Bridge to Nepal Blog

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grace School

In 2007 we purchased land, and in 2008, built a new school called Grace Primary School (above, below). Grace School was built to serve the families in the villages of AshaNagar and ViswasNagar who did not have a school. In Nepali, the name for the school is Anugraha Paatshala.
Grace School is in Peeperkoti, about an hour from Tikapur by bicycle. Crossing the Pattriya (Stony) river is part of the ordeal of getting there.

Peeperkoti is a beautiful alluvial plain, where the soil is rich with frequent flood deposition. It is just a few miles from the Indian border. AshaNagar and Viswas Nagar were started here, each with 20 families, who received acre-sized plots of farmland. AshaNagar (Hope Town) lacked a right-of-way, and eventually the people here built their huts on other pieces of land they traded with a bank, and farm the plots. There is no longer a cohesive AshaNagar community.

ViswasNagar (Faith Town) could have also disintegrated, but there are seven families that have held together. The other 13 families still visit to till their land.

Grace School is fully private, and is located in the vicinity of AshaNagar and ViswasNagar. The families from these communities are excitedly participating in the school, have helped with the construction, and are increasingly uniting in changing the face of the area. About 70% of the children are from ex-slave families, and most of the rest are rural poor from the area.

I am thrilled to see the progress every time I visit. The school has PreK, kindergarten, and Grades 1, 2, and 3. By the end of 2008, enrollment reached 100. It is expected to rise to 150 when the next academic year begins in April. School fees are around $0.50 a month, which is all that most can afford. It is my hope that in five years, we can operate the school without subsidies. To that end, we are investing in more land for banana plantations, microloans for livestock, and sending some of the older children to Goa (India) for vocational training.