16.05.2012 - 16.05.2012 15 °C
Dr Mingma was a great host organizing our time in Phaplu, starting with lunch at the hotel, which was the traditional dhal baht, actually the first time we had it on our trip. We then had to walk up to the school where we heard they were having some sort of ceremony for us. We should also mention the school was located 500 ft higher than the hotel, no problem for me and Sherpa Sarah! Well they were all waiting for us as we were the guests of honour!!! All the students of the school, about 300, were waiting, and we walked through a receiving line and given flowers and many khadas by the students. When I got back I counted mine and I had 17 of them! A khada is a traditional Nepali scarf offered as a mark of respect and allegiance. We received them several times in our trip but this was the most overwhelming.
The formal program started with a capping ceremony for the graduating nursing students. Karen, Patti and Byron and several other head table members helped present the caps to the students. Next up was presenting certificates to the women who completed the women's literacy program. Brought a tear to my eye when one of those ladies spoke and said when she started she could not write her own name. When we left we made a point of going over and congratulated these women.
There were many other local and government officials there, some who had never been to Phaplu like ourselves. Dr Mingma was the host as it is his home town and he is also the Deputy Minister of Health for Nepal. We were treated to some traditional Sherpa and Nepali dances and some not so traditional ones by the students. After the dancing they then proceeded to feed us all, guests and students, which kept most of the students past their 4 pm quitting time.
The school is called the Zeke O'Conner school. Zeke was a very close personal friend of Sir Edmund Hillary and he is the founder of the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada. The Rotary Club of Calgary donated funds to add several buildings to the school which will enable them to provide grades 11 & 12 locally so the kids do not have to leave home to complete high school. This will also allow them to expand the curriculum to include the sciences. We then went further up the hill to view these other buildings that were nearly finished.
To be involved with helping these students having a school with both electricity and running water is incredible.