Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Preparing for the unknown…Who knew?
Exactly, a month after signing a five-year lease agreement for the third building to house grades 4, 5, and 6 the country came to a grinding halt (Lockdown). This entailed an additional $1500 per month. The virus was spreading rapidly across the globe and made its entry into Nepal too. COVID-19 ….. were we ready to handle such a time as this? (Esther 4:14) …..Why not? We survived a major earthquake of a 7.8 Richter scale, and now this virus, we thought it would be over too. But, as we move into the 10th month, it continues to affect families, jobs, economy, travels, education and so much more. Our New Normal began in mid-April as we embraced the call to start teaching virtually and reach out to our 145 children, their parents, and 40 staff. The New normal meant a shift from books, whiteboards, and markers to complex technologies. Imparting lessons through Zoom, Google meet, Google classroom, Viber, What’s App, school App, etc. We learned to use all of the gizmos before we could teach again. “Teachers are amazing… Teaching is so meaningful”
The silver lining in this chaos should never be missed: God’s faithfulness – small institutions like ours are still surviving. We have completed 9 months of virtual class with 99% attendance. It is a big miracle story for us. Many private schools in Nepal are struggling as they are unable to sustain or run virtual classes due to technical challenges such as lack of internet access, lack of devices, and lack of funds to pay the monthly rentals and staff salary. Other challenges included the inability of school staff to come together and plan properly, guardians not wanting to pay their school fees, and finally landlords not willing to lighten the burden of high rentals. However, after several virtual meetings with parents, staff, and the landlords, we made some progress in getting everyone on board with our plans for these uncertain times. Finally, parents (who are able) agreed to pay 75% of the school fee. This is key to the next steps of salary, rent, taxes, etc.
Our Hopes and Challenges
This is the 9th year of serving the Nepali community through education. In these nine years, the school has grown from 49 students to 145 students, from 13 staff to 40 staff, from one building to three buildings. Likewise, it has established its own reputation but the challenges of being in a rented space continue.
Space constraints have limited our intake. Most parents are seeking a proper and bigger school infrastructure and facility. However, during this pandemic, many parents have appreciated the effort put forth by the school in bringing some normalcy and continuity to children’s education. Lockdown has restricted not just their movement but socializing with their peers. But coming to virtual class and seeing their teachers and friends have meant more than we ever thought. Here are some encouraging notes from the parents.
“Zoom classes have been great. We are really grateful for the effort all the teachers are putting into it. Kids loved the virtual tour. What a fantastic idea. Thank you so much for coming up with it and organizing it”
– Pediatrician and mother of two kids.
“Teachers are unseen heroes in this pandemic after health workers. Gratitude to all school families. Would like to assure you that we are together on this journey. Just a mantra for now – this too shall pass.” – Mental Health and Psychological counselor, Grade 5 parent.
Field trips continue to be a part of their education, but at a different level – “Virtual Tours.” Children went on virtual tours to “Elephant Breeding Center in Chitwan Wildlife Safari, Field Farm, Aston Lane, Shardlow, Derby, UK. Our 5th graders also connected with Brana, a school in the Czech Republic and they visited a small farm in the outskirts of Kathmandu.
Our immediate hope is that we continue to offer virtual classes and pay all our staff during this pandemic and sustain during this uncertain time. Our long-term hope is that we may grow as a school that continues to open doors of opportunity to brothers and sisters throughout the unity to come and serve in Nepal. Likewise to be a witness of Christ through training and educating, creating employment opportunities, and sharing God’s love through transforming society, one student at a time. Virtual tours are still on our list of “Things to Explore” for our children. We are grateful to God for this opportunity to be serving the community through the ministry of education.
Scholarship: As of today, there are 10 students under the scholarship program from grades 5, 4, 3, 1, UKG, LKG. We are grateful for the continuation of grant scholarships for three girls even during this pandemic.
Please pray for:
- To continue offering classes without issues during this pandemic. Start thinking about the post-covid situation when the school begins to re-open physically.
- Teachers: to remain strong, motivated, and happy.
- Parents: To be open to supporting the school through their involvement and payment of school fees.
- Management and admin team: For strength, wisdom, and discernment as we work under much stress from various levels.
- Landlords: Pray for the three landlords that they may understand the challenges of raising monthly school fees from students. They may be flexible in expecting monthly rental deadlines.
- Grade 6 certification/License
- Setting up the third site: computer lab, classrooms, playground, etc.
- New Student enrollments
- Volunteers: They may be able to come and service when things get back to normal.