4th National Child Club Conference | Future Now for Sustainable Education and Environment| ECCA blogs

Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness (ECCA Nepal) organized 4th National Child Club Conference with the theme ‘Future Now for Sustainable Education and Environment’ at Agricultural Development Bank, Training Center, Bode, Madhyapur Thimi, Bhaktapur from June 5 – 7, 2017. The conference, welcomed 103 child club representatives from 6 provinces of Nepal as well as teachers, government officials and observers from different NGO/INGOs.

Inauguration of the conference took place on the occasion of World Environment Day. The conference was inaugurated by chief guest Dr. Prabhu Budhathoki, member of National Planning Commission along with Prachet Kumar Shrestha, Chairman of ECCA. The opening was also attended by guests Mr. Hari Lamsal, joint secretary of Ministry of Education, Ukesh Raj Bhuju, honorary member of ECCA and Anil Chitrakar, founder member of ECCA.

The 3 days event included different activities such as thematic sessions on Climate Change and GLOBE Program, Child Friendly Local Governance, School Environment Improvement through the active participation of school stakeholders, Child Rights and Life Skills.

Conference activities also included documentary shows, cultural program, environmental games, yoga, meditation etc. Last day of conference had prize distribution program for winners of the three competitions as well as KMP. All the competition were organized on the theme of World EnviRonment Day 2017 ‘Connecting with nature’. Roshna Nepal, Subash Shrestha, Ashish Giri, Prajwal Pandey, Pushpa Khadka and Pratiskshya Wagle won the speech competition. Suman Nagarkoti, Alisha Sonaha and Alson Shrestha were the best 3 in poster competition. Wall magazine had 3 groups out of 7 as winner groups.

A participant illustrates his vision of 'Connecting with nature' during poster competition

A participant illustrates his vision of ‘Connecting with nature’ during poster competition

“The way thematic sessions sensitized our roles, rights as well as relevant environmental issues, we feel more capable.. and empowered.” – Sonia, participant

The conference put positive hopes in children as well as teachers.

“It was an opportunity to learn, to realize the potential of our children and motivate them to perform better.”- Rudra Sangroula, teacher

Students from Jhapa present 'Sakela' dance during closing ceremony

Students from Jhapa present ‘Sakela’ dance during closing ceremony

Likewise, 7 child clubs with best proposals were awarded Rs. 25,000 in Knowledge Market Place. Nepal Rastryia Basic School and Bhagwati Basic School from Jajarkot, Kitini Secondary School from Lalitpur, Shree Bidhyadiswori Secondary School from Southern Lalitpur, Shree Dhulabari Secondary School from Jhapa, Amar Higher Secondary School, Dolakha and Laxmi Secondary School, Kanchanpur were awarded the prize.

DSC_5371

Knowledge Market Place Evaluation

With ECCA were other sponsors action medeor, Wilkins Memorial Trust, Taksvarkki ry, WWF Nepal, Antenna Technologies, and Sharada Library and Merina Ranjit, ECCA’s executive member who supported the award for deserving child clubs.

Group photo after closing ceremony

Building Ownership value through Painting!

One of the cold mornings of January when we would often be sleeping in our warm cozy bed, we packed our bags and headed to Jhule. The colder climate that was about to welcome us had us little anxious but then, we were more excited about the new work we were about to do.

After the devastating earthquake of 2015, four affected community schools of Jhule are being supported to rebuild school toilets (including girl friendly toilets) as well as drinking water and hand washing stations. With hastened and immediate use, these infrastructures could lack proper, safe and sustainable use.  To bring about conciousness and behaviourial attitude regarding sustainable use of supported WASH facilities, we volunteered to organize ‘WASH Corner and Toilet Painting’ program.

Our two teams of counselors scanned two separate schools and started off the painting. Soon, we were surrounded by school students.

“Would you help us?”, we first asked students hovering around us.  With gentle nods, interested kids lined up to receive brushes, paints and instructions. The idea was to guide and let them paint.

