We discovered HHESS - Himalayan Health and Environmental Services Solukhumbu through the website of the French Embassy in Nepal, where the association « Tashe Delek » (means « welcome » in Nepali), linked to HHESS is registered as a trustful charity association.
We so entered in contact with Dr. Mingmar Gyelzen Sherpa, who founded the association, and his daughter Ang Phurba Sherpa, who kindly welcome our project.
HHESS is involved in numerous actions for health and education, but for our concern, we focus on the « Zeke O’Connor School », located in Phaplu, Nepal, in a remote area 250 km east from Kathmandu.
The school provides an English-speaking education to 178 underprivileged children from grades 1 to 8, and his complementary to the « Zeke O’Connor High School », freshly built which hosts the youths from grades 9 to 12. The children often are issued from large families, where parents cannot afford to pay educational fees for all the children. « Zeke O’Connor School » is totally free for the children, contrary to the government public school, and provides even all the stationary and the uniforms for the pupils.
Report of the workshops in « Zeke O’Connor School », December the 27th and 30th, 2012
We arrived in Phaplu with a 2 weeks delay, since we underestimated the difficulties to reach the village. We did not try to follow by bike the tough trail which connects Phaplu to the southern valleys. We took instead the traditional way: cycling until Jiri and then trekking for 5 days until Phaplu. Another solution would have been taking a flight from Kathmandu with a 20-seats airplane that flies daily when the weather allows.
Tuesday, December the 27th
The children just finished the mid-term evaluations, and before taking part to a sport tournament and then going on winter holidays, the ones from the grades 5 and 6 (11-13 years old, 40 children in total) are told to come back to school to experience our workshops.
At 9AM, we meet Miss Marisha Sherpa, one of the school teachers and our host in Phaplu and walk down 30 minutes before joining the « Zeke O’Connor School ». In Nepal, children must be more motivated that in Europe to study, because they often have a long walk to go to school…
The courtyard is certainly the most scenic we’ve ever seen, with a great view on Mont Numbur… None of the children is missing, and the pupils listen carefully the instructions of Ms. Marisha, and Mr. Shree Krishna Gautam, another teacher who joined us.
The first workshop, dedicated to knowledge of the world is not easy for the children, who are not used to locate countries on the map. However, they seem interested and they try to answer the best they can. As usual, we go quick on the European part, which is the most difficult: so many small countries!
30 minutes later, time has come to begin with the self-portrait workshop. The children are very polite and they all thank when they receive the stationary. Quickly, the drawings are in progress, the children seem to be confident with that activity. They enjoy and make fun upon their neighbours. The atmosphere is pleasant and the drawings full of promises.
After all the drawings being completed, we make a break and everybody plays to « the hat ». We appreciate to see children full of energy and we all have a great fun.
Once the children are well excited, we ask them to come back for the painting session… They will experience painting for the first time, which makes the workshop more rewarding and interesting! Children are
pretty excited but most of them listen to the instructions… 1h30 and many runs within the class to give some paint, water or pieces of advice later, the results are damned good!
The children accept to let us their masterpieces for the exhibition to be set in France and we are grateful to them for that.
It’s around 12:00pm, and the children are now looking forward to take part to their sport tournament. They don’t even take time to eat and climb fast from the school to the pitch, nearby Phaplu. We follow the tournament during 2 days and a half, before running the next workshops.
Here are all the portraits:
Friday, December the 30th
Most of the children are on winter holidays and come back to their families, sometimes at a couple of hours from Phaplu. The poor pupils from grades 6 and 7 are requested to experience some other workshops and are told to come to school that day. We are very pleased to see that most of them really come, very few are missing.
We arrive at school before 10am, before the teachers but not even from the pupils. We take advantage of that free time to play with them in the courtyard, before entering in class and being joined by the teachers, including Mr. Shree Krishna Gautam, whom artist talents are revealing to himself in an impressive way!
In order to celebrate the beginning of the winter holidays, and to make the workshop funnier, we spend very few time on the workshop dedicated to the knowledge on the world and begin quickly on the workshop dedicated to the self-portraits in the way of Niki de Saint-Phalle.
Children are in a hurry to begin and hardly wait for our first instructions (« draw a simple oval shape for the face, then 2 big round eyes… ». Finally everybody listens to us and the drawing phase is quickly performed. In order to make the paintings more individual, we ask the children to put a personal detail in their drawing. We give as examples glasses, moustache… As a result, plenty of portraits will include glasses and moustache!
As 2 days ago, children are pretty excited by the painting and they perform in a punchy atmosphere, which matches well the purpose of that workshop: having fun while experiencing a bright and colorful portrait!
1 hour later, the paintings are completed and we can admire them. Children are a little bit tired, and we won’t ask them to concentrate one more time on drawings and paintings. We prefer instead organize a tournament of « the hat », which is well appreciated by the children!
We were very happy to get the opportunity to run the workshops with the children of the « Zeke O’Connor School », and we would like to really thank the educational team for that. During these days, we could see how great is the opportunity for the children to follow the education given by the « Zeke O’Connor School ».
Here are the portraits « in the manner of Niki de Saint-Phalle ». They are great, aren’t they?!