Most schools in the Upper Dolpo teach to grade 5 or 6 but Karang school will start teaching grade 7 in 2023. It is the only school that teaches to that level. Children must move to Kathmandu to continue their education. Each village has a hostel in Kathmandu where students live and study with other children from their village. They live at the hostel until they graduate. They will not see their parents until they complete grade 10, the basic level in Nepal. Most of the parents are illiterate, and they dream of their children succeeding in school.
We are the primary sponsors of both the Karang School and the Karang Hostel. Initially, students from Karang moved into the Namdo village hostel. When it was full, Pema Gojor, the project coordinator for the school in Karang, established a hostel for Karang students.
Without this hostel, it would have been the end of their dreams of an education. Most of the Dolpopa children forced to abandon their education marry early, and have children when they are barely past childhood themselves. A few enter a monastery.
The first year there were 6 students, this year there are 16. The number of students at the hostel is expected to increase to about 25 until it reaches equilibrium with students graduating and those entering.
Image credit: David R. Gluns
We are the principal sponsor of this hostel. AMTM – Assistance Médicale Toit du Monde and Schulverein Lo-Manthang also provided generous assistance.
In 2021 the hostel moved into a larger space to accommodate more students. You can read about it in our newsletter. The hostel manager is looking for an even larger space.
“It was the first time I came to Kathmandu it was very hard and strange. I stay with my friends from same village at hostel, that make me so happy.”
Passang, Grade 7
Some of the students are the first from their village to continue their education beyond grade 5. Sonam and Tsering are from Nyisal, a village of about 40 households, to the north of Karang.
Their school in Kathmandu, Kailash Bodhi Secondary Boarding School, has about 900 students, 5 times the population of their entire village.
It is a Tibetan school that provides “groups with a Tibetan cultural background in Nepal with an education opportunity which will preserve their traditional culture.”
photo credit – Pema Wangchuk Lama, manager Karang Hostel
“When I first started school was very hard. I felt different from everyone. I was much older than the other grade 5 students. The teachers spoke English and Nepali and I could not understand them. They scolded me because I lacked basic skills. I have improved a lot.”
— Sonam, grade 8
The hostel manager helps the students be successful at their new school
Visiting Pema and the kids at the hostel
Pema Wangchuk, the hostel manager, is also from Karang. He helps the kids transition from their world of subsistence farming and herding to modern life in the city. Most are behind in their education due to a late start, or to gaps in their studies because of the time they needed to spend working to help their families survive. He helps them prepare for their new school’s entrance exams. And he teaches them how to be safe in the city. Most have never seen a car.
Many struggle at first, and they are too shy to ask for help from their teachers. Pema encourages them to participate in the class, he meets with the school administrators to educate them about the village kids and he asks teachers to offer extra support, and to seat them with children from similar villages, until they feel comfortable in their new world.
Between his help, their determination to succeed, and their incredible work ethic, many are soon the top students in their class.
“Our hostel manager, Pema sir, taught us many things. With more new ideas I started to dream different things, started to comprehend many things. I feel very lucky because I got all these opportunities. I am very grateful for everyone who supported me and I want to become a good person and serve back, thank you!”
— Tsering, grade 9
Thank you to a kind and generous supporter, David Powell
We have a dedicated supporter who has helped with beds and bedding, personal storage closets, and educational materials etc. Last year he funded a small ‘computer lab’ equipped with desktop computers, functional furniture, and a printer, to help in their more advanced school courses.
Image credit: Pema Wangchuk Lama, manager Karang Hostel
“I like computer science subject and I always hoping to use one myself. I have seen computers on book back in Dolpo and then at school we share with friends. The day when we got these computers at hostel became my favourite day. Thank you!”
— Sonam, grade 9
“Sleeping on bed is great pleasure that makes me warm and dream sweet as always. Before beds we sleep on floor on mats. I dream of becoming a geologist as best way of helping my village.”
— Sonam, Grade 9
“It makes us comfortable to discuss our work together and I use this bed for sleeping as well as sitting to complete homework. I dream of becoming an engineer related to arts and design. I want to draw historical story to keep Dolpo culture history for our village and teach my villagers deeply about education.”
— Nyima, Grade 9
Image credit: David R. Gluns
“I like keep my dress in closet because it keeps my clothes clean and safe. We used to keep in plastic bags.”
— Phurba, Grade 8
Image credit: David R. Gluns
“With education, I can do something. I can change something, I can change my village. I know the world doesn’t move without education. I am saying thank you so much for help in my education!”
In 2019 I did a photoshoot of the children in the Komang and Karang hostels. You can see their beautiful smiles in this gallery.