After allocating painting tasks, our work sped up. Gradually as the day went by, we painted meaningful messages that helped us deliver sustainable use practices along with a number of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) related alerts. As much as we were excited to continue our painting even in the evening, the cold wind held a difficulty and we completed our paintings in our first school on the third day.

For rest of the three days, we collaborated our teams mobilized in remaining schools. In all the schools, students were excited and we offered them painting tasks and advices for sustainable use simultaneously.  The result was truly satisfying!

“We don’t think any student would want to make these walls dirty”, said a participating student with a laugh.

“Besides decoration, these paintings have given a value. Thank you so much”, teachers shared.

We are glad our hard work was able to influence schools for better use of constructed facilities.

  • Upama Tamla (Rai)

Wall magazine training and material support for nature clubs in Dolakha

On early morning of November 4, we set out to Jhule, Dolakha for 3 days Wall Magazine Training for nature clubs. Our objective was to make them capable of raising issues of their community especially WASH(Water, sanitation and hygiene) through simple yet effective approach of Wall Magazine publication. But our journey did not turn out to be easy and after being stuck at Bojh (50 km away from Jhule) for 7 hours, we had feeble hope of getting the training under scheduled hours. When we finally reached Jhule the next morning, we had gathered our enthusiasm and started the training.

Over the next three days, we made 27 nature club members and 4 club teachers familiar with components of wall magazine. It included news writing, magazine layout, editorial writing as well as other indispensable contents. Use of cartoons and drawings to symbolize issues related to water, sanitation and hygiene especially handwashing, drinking water precautions were also emphasized. To engage the students more, we organized competitions on three sections: article writing, drawing and wall magazine on the final day. Individuals and groups from both primary and secondary schools who showed comparatively exceptional performance were awarded.

The training, in fact, brought out the creativity of students and prompted them to be involved in awareness raising activities. It also gave us a chance to interact with club members regarding their activities plan. Wall magazine boards and few stationary materials have been provided to all of the nature clubs. Club members have committed to regularly publish the wall magazine and agreed to making it an informational and creative platform for fellow students.

img_1215

  • Upama Tamla (Rai)

ECCA Nepal signs 3 years Project Agreements with DDC, DEO in Eastern Nepal

‘Supporting Youth for Making Child and Environmentally Friendly Schools in Nepal’ is a student oriented co-project of ECCA (Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness) and Taksvärkki ry with an objective of establishing pleasant and efficient learning environment for students of rural Nepal. The project will be implemented in 15 government schools of three districts- Jhapa, Morang and Dhankuta along with youth exchange programme in 2 schools of Lalitpur.

During first week of February 2016, ECCA signed project agreements with district government officials with an aim to bring them together with other school stakeholders. Besides comprehensive discussions on work plan and agreement signing, ECCA visited School Management Committee, Parents Teacher Association and Nature Clubs of each project schools in all three districts for sharing of drafted school improvement plans prepared by school stakeholders themselves during training camp conducted in November.

12670276_890848381036520_5371747664993177709_n

Meeting with Child Club, PTA and SMC at Shree Sagma Secondary School, Dhankuta

“We aim to bring around maximum involvement of each school stakeholder for effective and sustainable outcome from this project”, said Rabindra Khatri, ECCA program officer during the agreement discussion. “From providing regular trainings for nature clubs to supporting schools for WASH infrastructures, we are ready to help in every possible way. But for that, we need co-operation and initiation from young students as well as school representatives”, he added.

“Most of the schools residing in extreme hilly and rural area like ours lie far from interest of people mainly because reaching here is a difficult job. It takes hours to reach schools and even if someone agrees to help, simply transporting materials for infrastructure development or manpower takes double or triple of time, effort and expenses”, shared headmaster of one of the schools in Letang, Morang. “We have been trying to make our schools better for education. Thank you for reaching out to help us. This brings a new beginning for everyone of us here.”

