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Christmas Newsletter – 2006

Posted by on September 26, 2012

Dear Friends,

Autumn is giving way to winter in Kathmandu once again, as leaves brown and fall and frost gathers on early morning grass. The Nepalese people are working very hard to bring peace to their country and our thoughts are always with them. We hope this year's Christmas Newsletter finds all of you well, wherever you are in the world.

In its seventh school year, the focus of the TWS school community is with its parents. TWS is working to strengthen relationships with its parent community. The faculty continues to hold regular parents meetings to deepen the parents understanding of Waldorf education. The goal is to educate parents about how the school curriculum supports their children's well balanced development, so that parents will keep their children enrolled at the school especially as the children transition from kindergarten to primary school. The TWS staff and their children are very connected to the school, with 4 children having graduated and 7 children currently attending.

In the Kindergartens, the children made various basic crafts, beadwork and artwork; paper flowers, butterflies and kites were constructed, candle were decorated with beeswax, and leaf boats fashioned from Pipal tree leaves were assembled in lieu of Dasain and Tihar. In Class 1, the students have learned to read and write the Nepali Devnagari alphabet and basic Nepali passages. They have also learned addition, subtraction and division. In addition, Class 1 has knitted wool water bottle bags and coin purses. Class 2 students are studying the Buddha's life story, and went on an excursion to Namo Buddha, a famous temple in the hills near to the town of Dhulikhel . At Namo Buddha, the Buddha came across a starving tigress and her cubs, and fed them with his own flesh. In Class 3 the children are learning about different people and their occupations. They were able to observe some of these occupations firsthand on a field trip to Patan and Bhaktapur, two nearby towns known for their artisans. Class 3 also completed their housebuilding project, constructing a new rat-proof rabbit and guinea pig hutch.

The Tashi Waldorf School community observed Dashain and Tihar in September and October, respectively. The students also celebrated the monsoon season and its heavy rains by participating in traditional rice and vegetable planting in TWS' back field. During Dashain, the primary classes study the story of Ram, Sita and Rawan, from the Ramayana, and through it learn the meaning of Good and Evil. For the Dashain festivities, the students made and flew kites in the playground. Kite-flying is a favorite activity for children during Dashain. Kite flyers often compete to see whose kite can stay afloat the longest. The students had Dashain pujas (ceremonies) in their classrooms, making offerings, lighting incense and singing ritual songs. Afterwards all students and staff convened in the school hall to watch a puppet show by the kindergarten teachers, and singing and dancing performances by the primary school classes. Later, everyone shared a sumptuous meal, with chicken curry, rice, lentils, spiced vegetables, laddhus (milk-based sweets), and special cucumber achhar (spicy Nepali pickles) made by the primary students.

Tihar was celebrated a few weeks later with a delicious feast of spiced chicken, rice, lentils, achhar, curried vegetables, laddhus and sel-roti (Nepali style deep fried doughnuts). Before the meal, the school community gathered in the hall where a display of Tihar offerings had been assembled. The offering table was decorated with marigold malas (garlands), pomelos, streamers, laddhus, red tikka powder (used for blessings) in a leaf bowl, bells and framed portraits of the Hindu deities Ganesh, Saraswati and Laxmi. To begin the Tihar puja, a candle and an incense stick were lit at the offering table, and everyone joined in to sing the Tihar “Candle Song.” Next, Durga, one of the kindergarten teachers, struck the singing bowl and taught, through story and song, the audience about the meaning and traditions of Tihar, which include lighting lamps for Laxmi Puja on the first night of Tihar, and giving gifts and tikka to siblings on Bhai-tikka, the final day of Tihar. Durga told the story “Balirajah” (“Kindhearted Rajah”), about a sister who saves her Maharajah brother from demons of the underworld. The story illustrates the importance of sibling relationships, central to the spiritual meaning of Tihar. Pujas to honor Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, were then performed, with everyone singing “Om Jaya Laxmi Mata” (“Hail to Mother Laxmi”) and putting tikkas and marigold malas on Laxmi's picture. Finally, laddhus, marigold petals and tikkas were given to all. Following this, the school community headed to the playground to decorate the playhouse, light lamps around it, and make a multi-colored mandala of tikka powder in front to welcome Laxmi. The students had prepared by making decorative colored paper chains and beeswax adorned candle. All in all, Tihar was a joyous and auspicious way to end the second quarter.

