As the new year starts, the spread of the Omicron variant is bringing challenges to our programmes, with vaccination rates far lower than hoped in all our project areas. However, we are working hard to continue our programmes and to make plans for a more normal year in 2022.
Nepal is currently reporting a daily increase in Covid rates of 10,000 a day and total cases are at their highest since
the start of the pandemic. 88% of these cases are now the Omicron variant and so far this is not causing a large rise in the number of hospitalisations. However, due to the number of staff off sick the health and education sectors are struggling. Schools are currently closed for 2 weeks until 29th January when a further decision will be made.
However, our programmes in Nepal have been running as normal for the last 6 months with 17 Saathi teachers now working in schools across Melamchi and Panchpokhari. The current cohort are using the 2 weeks school closure time for training, and have made plans how to continue to support pupils if the schools remain closed for a longer period. We are also in the process of recruiting a further group of teachers to start in March. Our building of a community education centre in Parangtol is well underway and we are also very much hoping that groups of volunteers from Loughborough and Cambridge Universities will be able to travel out to Nepal this spring/summer.
Our partner schools in India have largely remained closed for the last two years, although towards the end of 2021 year 10 classes were back in school, and other pupils were attending part time. The omicron wave hit India a few weeks before Nepal and lockdown measures, including the closure of schools and other institutions, are now back in place. In January, Mondo has again provi
ded all schools in Kalimpong with grants, to help them to pay their teachers and acquire resources for the new school year. It is hoped that the schools will be able to reopen in February, and teachers are making preparation for this. Mondo aims to resume our volunteering and teacher training programme in 2022, depending on the situation.
Tanzanian schools have remained open as usual in the last year, and we have recently completed a project to provide handwashing and sanitation facilities to one school in Moshi. Our agricultural business grants programme is now complete and has been very successful in allowing our beneficiaries to increase their income through small scale farming. Two village banking groups have also been formed and are functioning well. In 2022 we are planning to continue our grants programme, with the first group of 24 beneficiaries now selected and starting up a wide variety of business ventures.