IMG_9019.JPG

“I wish we had a better place to safely keep our books and… more books to study!”- Susma, class 9, Dhankuta

12657924_707032666066001_3021054335312237167_o.jpg

School visit at Jhapa by ECCA along with District Program Officer of Jhapa Mr. Him Raj Sedai (second from left)

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.707031236066144.1073741959.116503395118934&type=1&l=d4240a7d4e

-Upama Tamla (Rai), Media Associate, ECCA

Door-to-Door Programs

2

Nature Club members attending a short orientation on Door-to-Door Programs

 

Despite having to report early on a Saturday morning, all the members of the Nature Club are always eager to start their door-to-door program. After brief introductions and an orientation, the members of the Nature Club are split into groups. Each group is provided with a flip chart filled with various facts about WATASOL and water borne diseases, WATASOL bottles, two unused coliform vials, flyers and posters. The teams are also given two samples of coliform test results – one showing contaminated water and another showing uncontaminated water. The locals become more willing to listen to the children when they find out that most of the water from sources around their community turned into a black liquid after the test, indicating a high level of contamination.

1

Students of Mahendra Vidya Ashram explaining the use of WATASOL to a local

 

The teams go around the locality in their designated areas and stop by shops, restaurants and households along the way. The children are able to elaborate easily with the flipchart, as it has pictorial representations of the facts. The teams also sell 60ml WATASOL bottles to the locals. The locals buy them more readily when they are informed that they can go to the school for a cheap refill and half the proceeds would go to the nature club itself.

“We were able to understand that team work and coordination among the members is essential to run the activities”, Smriti stated.

“We were very glad that we were able to make people understand the importance of safe drinking water,” said Ajay.

“I learned how to deal with rejection. At first, I was dejected when the locals didn’t want to buy WATASOL but then I learned how to cope with it and carried on. Interaction and presentation with people also help students like us to increase confidence”, Sonu Thapa stated as she recalled her experience.

In the last few weeks, 5 schools have conducted Door-to-Door program.

  • Lalit Kalyan School, Lalitpur – Nov 28
  • Mahendra Vidya Ashram, Bhaktapur – Dec 5
  • St. Paul School, Thecho, Lalitpur – Dec 5
  • Kanchan English Secondary School, Chapagaun – Dec 5
  • Tika Bhairab School, Lele – Dec 11

The door-to-door program has proved to be an effective community awareness program. Along with raising awareness, it also develops interaction skills of the students. By the end of the two-hour long program, almost all the children are able to communicate with new people readily.  The children also develop a sense of responsibility as they are able to collect fund for their club activities.

The experience of a Nature Club President

The earthquake in April left a deep rooted terror in the Nepalese minds. In the days that followed the earthquake, the fear was palpable. But amidst the fear and destruction, Ashok Maharjan, a student from Zing Secondary School, Khokana, Lalitpur rose to take action. Witnessing his community crumbling down and having to live out in the open with no shelter was a stark contrast to his normal life. For a Grade 10 student, the reality of being helpless weighed down his mind more than the terror.

The earthquake stripped the community of its basic essentials like water and electricity. At that time, people had no choice but to drink water directly from the source. This posed a serious health risk and increased the chances of an epidemic.

Keeping the threat of an epidemic in mind, Ashok bravely decided to use the skills he learned in his school’s Nature Club and produced Chlorine Solution, WATASOL, despite the ceaseless aftershocks and his family’s worry. As the Nature Club’s President, he called his friends Dipesh Dongol and Sajjan Maharjan and together with the WATA device, set out to find a place with electricity. The locals donated the salt needed for production of WATASOL.  After half an hour of wandering, he reached Bhaisepati, the neighboring town where there was electricity and started producing WATASOL.

IMG_5812

Ashok Maharjan from Zing Secondary School, Khokana, Lalitpur

“Electricity and transportation was the biggest hurdle”, Ashok states. “The people were very supportive and were ready to help us. As part of our Nature Club activities, we had begun to produce WATASOL and distribute it in our community even before the earthquake. As a result, the locals were familiar with WATASOL and accepted it without complains or suspicion.”

He continues to guide and advise other students in his school as well as those who live in the vicinity.

Ashok Maharjan is a prime example of a motivated youth who leads his peers. ECCA is proud to be able to support Ashok in his efforts and hopes to empower and motivate others youths as well.

