Leaving the village
12.04.2016 - 12.04.2016 26 °C
To allow myself enough time for things to go wrong on my journey home, I decided to leave Kalabang after 3.5 weeks (out of the 4 weeks I’d originally scheduled), which meant that Tuesday was my last day at school and my last day in the village. Coincidentally, it also meant I was leaving on the last day of Nepali year 2072 – New Years Eve – the day the students were receiving their report cards.
After an improvised final class of reading fairy tales on the Kindle with Classes 6 and 7 (they looooove getting their hands on the eBook), we all gathered in the library for the end-of-year school assembly. Parents/guardians had been invited as well, so we had a full house. There were a couple of speeches, then starting with the little ones, results were read out in order of ranking, and the children were handed their final report with a blessing.
It took a while to get through all the students, and when we arrived at Class 5, I was whisked away for my school lunch. Most of the students I’ve worked with are in Classes 5-7, so I was a bit disappointed to miss the opportunity to applaud them as their achievements were recognised, but I managed to find out the highlights later in the day.
Unbeknownst to me, while I was having lunch, there was a change of scenery in the library. When I returned I discovered that we were having a Farewell Program for me! I still can’t believe all those children sat there, so well-behaved, the whole time. There were speeches, then I was garlanded and khata-d by the teachers, the students and the school management committee. Apart from a lovely letter of appreciation, I was also presented with a packet of freshly roasted coffee from the school’s coffee garden (no mistaking the delight on my face in that photo) and a little wooden plaque – a Token of Love from the school.
We all gathered outside for a big group photo, then the children and parents formed two lines leading to the school gate so that I could say goodbye to each person. I was given so many flowers I had to empty my hands a couple of times along the way.
Back at my homestay there was a smaller, private farewell from my extended Kalabang family. More khatas, some tears (not just mine) and a gift from my Nepali mum and aunt. Then Prakash and Samir joined me in the taxi to accompany me all the way to Pokhara. As we drove past the school, many of the teachers were still there at the gate waving a final goodbye.
Having so many villagers wishing me well and being so clearly grateful for what I’ve given over these past weeks, makes me think when they say they hope to see me again one day, that I seriously will think about it. I really can’t imagine never seeing these wonderful people again.