November 4, 2009: Madi

This morning I wake early and head up to see the view from where our center will be built. I’m especially interested in seeing how the sun will rise over the hills to the east of us and fall on the property throughout the day. Since there is no heating nor lighting we need to get the best sun angle to heat up and illuminate the room. At 10 AM, right on schedule, Megh arrives after having walked from Kusma. He looks relaxed and cool despite the fact that we were bushed after having completed only 3/4 of this trip in about twice as long! It is easy to be a humble visitor in Nepal as there so many opportunities to show your physical shortcomings.

We show him the equipment we have and Tineke demonstrates some of the Montessori-style teaching tools. After that we head out to the Child Care Center.

We find the children and teachers inside along with an array of other children outside here to watch the children play. There are a lot of school age children here as this is rice harvest time and the schools have closed so that families can reap the harvest. Tineke takes the children outside and shows the teachers and children a “musical feet” game. After some hesitation soon more and more children get engaged but it is clear this game is from some other planet as far as they are concerned; fun yes, but very different.

Then we move to a shady area and get out the Duplo blocks. The next hour is truly magical as the children dig in with abandon. Soon two or three of the “take charge” types are constructing huge towers each taller than the other, then some houses, walls and just sticking blocks together. A moderate amount of coaching here and there is all that is required. This was clearly a big success and a crowd gathered to see what the children were doing. Here was the perfect example of Learn Through Play. Even though this was there first exposure to the Duplo some of them quickly mastered the way the blocks fit together, which were 4 knob blocks and which were 8. The youngest cild there was 1 1/2 and she was right into it with everyone else.

That afternoon Gyanendra and I make a plan for the building using Google SketchUp. We include a second floor with four rooms set aside for guests. With such a view it will not be difficult to attract foreign guest here and their stay will help keep the center sustainable beyond the 3 year program we have agreed upon. Bringing tourists here will have a number of secondary benefits but it will take some time to get that organized.

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