Child Club into Beneficial Cardamom Farming

I think what we have been doing here is unique. To initiate anything is a hard job, but it isn’t impossible either.”- Prem Tamang, student

From women to children, ECCA has always been supporting each person as well as each school and community within its reach to utilize available local resources for common benefit. Instead of letting a fertile land inside the school arena go to waste, the child club of Shree Bag Bhairav Higher Secondary School of Chaughare-8, Lalitpur, Nepal decided to start Cardamom farming 3 years ago with the support of ECCA.

IMG_5072.JPG

Cardamom Farming Area of Shree Bagbhairav Child Club, Chaughare-8, Nepal

“I saw my senior brothers and sisters initiate Cardamom with ECCA farming three years ago. I was motivated. Now that I am a club member myself, I feel very proud and responsible as well towards encouraging younger fellows to work for meaningful ideas”, shared Bijay Tamang, a class nine student.

IMG_5073

Cultivated Cardamom plants

The saplings that the club planted have now grown to be mature healthy plants. The club informed that the cardamom seeds are now almost ready to be extracted from raw plants. Cheers to all the hard work!

  • Upama Tamla (Rai), ECCA

Distributing educational kits in Sindhupalchowk – an experience from the field

On September 9, 2015 a group of volunteers left ECCA office towards Barabisee, Sindupalchwok, for a one day trip. One of the vehicles was loaded with around 30 piles of copies, solar tukis, six boxes of stationery and sports materials that were to be distributed to the six schools of that area. After a 100km ride through magnificent natural beauty, we finally reached to Barabisee. On the way, we had to cross the remainings of a big landslide that burried a whole village one year ago.

on the road to Sindhupalchowk

unloading notebooks for distribution to schools

A group of teachers of the benefiting schools came to welcome us and to take the materials that were donated by HANDS through ECCA to their schools. Among the six schools Bhatte Primary School received solar tukis for students and staffs for being able to complete the construction of their TLC. We distributed the materials to all the schools and afterwards visited a very special school: Sindhu Bahira Lower Secondary School, dedicated to differently abled persons, especifically deaf. There are 46 students from 13 different districts of Nepal who all stay in the school’s hostel facilites. These 46 students don’t want to add ‘DIS’ to their abilities. “They have a disability, yes that’s true, but all that this really means is they may have to take a slightly different path than you and rest of us. No one is equally able; in their case they are differently abled.” says Maina Karki, principle of the school.

unloading solar lamps for distribution to schools

Maina Karki who has been running the school for five years now, says there are seven teaching staffs in the school, among which four are differently abled and three have taken the training to teach these students. But visiting a deaf school doesn’t mean visiting a silent place: Some students know actually how to speak and anyway there’s is chatting in sign language going on all around. When I asked the principle how that comes she introduced me to other three teachers who could speak but not hear. They lost their hearing ability as they grew up.

TLC in use

Like on every other place where children are around, they were very curious to meet us and find out what we were doing at their place like when reading the sign for the TLC we had brought with us. Somewhere in their eyes they were saying no to the disability, they were demanding the society to see them all equally. In that air I felt the vibes, I felt a determination and I read in those eyes: We, the ones who are challenged, need to be heard. To be seen not as a disability, but as a person who has and will continue to bloom. To be seen not only as handicapped, but as an interacting human being

classroom destroyed by the earthquake

I don’t know if we could do anything but they did they gave us so much energy, they taught us life isn’t easy, it’s you who makes it easier or hard. After visiting the new TLC, constructed with ECCA’s support, Maina mam lead us to the old school through rice fields and a waterfall. The former school building is located on the bank of Bhote Koshi, but now ruined and labeled unsafe by the government after the earthquake. The school was in a beautiful location and a merciful condition. While we were observing the ruined school and hostel, Maina mam told us how happy she is that none of the students got injured in the earthquakes. We sat down for a while, took pictures of the ruined school building and went back crossing the suspension bridge nearby. We bid our bye to Maina mam and left for Kathmandu. Sitting in the car and looking out of the window I was just thinking about that school more about the students. They helped me realized that they weren’t deaf it was us who were deaf to hear them; they have always spoken their silent words.

