Mukot Himal Basic School, Tiling
Tiling is a village of 192 people between Saldang and Karang. It is downhill from Karang, closer to the bottom of the river valley. This school is struggling, with parents who can barely feed their families stepping up to feed the teachers and help with their wages. We first funded this school in 2019 when they lost their primary sponsor, a Rimpoche in the Nyisal area. In 2021, we became their primary sponsor. We are increasing our amount to $10,000.
Building the school
Tiling’s school was established in 2005 but it lacked the funding necessary to function. In 2008, Yonten Gyatso, a Tiling native educated in Kathmandu, returned home to help his village as head teacher and school manager. His wish was that the children in the Dolpo would have a quality education. He and the concerned parents relentlessly submitted applications to the government for help, and finally, in 2013, they responded with the equivalent of $1000USD to begin construction of 3 classrooms and a toilet.
It’s a small school of about 30 kids, nursery to class 3. Students are taught the national curriculum of Nepal, as well as their Tibetan language, history and culture and basic Buddhist philosophy. The people of the Dolpo are committed to preserving their local culture and ancient traditions.
After students graduate from grade three, they go to the school in Karang. The walk from Tiling to Karang takes these kids about half an hour. The little ones are too young for this walk. Having a small school in the village lets them start school at an earlier age, and improves the odds that they will continue their education beyond elementary school.
The school does not have tables in the classrooms. Or heat or electricity.
There are individual ‘desks’ to be had.
Three students graduated from Tiling School and are attending Karang School this year. Once they complete grade 5 at Karang School, they must move to the Karang Hostel in Kathmandu if they wish to continue their education.
One Student’s Story
Sonam is 10 years old and her family is very poor. She has four siblings. Her father was the head lama of the village but he died when she was very young and her mother is struggling to provide for the family. Sonam is in first grade and her favorite subject is science. She loves helping others and her dream is to become a nurse. When she is not at school, she helps her mom with household chores, and with collecting sticks and yak dung to help cook their meals and to stay warm.
Often the older children are needed at home to help with household and agricultural/herding chores. The school runs winter classes for the older kids, and for adults who never had the opportunity to go to school. Yonten, the school coordinator, really encourages the villagers to send the kids to school so they don’t get behind on their studies.
The Winter Class
The current winter class has students ages 13 thru 50. It runs for four months, Nov 15 – Mar 15, and gives adults and older children, who must work in the fields the rest of the year, an opportunity to learn to read and write in Tibetan, Nepali and English. Basic numeracy skills are also taught.
The Story of an Adult Student
Bomchok is 23 years old. She cares for her mother, and for her one-year-old child. Bomchok is eager to learn to read and to write, and attends the winter class every year. Her teacher, Yonten, says she studies hard and does well in her exams! She is very grateful for the opportunity to learn, and dearly wishes she could study in the spring and summer classes but she has to work long hours in the fields or her family will go hungry.
The Story of 2 Parents
Dorje Dolma/Yak Girl’s sister and her husband and children live in Tiling. Four of their children now attend the school. After losing 3 children they are not only dedicated to getting their kids an education but they actively encourage other parents in the village to send their children to school too. They believe that education is their chance to survive in their changing world!
Chunzombuty always brings dairy products to the school and helps prepare the meals for the students and teachers since the school does not have a cook. Many parents have helped with school lunches by bringing dairy products, and fresh greens from their fields in the summer.
Chunzombuty, in centre, Yonten, the school coordinator on right
Urgen, in centre, wearing a red hat
Urgen is Chunzombuty’s husband. He never received an education and he is determined that all of the children in his village will be educated! He is always ready to help with whatever is needed at the school, especially with construction and repair work. He often transports extra supplies for the school when he goes to Dunai or China on trading trips with his yaks. And his brother-in-law, Dawa, who owns mules, helps transport supplies from Kathmandu to Dolpo. Their dedication to the school encourages other parents to send their kids to school.
Students gather yak dung on Saturdays. It is used to cook the lunches.
The Solar Cooker
Pema Wangchen is working to install solar cookers throughout the Dolpo. On a sunny day the cooker can boil a 5L kettle in 28 minutes. Beans can be can be cooked in an hour.
They help lessen local environmental degradation by cutting the need for the small herbs and shrubs that are also used for cooking by 40-50%. Cutting the small bushes and shrubs from the pastures and hilltops threatens the Dolpo with further desertification and is contributing to the severe erosion being caused by the increasingly heavy rains.
Climate Change and the School
In 2020 extremely heavy summer monsoons caused severe flooding and erosion. Half of the school’s outdoor compound was lost and several classrooms were damaged. The villagers are very concerned because the rain and flooding is worse every year. This year they lost three precious horses to the flood.
The Nepali Times notes that, ‘Nepal is in the top ten countries in the world most at risk of climate change, even though its carbon footprint is among the lowest in the world’. The increasingly severe and unpredictable weather is a growing threat to this high altitude desert. Heavy rain was once unknown here. It is severely damaging their traditional buildings that are made of pounded clay and stones that are collected from the hillsides. There are no trees here and wood is prohibitively expensive.
Climate change is also bringing torrential hailstorms that flatten their fields. When the stems of unripe barley and buckwheat are broken they cannot be harvested and people and animals go hungry.
Medical Care in Tiling
Medical care is a scarce resource here and many people die of what should be preventable or easily treated diseases and/or injuries. Dolma Choekyi was born in Tiling and went to school in Karang and completed her nursing studies in Kathmandu. She is the Health Assistant at the Karang Health Post and is responsible for the health care needs of several villages, Chungtser, Lhuri, Nyisal, Mowa, Kiwa.