schools in Kalimpong were lucky to receive 3 computers last year from a generous donor. However, we found that many of the computers were left unused or had fallen into disrepair as staff at the school did not know how to maintain them. We have now started a programme to repair the equipment and train teachers with the support of our computer expert Moa who writes:
‘In all the schools I was taken aback by the lack of practical knowledge on computers. I was quite amazed by the will and the thirst to learn.’
Moa has so far worked with 3 schools and has started to extend his support to the next 3, including buying basic equipment to ensure the staff can access the internet. We are seeking funding to extend this project to all our schools. Just £500 per school is enough to fund repairs and parts together with the in-depth training Moa is carrying out over a three week period, which has already shown excellent results.
Inspiring our Teachers and Pupils
Following on from a series of workshops and trainings conducted by volunteer, Mark Adams, all schools have a plan to try and make teaching more interactive and energising. Teachers are being encouraged to move away from rote learning and an over-reliance on the textbook and to try new things. Santa and international volunteer Emily, have been involved in visiting the schools, observing teachers and helping them to plan their lessons. Stationery and other materials have been supplied to all schools, and headteachers have ensured that their staff are given time off to plan. Here is the science teacher from New Rise Academy demonstrating his homemade model of respiration!
Our partner schools in Kalimpong and Darjeeling have always been very grateful for the support of our international volunteers who spend time living with local families, teaching in the schools and helping both staff and pupils with their English. This year we have been privileged to post volunteers from a range of teaching backgrounds. These teachers have worked alongside the schools and Santa to provide training opportunities in different areas for example in story-telling, early years teaching and drama. We would really like to be able to send more experienced teachers to Kalimpong – do spread the word if you know any UK teachers who have time in their summer holiday, are retiring or would just like to use their skills in another setting!
Our Saathi teachers have now completed their initial training and spent the first two months in their primary schools. They are making a great start to their teaching, supported by Subash from HELP who is visiting regularly to observe and advise them. At the end of their training they had many dreams for how they could make a difference in their schools:
Kuber: I want to teach children that life is full of hardship but that you should never give up, and eventually you will be rewarded.
Merina: My aspiration for my placement is not only to learn for myself, but also to teach parents and teachers the need for education and make them responsible for children’s progress
Jyoti: My plan for the next two years is to improve English in my school so children can study English at a higher level
Sunita: My goal is to remove the fears that children have, of parents, failure, their future and economic insecurity. It is these fears that prevent them moving forward.
Thank you to everyone who supported our scholarship programme! This year HELP succeeded in awarding scholarships to 49 students to continue their studies post 16. The students have chosen a wide variety of courses including civil engineering, computer science and teacher training. They received the first instalment of their scholarship at a celebration event in August, when they also took part in a leadership workshop and had the opportunity to meet and make friends with their cohort. You can see some of the proud recipients in our cover photo!
This summer has once again seen fantastic support for our schools from Cambridge University volunteers. 33 volunteers have spent 4 weeks teaching English in Nepal. We thank them for all their time, willingness to experience new things and for the great effort they have put into fundraising for the HELP programme.
Our new programme manager, Aretha Alicia has now been in place for 6 months and is enjoying her role, working with our established team. It has been a busy few months! This quarter has seen new rounds of grants and loans for business start-ups in Masaranga and Kwa Iddi, a refresher training for staff in entrepreneurship, welfare support for blind students at Longido primary school and a new roof for Msandaka school in Moshi.
Aretha says ‘working with Mondo Foundation for 6 months has been nothing but bliss; seeing at first-hand how the lives of women and children change is truly remarkable. I sleep better at night knowing that I am a part of something bigger”
If you’ve got any questions or thoughts on our work, we’d love to hear from you!
Anna, Anthony and all The Mondo Team