Greetings to our many supporters around the UK and the rest of the world.
It has been exam time in Pokhara, and we have just received the results. All our students have been successful whatever year they are in. We are delighted. Nepal’s SLC (School Leaving Certificate) is like our GCSE. Students sit the exam at 16. They cannot continue in education without it.
It’s a tough exam: in the whole country, only 40% pass, including the more privileged private school students. Of the state school kids, only 28% of the 40% get through.
So when seven of our students* sat the exam this year it was a crucial test. Had we chosen the right students three or four years ago? Had our supporters’ cash been wasted? Happily the results were positive and all seven passed the SLC, some with distinction.
Passing the SLC means that we continue to support those students during the Plus Two years, to 18. We increase the funding to £100 a year, to cover increased costs of textbooks, exam fees and travel. Any support after 18 depends on funding, for Higher Education is expensive, even in Nepal.
Within the next two weeks, all our supporters will be receiving their annual update, with school mark-sheets, biographies, photographs and (with a few exceptions) personal letters from their students.
*Kiran Bastola, Sunita Paudel, Jamana Gurung, Ganga Gurung her twin sister, Subas Kandel, Sangita Devkota and Sishir Baral
School bags distribution
We found a little spare cash this year, and decided to combine usefulness and publicity. Every Fishtail Fund student was given a school bag, with the Fishtail Fund name printed on it alongside Rotary emblems. Publicity works, even in Nepal: we now have three students being sponsored as a direct result of hearing of Fishtail from within Nepal.
The story of Ashish Pun
Many of our students leave poor but reasonably secure lives. However Ashish’s story shows how precarious life in Nepal can be.
Anyone who has travelled in Nepal will remember looking down to the great rivers, where dirt-poor families scratch a living by gathering sand and rocks to make government roads. Their poverty is extreme, their lives apparently without hope.
One of our students is one of them, and he is very clever indeed.
We have supported Ashish for two years. Last week out Nepal Coordinator Binod Koirala needed to update our records. He went to see Ashish. Since the school was closed, he managed to meet him down by the banks of the river, where his family is living, collecting and breaking stones for a living. The life is not easy, indeed full of risk, working in sand and stone mines at the riverside. Anytime, a flood can displace them, drown them or wash their home away.
Life holds few aces for Ashish. Yet at the age of 15, a powerful, muscular boy, he attends school when he can and should be allowed to hope for a bright future. He gained 75.5% this year, which is almost a distinction, with highest marks in Maths and Science. In his letter to his sponsor he wrote:
…. we all work from morning to evening …. but I like my school. I want to be an electrical engineer ….
Seeing Ashish hang on in school, flourish academically and have such ambitions for himself, makes the support of the Fishtail Fund very worthwhile.
£200 to spare?
If you are over 65, the Government will be giving you £200 this November. Some people feel they don’t really need this extra cash and give it to a good cause. What better good cause than The Fishtail Fund? In 2009 the Fund was actually started by a Rotarian donating the grant.
£200 will cover the costs of a 17-year-old student for a full two years!
Of course, if you are writing your will ….
Fishtail on Facebook
We now have our own Facebook pages. You can find them through the bottom left of the website home page. If you worry about misuse of your identity, just do not sign in, hit any Facebook buttons or choose to ‘like’ any articles.
Porter crisis for trekkers
Any readers who have trekked in the Pokhara area of Nepal may be interested in a short film about a shortage of experienced porters: