The entire school was eager to meet us, so we made a point of visiting each of the tiny, cold classrooms. With saucer-eyes, they drank in everything we said. We played games, swapped stories, listened to them sing and watched long and intricate dances.
“We teach them about their appearance, good dress sense. Most don’t know where Jodhpur is, or even that they live in Rajasthan. Their lives are simply this: get up, brew tea for Dad, do the dishes, clean the house, cook lunch, sleep, clean the household, make dinner, go to bed. Every single day of their lives. They have no weekends, no holidays. They are married at 15, and then have the exact same life with a husband who probably rapes and certainly beats them.” This is the account of one man’s mission to ’empower’ disadvantaged women from Rajasthan, in a superb write-up by Liz that is packed with first-hand accounts, facts, sad stories and, ultimately, the positive action of the Sambhali Trust.
The second part of our Newport Primary School feature, where we answer the questions put to us by Mrs Savill’s class. Also in this post is the video clip we showed the children of Newport Primary, to help give them an idea of life in the Himalayan foothills.
We take a break from our travelling and return to Newport Primary School, more specifically Class 5 who we visited last week. We showed video clips of our time in the Himalayas and we talked about life on the sea. We were there to start a cultural exchange programme between the students of Newport and the students at Magno Vale Academy, a school set up by the MondoChallenge Foundation. The project is being coordinated by Class 5’s teacher Jude Savill, MondoChallenge representative Amy Pettipher, and ourselves. More on MondoChallenge later, in the meantime we just had to print and reply to these wonderful letters. Here are the first three:
With Liz being short-listed for another writing competition this week we thought we’d start off our Rajasthan series with one of her latest entries, which we’ve also made available for the iPad and Kindle. Beautifully written, this pulls together a number of themes set in Jaipur, Jodpur and Agra (Taj Mahal), the classic traveller trail called The Golden Triangle. The central story, however, concentrates on a remarkable man we met whilst in Jaipur whose quest to empower women from the lowest castes affected us deeply. Setting the scene for the next few blog posts this is moving, brutal yet ultimately uplifting. It is, in my opinion, Liz’s best non-fiction writing to date.
Liz and I have just spent a truly inspiring day darting between three schools in the Himalayan mountains. We met some wonderful children from very poor backgrounds who are all learning English (we’re trying to ‘twin’ one class with a school in Newport via our friend, Jude, but more on that in another blog post). Just take a look at this cheeky little chappie from Class Six at Magna Vale School, Sukhia Pokri, Darjeeling. Just adorable!
By the end of the weekend the grand total raised was $1500, which went to the Turkish national charity, Ozel Olimyatlar, which helps young people with learning disabilities to take part in organised Olympic sports (see the yellow box for more information on the charity). Proof that whilst we swan around in our expensive yachts, living an enviable and carefree lifestyle, some of us can still show a bit of humility and compassion.