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Photo of the day: Ulleri village school

Monday, July 16, 2012

This is a classroom in the mountain village of Ulleri, Nepal, a small town on the Annapurna circuit.  The school consists of one low building with a couple classrooms like this for the local kids.  The homes in this part of Nepal are spread out in clusters all over the mountain sides, and many of these clusters will share one school, so often the kids have to walk 1-2 hours up and down mountain trails to get to school.  There are fewer schools as the kids get older, so while most kids can attend elementary school, access to a high school may be difficult.

Across from this school is a small library.  The room was colorful and had lots of writing supplies donated by hikers (they have a great little sign in town encouraging trekkers like us to take the 2-minute walk to see the school and library) but had a limited book selection.  We made a financial donation and promised to buy them some books, which we did as soon as we were back in the main city of Pokhara.  The only problem is that now someone from the village has to pick up the books – a one-day walk plus long bus ride away, each way.  And if you came all the way down from the village to the main city, I don’t know that your priority would be to carry back books, in lieu of food and health supplies.

This got us thinking: if every person who hiked the Annapurna circuit brought along 2-3 books for these schools, they would be fully stocked and have access to so many more books!  We recommended this to the tour office at our hotel, where we booked our guide for the hike.

“Can you suggest to future trekkers that they bring along a book or two for schools along the trail?”

“No, we don’t like to tell people what to do. If they want to do that, fine, but we will not tell them.”

The problem is, I think many hikers (like us) have no clue just how remote these villages are and just how few supplies and educational resources they have.  It’s not like they have access to a paved road and we tourists are using the scenic route.  There is only one way into and out of these villages: on foot, on miles of steep, rocky trails.

Years ago I read a really inspiring article entitled “Microsoft exec delivers books on yak” about a man who left his corporate lifestyle to start a non-profit delivering books to remote schools in Nepal.  I’d love to do something similar, but using the tourists already hiking this route as the yaks.  Maybe it could be called “Books on foot” — what do you think?  If you were traveling in a remote area and knew you could easily bring supplies that would greatly help the locals whose villages you are passing through, would you?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, August 24, 2012 8:58 pm

    Just wonderful photography. Love this!

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