Written by Roshan Khadka

No disability or dictionary out there is capable of clearly defining who we are as a person. It’s only when we step out of that labeled box, that our abilities begin to be fully recognized, giving us a better definition of who we truly are as individuals – Robert M. Hensel

teachers and ECCA volunteers

POST EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY SUPPORT @ MIRGE, DOLAKHA

Kalidevi Secondary School damaged by earthquake

Kalidevi Secondary School damaged by earthquake

During the assessment and distribution of relief materials in Dolakha (in May 2015), the ECCA team found heavy damages to school buildings, WASH infrastructure and health threat among children and even among adult and elderly people. Most of school students’ education materials were buried under the debris, due to which they were anxious on how to restart their school life. Therefore, there was an urgent need of recovery and rehabilitation program for the school students.

At first, ECCA conducted a three days TOT training program for the youth volunteers on 17th-19th June 2015 at ECCA premises Kathmandu. The youths were trained on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), Life Skills along with psychological activities specially designed for the current situation so as to help the students recover from the traumatized situation and continue their studies at school.

Stationery materials distribution

Stationery materials distribution

Immediately after the training, 20 youth volunteers (divided into 4 groups) were mobilized at 4 project schools of Mirge, Dolakha (Majh Gaun Lower Secondary School, Mirge 1; Kali Dhunga Higher Secondary School, Mirge 7; Kali Devi Secondary School, Payele; and Lali Gurash Bright Future English School, Laligurash Danda). They stayed there for 5 days (22nd -26th June, 2015) and facilitated different fun, skillful, engaging and relieving activities for all the 664 students of the four schools to support them to get back to their normal school lives again. To conduct the WASH and Life Skill Camp in harmony and to gain the maximum benefit from the camp program, class wise division was done into 4 categories- Class 1-3, 4-5, 6-8 and 9-10.

Teaching proper hand washing technique

Teaching proper hand washing technique

Shyam Lama, member of ‘Majh Gaun Nature Club’ expressed “It was ECCA counselors who first taught us how to make chlorine solution (WATASOL). They provided us with all the required materials and gave us enough training. Now we can prepare WATASOL on our own and protect ourselves from water borne diseases.” Likewise, mother of Bilash Paudel of class 3 from Shree Kali Dhunga Higher Secondary School expressed that she was very happy to see positive impacts on her son. He shared his learning and taught the hand washing method to his family members.

As the devastating earthquake has destroyed the water sources, the chances of contracting water borne diseases have increased. To prevent an outbreak, the students were taught hand washing activity and the production and use of WATASOL for water purification.

“I have seen progressive change in the behavior and regular attendance of the students due to the camp activities. Now, the students are more active, energetic and lively in the schools. The technique is very effective as they are learning through fun and interactive activities. Again, I am very grateful to ECCA team and the volunteers for all the support and the help.”- Words shared by Puskar Dahal, Teacher of Kali Dhunga Higher Secondary School, Mirge 7.

Psychological activities were also included in the camp sessions to help the students recover from the trauma they were facing due to the earthquake. Many students were mentally disturbed and not in a state to attend schools continuously. So as to help the students, different activities like- Sharing experience, Dominant and non dominant hand exercise, yesterday today tomorrow, Anger Management, Draw your safe space, Balloon blast and coping skill via ball games were performed. These activities helped the students to minimize their distress.

Parents observing work of their children

Parents observing work of their children

ECCA supported a day meal in all the project schools for the students and the staff members during the training period. Due to shortage of food materials, students were not attending the schools earlier. Day meal helped the students to come to the school continuously.

Ramji Ghimire, Kali Devi Lower Secondary School shared “I express my gratitude to ECCA for supporting stationery materials (copy, dot pens, pencils, erasers and sharpeners) for all the students and game materials (carom board, chess board, ludo, skipping, football, volleyball and flying disk), first aid kit, jerry cans, white boards and markers for school. ECCA also supported the construction of water tank in the school as devastating earthquake of 12th May, 2015 severely damaged water tanks of our school.”