Chandra Tamang, a kindergarten teacher, has been leading the kindergarten faculty in the study of Understanding Young Children's Play, from handouts, lessons and research that she has written and assembled. She has coached them on translation of cultural stories for use in puppet shows, as well as how to construct puppets and present puppet shows. Over the past several months the group has presented two puppet shows, “Punte” (“Twiggy”) and “Durga Bhawani & Mysasore” for the children. Chandra also leads weekly study group for the faculty and staff. The group is currently reading and discussing Rudolf Steiner's The Education of the Child.

In early October, Nima, who is teaching Class 2 this year, participated in a two-week Waldorf Primary School Teacher Training Seminar at Tridaksha Primary School in Bangkok . Nima attends this seminar twice a year as part of her distance learning program to become a Waldorf Primary School Teacher. Help with funding for Nima's training is needed, as the airfare to Thailand has recently increased quite a bit. In July, kindergarten teachers Roshni and Kamala undertook a five day study visit to Bina's Kita Keti Preschool. Bina Gurung is one of the TWS trustees and founder of the Kita Keti Preschool.

In May and June we welcomed the following people to the school community: Aruna Rai is a class teacher trainee, participating in in-house teacher training and substitute teaching; Manju Chaudhary is a kindergarten assistant in Kamala's kindergarten. In May Sheema Thapa joined the school's team of cooks. Laxmi Limbu volunteered in the nursery as an assistant before being hired in December, 2005. Lobsang Choedon was also hired as a kindergarten assistant last December. In June Rinzin Chomphel began working as an office assistant. Rinzin is being sponsored to work at TWS by Ricky Bernstein of Hands-in-Outreach. Thank you to Ricky for his most thoughtful sponsorship.

On the medical side, TWS students had their vision checked by the Seva Foundation in September. In November TWS primary students attended a dental camp, sponsored and conducted by the Himalayan Dental Relief Project. According to the dentists volunteering there, TWS students had the best teeth out of all of the students they worked with. Thank you to Seva, the Dental Relief Project, and of course the school doctor and trustee, Dr. Dipendra Sharma, for their invaluable services.

For many years TWS has been working closely with the ISIS Foundation. This summer ISIS rescued yet more children from a children's home in Kathmandu that was so poorly maintained that it was raided by the police. The many helpless children at this home were forcibly kept in a tiny room with little to no sanitation, and fed only a handful of boiled rice each day. In addition, they were not given any medical care, and their health and spirits suffered greatly. ISIS placed two of these children at the ISIS Girls' Children's Home in nearby Dhapasi, where they now live with approximately 10 other children. As soon as possible, ISIS enrolled them in the TWS kindergarten, and they are currently being sponsored. Both girls arrived at the school showing terrible signs of mistreatment; their bodies were thin, weak, and covered in open sores. They were quiet and reserved, with dim, sunken eyes and sad faces. After five months at TWS, they have noticeably begun to heal – both girls can be seen laughing and playing with their classmates in the playground, happily making watercolor paintings and bead necklaces in the classroom, animatedly talking to their teachers, and enjoying their healthy snacks and lunches each school day. We are delighted at how quickly and remarkably they are recovering. We thank ISIS for giving these children a safe, nurturing and loving place to come home to each day.

Tashi Waldorf School is in the process of registering as a trust with the Nepalese government. We are hoping to be able to complete this process by the end of 2006, but we cannot guarantee a registration date, as we must depend on the government to first finish revising its trust laws. The initial step towards registering as a trust was to assemble the ten trustees we introduced you to in the last newsletter. The TWS faculty has been holding meetings with the trustees so that they can learn more about TWS and Waldorf Education, and deepen their connection with the school, in preparation for officially becoming Tashi Waldorf Trustees.

The school website, www.childrenofnepal.org , has been updated. Two new sections, Children's Corner, and Online Photostory, have been added. Updates have also been made to the staff and curriculum sections. We hope you will (re)visit us on the web and we welcome any comments and suggestions for the site.

As of November, 19 children need sponsors out of a student body of 106 (and a capacity of 115). In June we had 40 children in need of sponsorship and are thankful to have found sponsors for 21 new students. We would like to express our gratitude to all child sponsors, and welcome our new sponsors to the community. We also wish to thank all those sponsors who renewed their sponsorship with a new child after their previously sponsored child left or graduated from TWS. Thank you so much for your kindness, patience and generosity.

In order to purchase the school's property, a land sponsorship program has been created. So far the land sponsorship program has three sponsors. We need many more sponsors in order to successfully buy the school's land. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about the land sponsorship program, please contact us.

