Firstly I want to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to all of you who so generously continue to support us. We work hard to achieve grants from Trusts, Financial Bodies etc., but it is supporters like you who are the mainstay of our undertakings in Aruchour.
New Trustees: We welcomed some new members to our management group in 2011. Firstly Nicholas Arbuthnott kindly consented to be a Trustee; then, Alan Cesarano, Christine Edwards and David Woodman have all joined us as Associate Members, each of them contributing to the work of the project in individual ways. Our last trustees meeting was on 14th January this year and the next one will be on 23rd June (this meeting will also incorporate our AGM)
Visit to Aruchour: In October/November last year I made my fifth visit to the village. Travelling with me was two of our new Associate Members, Christine Edwards (making her second visit to the village) and Alan Cesarano (his first visit). It is important to be clear that all these visits are self-funded. As with administration costs, which are met by the Revell family, Tilden Project Nepal funds do not finance travel to Nepal, even though the visits are vital to our progress. So I am especially grateful to both Christine and Alan (and in the past to Timothy, Neil and Pete), who not only give generously of their experience and expertise, but also fund their own trips to the village. We were fortunate to be in the village during Tihar which is a festival lasting about 5 days.
On most of the special days we caught a glimpse of small ceremonies eg. The Day of the Cow saw the whole family decorating their cattle with garlands and rice pats, preparing them special food, saying prayers and carrying out rituals that are clearly an important part of the Hindu belief system. But they managed to do all these things either between jobs or at the beginning or end of a day’s work, rather than take a day off for themselves.
The most significant day, in which we truly participated, was Bhai Tika – Brother and Sister Festival, when brother and sister honour each other, again with specific rituals, tikka and exchange of small gifts. We were thrilled to be invited to become honorary brothers and sisters to members of the family and enjoyed a very special time participating in what were clearly deeply significant proceedings. Fortunately we had all invested in traditional Nepali dress at the beginning of this visit, much to the delight of our hosts.
Even on this very special day, however, the field work was done first. Alan Cesarano’s role on the visit was ‘film maker’. He took masses of film, as well as still photographs. He is now working to produce one film for promotion of the work of TPN, plus a series of short films for schools, which will enable us to complete our education /fundraising pack for use in primary and lower secondary schools. Christine’s role was adviser/photographer and she has a keen interest in setting up the ‘Speaking English in Schools’ volunteer programme. This will be one of the core functions of Tilden House, once we have established that facility. So, if any of you have aspirations to work in a remote Nepalese mountain village, let us know; we are already building up a list of prospective volunteers.
We visited many parts of the village whilst there and met many new people. Needless to say we also encountered a great many requests for assistance. Currently we allocate the committee in Aruchour an annual budget of £3000 for projects of £500 or less. This is empowering them to make their own decisions about priorities for the community. Tilden House: It was important for us to identify either a site or a suitable building for this project whilst in the village. We found a couple of possibilities, which we continue to explore – watch this space! We were also able to identify potential resources in relation to providing a communication centre in Tilden House. Every opportunity was used to discuss the potential advantages of an English Speaking in Schools programme. We have raised sufficient funds to proceed with Tilden House once an appropriate site is available, but need to raise more to be able to tackle all the new ventures to be included in Tilden House.
Sad News since this Last Visit: You may remember Sita Chetri from our calendars. She has always been a member of our committee and is also a builder of smokeless stoves for TPN. Sadly, we heard in March this year that Sita’s husband had died from TB. This was a great shock because even in Nepal it is uncommon now for someone to die from this disease and also because although we have seen Sita frequently when in Aruchour, we were unaware that her husband had been diagnosed five years ago with TB. It would appear he had limited treatment in the early days, but this was not continued and certainly he did not receive all the medical care he needed. It has been a sharp reminder of the continuing lack of education within this community concerning health and preventive medicine.