By: Shailena Sthapit (ECCA Staff)

Dolakha Diary – An Experience organizing camp in School

Dolkha Dairy

Dolkha Dairy

“Namaste miss. Namaste sir. Welcome to our school.” When there are blissful tiny voices greeting you along with their tiny hands heavy with garlands that clearly define affection, plus those warm smiles loaded with innocence, you’re bound to forget all your fatigue and consider yourself blessed to be among those people with big hearts. Likewise, the moment we got an affectionate welcome at Kalidevi Lower secondary School of Mirge, Dolakha on June we felt that the challenges we faced on our way, which included of a massive rainfall plus a life-threatening landslide were all worth it.

But the next moment when we let our eyes wander, we saw true horrors of earthquake. The earthquake had left them nothing but a tiny building. All other school infrastructures were in rubbles. Although some temporary structures had been set up for running the classes, most of the students had no materials for study. Many students had their uniform and books buried during the earthquake. Desks and benches were made locally yet they were still not enough for students. We further discovered that the health status of all the children was in a risky situation. All the students and even teachers used tap water from the toilet directly for drinking. Moreover, the nature club of the school was already functionless long ago so there was no chlorine production and no use of chlorine as well. Hence, our foremost objective lied in reactivating the nature club and making all students informative regarding sanitation and healthy habits besides making efforts to take them out of the earthquake trauma.

Fun with Mask

Fun with Mask

We thus started our sessions as scheduled, with numerous games and activities. The children were surprisingly shy and there were few who volunteered for anything we asked. As we started our drawing and coloring sessions in pre-primary classrooms, they were happy beyond anything. Even the teachers told us that they themselves rarely taught children that way. On the other hand, older students seemed fascinated by things that could be learned through art and games.

Students enjoying with mask and characters.

Students enjoying with mask and characters.

On our second morning, we witnessed yet another suffering of the school. Previous night’s rainfall had pooled the school ground and half of the temporary classrooms were flooded with water. Students were busy ploughing around the ground for a water outlet and we got worried about our sessions. Despite everything, we were determined to place the students at ease and try sharing our earthquake experiences together so that they could free themselves from the subconscious trauma.

“During the earthquake of April 25, 2015 I was in maize field working with my mom. When the quake hit us, my mom started screaming and all houses around us started collapsing. That night all of us villagers slept in the maize field of our neighbors and ate whatever we had. Our home got destroyed and we’re now living in temporary shelter. I don’t think it’s ever going to be same again…” As Pabitra spoke these words, the whole class was silent. One by one, every student began to speak up and involuntarily there established a bond among us that reminded us of our common misery and then the strength that we could find among ourselves to overcome it.

On our third and last day, we reformed a nature club in the school. After teaching and demonstrating them things about WATASOL, its method of production and usage, they grew confident about producing and distributing it in the village for safe drinking water.

Students displaying about need of safe drinking water and chlorination as an option.

Students displaying about need of safe drinking water and chlorination as an option.

Meanwhile students from lower section enjoyed learning proper hand washing techniques and other creative activities.

On the second half of the day, the school held a short farewell programme during which we distributed copies and other stationery materials to the students and eventually handed over whiteboards, markers, game materials and a first-aid kit to the school. An exhibition was held at the same time which exhibited our students’ works. Parents observed and thanked us for helping their children. And when the teachers enthusiastically said that they were motivated by our work, we couldn’t help smiling. We were humbled moreby warm farewell given by the children. The moment was indeed very overwhelming because when those blissful tiny voices bade us farewell along with their tiny hands and hugs that clearly defined affection,we forgot the world for a moment and considered ourselves blessed to be among all those people with big hearts.
Thank you ECCA!

Students thanking our team after training program.

Students thanking our team after training program.

With students before departure.

With students before departure.

[The experiences are based on a week long Life Skill Camp mission held at Kali Devi Lower Secondary School, Paile Mirge, Dolkha by Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness from June 23 to June 25, 2015]

by – Upama Tamla