Tashi Waldorf School sends a huge THANK YOU! to Donna Boyle and Carol Wilson from Northern Ireland for raising 5,000 Euros to be put toward the land purchase fund. They raised this money by organizing a hike to Mt. Errigal and holding a band festival. Almost 50 signed up for the mountain hike on Errigal, one of Ireland 's tallest mountains. This event, held in Summer 2005, raised nearly 2,500 Euros. At Christmas of the same year Donna and Carol held a band festival where 5 local and national bands performed.  The festival was a huge success with over 300 people attending, and raised a further 2,500 Euros.

In order for TWS to expand into a full primary school, plans have been made to add two classrooms for Classes 4 and 5 that will be ready in May, 2008. $16,000 for the construction, furnishing and equipping of these classrooms needs to be raised by next autumn. Grant applications for the project have been submitted, but funding is not yet in place.

We are planning to produce a short documentary film about TWS so that we may more effectively share the work of the school with people around the world. Kesang Tseten, a TWS trustee, is an experienced documentary filmmaker and he has kindly agreed to be a volunteer consultant on the project. We also plan to publish a booklet about the work of the school, once it becomes a trust. The booklet has already been assembled, and we are in contact with a local publisher. We will send details about how to obtain it in a future newsletter.

The sale of Nepalese handicrafts in support of the school is thriving. We extend our appreciation to our volunteer handicraft sellers, Barbara Bartzch, Brigitta Fuchs, Jayne Ferri, Renate Wolfrum and Barbara Maclaren, as well our newest volunteer seller, Angela Werner, and all buyers, for your generosity and hard work helping to support TWS. We would like to send a special thank you to Barbara Bartzch, who raised $11,000 USD in 2006 for the school and will now take a break for a while.

We would like to thank the visitors and donors from Waldorf schools around the world this year bringing and sending much needed Waldorf art supplies. Many thanks to Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten and Nursery, Gunilla Pritzel, Angela Werner and Friedel-Eder-Schule, and the Mansfield Steiner School .
Tashi Waldorf School warmly thanks all of you for your fabulous help and support over the past year. The TWS community wishes you and your loved ones a joyous Holiday Season! We will be in touch again soon in the summer.

With sincere gratitude and kind wishes for the holiday season,
Rachel Amtzis

You can help:

  1. Please send a donation to our funding associations as listed below and on our website, www.childrenofnepal.org, and have a visit to the site.
  2. Sponsor a child for $25 USD or $50 USD a month.
  3. Sponsor the purchase of the school’s land for $18 USD a month.
  4. Sponsor a TWS teacher for her Waldorf education training seminars in Bangkok, Thailand.
  5. Tell your friends about TWS and encourage them to make a contribution.
  6. Publish this newsletter in your school, organization, or community newsletter, and link to www.childrenofnepal.org on your website.
  7. Volunteer to sell pashmina products or jewelry to support the continued operation of TWS.
  8. If you are traveling to Nepal let us know and we would be delighted to have you visit.

RSF Social Finance
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: "Children of Nepal"
1002A O'Reilly Ave.
San Francisco,
CA 94129-1101 USA
Tel: 415.561.3900, 1.888.RSF.3737
Email: mail@rsfsocialfinance.org
RSF Social Finance also accepts donations made via other means, including credit cards. For more information, please visit their website:

Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiner e.V.
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: “Children of Nepal – Project # 4405”
Weinmeisterstr. 16
Berlin, D-10178, Germany
Tel: 030 61 70 26 30,
Email: berlin@freunde-waldorf.de

Internationaal Hulpfonds
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: “Children of Nepal”
Herengracht 276,
1016BX, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS
Tel: 020- 6274856
Email: info@internationaalhulpfonds.nl

King’s School Worcester Nepal Trust
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: "Children of Nepal"
c/o John Walton
King’s School, Worcester
England, WR1 2LL, U.K
Tel: 01905 350065
Email: j_walton2@hotmail.com

Waldorf School Association of Ontario
Please write in the memo portion of the cheque: “Children of Nepal”
9100 Bathurst Street, No. 2
Thornhill, Ontario, L4J 8C7, Canada
Tel: 905 889 2066
Email: manager@waldorf.ca

Prometheus Ethical Finance
Please write "Children of Nepal - Account#4144" in the memo.
P.O. Box 969
Telephone 06.835.7138
Fax 06-8351628
Email: ethical@prometheus.co.nz