Health Programme: This sad event has strengthened our resolve to begin to tackle issues of health and medical care in the village. Because this is such a complex area, we had previously felt we had neither the skills nor the resources to tackle the work alone. Spurred on by news of Sita’s tragedy and encouraged by advice and support received from our advisor Dr. Barbara Holl, we made an application to the British Humane Association for a grant to enable us to initiate a health programme in Aruchour – see YouTube. We have just learned that we have been awarded £6,500 from BHA. This is great news and means we are ready to commence our Health Programme.
Use of technical resources: Since Alan and David became involved with TPN, we have been able to make more use of current technology. So, if you click the blue YouTube link you can view the following promotional material:
- The Tilden House slide show
- Special Delivery – Toys to Andrew Nursery
- Tilden Project Nepal Aruchour Health Appeal Smokeless Stove Scheme:
Nicholas Arbuthnott first learned about us from the website when he was researching smokeless stoves; following his return from a trekking holiday in Nepal, he wanted to find a way to prevent Nepalese households from cooking on open fires in their home. After learning about the stoves we build and our experience in Aruchour, Nicholas and his wife, Vanessa Arbuthnott (Vanessa Arbuthnott Fabrics), asked if they could work with us. As a result of their input we have been able to finance a training course for new builders and extend our scheme into neighbouring villages Panchamol and Rapakot, where finished stoves already total almost 400. In Aruchour itself we have now reached a total of 700 and have replaced or repaired some of the earliest models. (Metal rods and other improvements have been included in the design as our work developed). In 2006 each stove cost £3.00 but now the cost has reached £5.50 – still a modest sum in relation to the potential health benefits.
Finance/Fundraising: TPN now has 2 ring fenced funds,
- The Tilden House and
- The Tilden Project Nepal Health Programme.
We hope to achieve lasting work for change with both these major projects, but do not wish to neglect our on-going core work. Thanks to input from Nicholas and Vanessa Arbuthnott (Vanessa Arbuthnott Fabrics) and from the Masons, the future of our work with smokeless stoves is assured.
We have also recently re-stocked all the school libraries. However, salaries for five nursery staff and one librarian have been increasing regularly and it is vital our level of pay remains equivalent to government pay scales. Three years ago we set out to achieve enough regular monthly donors to raise funds to cover these salaries. Many of you responded generously and continue to support us in this way. Nevertheless we face a shortfall of £2,000 for salaries in the current year. This shortfall is likely to increase rather than decrease.
Possible solutions: 10 coffee mornings raising £200 each would solve our problem for this year! 2 larger events raising £1,000 each would solve the problem for this year. 12 new regular donors giving £10 a month, plus 3 coffee mornings a year would solve it for several years to come! 16 new donors giving £10 each would solve it for several years to come. So for those of you who have in the past considered doing a fundraiser for us, opportunity knocks!
Please contact us, we’d love to hear from you if you would like to raise some funds for us or become a regular donor, please ring us or email us.
In conclusion: I hope this brief summary will be of interest to you. All the Trustees welcome contact from our supporters and we would be glad of your ideas, input and encouragement at any time. As I write, the TPN calendar for 2013 is being prepared and we hope to sell a great many of these to help build up our general funds. This year we have found a printer willing to donate his services to assist our charity, so we hope to be able to sell them at a low price but still raise a considerable sum. We also hope to inspire extended representation in as many Santa fun runs across the country in December this year! Please remember we value and appreciate all your support and hope you will continue to work with us to contribute to the development of Aruchour, an impoverished community in an often forgotten part of the third world.
Jan Revell (Chairperson)
FOOTNOTE: We took 70 kilos of toys for the nurseries as part of our luggage with us on this trip. India Airlines were accommodating with our luggage which totalled 120kgs. Then thanks to Yeti Airlines we flew the toys from Kathmandu to Pokhara with no extra charge (normal limit 20kg per passenger!) (see Special Delivery).
JUST TEXT GIVING: You can donate up to £10 to Tilden Project Nepal by text – simply text
TILD35 £10 to 70070