Fear and Hope

May 31, 2021

Sometimes, our sorrows are so deep that we cannot put them into words. We can only resort to silence and allow ourselves to fully see it for what it is.
 
Nepal has gone through so much in the last several weeks. Apart from the catastrophic numbers of sick and the dead, there are no words to define the extent of human suffering: trauma, loss, and grief.
 
Many within our Teach For Nepal community felt sick, lost someone that was close to their heart, and suffered from the constant fear that our loved ones might not make it through this deathly wave.
 
In the darkness that engulfs us, it seems we are still far from the break of the dawn.
 
Amidst all this, our students are battling another layer of fear. It is not just the present that they fear but the entire future that might be lost to them because of this situation.
 
“Time is running out," says Asha. She is currently in grade eight. Her father’s hotel in a tourist town of Pokhara has now been shut for two years. The financial situation of the family is rapidly worsening.
 
“I have to be able to complete my schooling in the next two years so that when I am 16, I can start supporting my family,” says Asha. “My younger sister will also move to higher secondary school soon and parents cannot afford to have both me and my younger sister at school.”
 
It is not uncommon for one of the siblings to give up education so that the younger ones can continue.
 
Asha is worried that with desperate times, her aspirations for higher education might be cut short.
 
Schools had hardly opened for 6 months after the first wave before being forced to shut down again.
 
Khem and Sophi are 10th-grade students, who are waiting for their final board exams. These board exams are like gateways for determining a student's future. The grade determines their access to what faculty of study they can pursue. It also determines their access to scholarships and college entrances.
 
The school has hardly had a chance to complete all the curriculum. Students are left on their own to study.
 
“But we don’t have access to old question banks or other learning resources”, says Sophi who is worried about her grades.
 
The extent of our education inequity is such that the majority of our students in rural communities don’t just lack access to technology, but also don’t have access to basic reference books or worksheets.
 
“The tests are centrally designed and we’ve not completed our courses,” says Khem who is worried that the government will suddenly announce the board exams and the test will cover topics that they’ve not had a chance to cover in their classes. Khem wants to score within the range of A+ to B+. But his hopes are starting to look grimmer.
 
“I don’t want to be just promoted to 11th standard without going through the 10th-grade exams,” says Sophie. How embarrassing would it be to be in 11th standard and realizing that we’re missing the foundational concepts we should’ve mastered in the 10th, add Sophie referring to how last year all 10th graders were given provisional grades and promoted without examination.
 
As we wait out for this wave to be over, we continue to come together and just connect as humans in these times where all our fears seem monstrous and hope - like a young sampling standing against the storm.
 
Within our small Teach For Nepal community, that’s what we’ve been doing. We rush to support in ways we can, we pray for each other, and we feel the depth of each other’s sadness and we join in their silence; silently.

Nevertheless, we also know that it is in the darkest hours that we have to prepare for the dawn.

Our Training and Support team is carrying out our online Learning Institute to prepare the next cohort of Fellows to continue this movement amidst all adversities. Our teams are preparing different resources like workbooks, and audiovisual low-tech resources that we can get to our students so that they can access learning and wellbeing tools.
 
Our biggest warriors are our students who are reaching out to our Fellows through phone or social media to ask questions and seek support to continue their learning. They have assumed their agency to support their peers and access whatever resources that are available to them to continue to keep learning and stay motivated.
 
The recruitment team is revisiting their recruitment strategy to get more youth leaders to take up the responsibility to end educational inequity so that the next time there is another health crisis or political or economic crisis, the poor and marginalized are NOT left powerless and without resources to fend for themselves.
 
We may have found ourselves in silence, but we have not lost hope.
 
We are grateful for your love, support, and prayers at this time.

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Contact Information

"TFN House"
PO BOX 3739
140 Chitra Marga, Kantipath
Jamal, Kathmandu, Nepal

+977-1-4240105

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