Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grassroots Efforts Support Dreams

Mike Church and three of his friends at St. Mary's College of Maryland dreamed of a year long biking adventure traveling off the beaten tracks of Europe and Asia. They wanted to experience the people and cultures of the world from four feet off the ground.

Ujjwall Bhat dreamed of starting a school for the children in his rural village in Southwestern Nepal. His family had sacrificed so that he and his brother could be educated and learn English. Now he wanted to return this gift to others.

By accident these two young men met in January 2005.

Mike and his friends planned to scuba dive in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of India when the Tsunami hit. They reconfigured their plans and headed north, deciding to explore Nepal and hike the Annapurna Trek. The King of Nepal and the Maoist Rebels were in open conflict the day the boys road their bikes into Nepal. As luck would have it, Mike and his friends met Ujjwal and his brother riding their bikes along the road. They quickly engaged in discussions in English and agreed to go to Ujjwal's village to spend a couple of days in "a subtropical Eden" and in safety. Late into the night they discussed classic English literature which both sets of young men had read. They discussed the hopes for the future of Nepal and Ujjwal shared his dream of a school for his village - then offered free room and board if Mike and his friends would stay to teach English to the children.

The Americans could not stay but Mike and Ujjwal did not forget their encounter - nor their dreams.

Ujjwal continued to stay in contact. He did the preliminary planning and provided Mike with proposals for his school.

In May 2008, Mike married Ali Sharp and they decided to ask their wedding guests to help build a school in Nepal, in place of sending gifts. From this small donation of $2,500, Ujjwal was able to begin the "Mikey Medium English School" with 20 boys and 20 GIRLS. It is the only school for poor students in their village.

On a bare bones budget, Ujjwal built a two room school, obtained furniture, secured uniforms and hired two teachers. The school is open and running. Ujjwal takes no salary.

Elaine Boothby, Mike's English teacher from South River High School in Edgewater, MD has followed Mike's adventures. In 2009 she contacted Mike to find out how her students could support Mike's school as part of their Global Literacy Project. Since then South River students, other Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Rotary Clubs in the area have joined in to support the school in Nepal. Because caring citizens wanted to know how to help, Grassroots Education Nepal began.

Mike' parents, Barbara and John Church of Davidsonville, MD continued to personally provide essential funds to the school during 2009. In February 2010 they are venturing to Bauniyan, Kailali Nepal to teach and determine ongoing needs for funding.

Through efforts from many parts of our community - collectively and individually - we are changing the lives of children in rural Nepal -

1 comment:

  1. The email poped up in my google alerts. Frankly speaking i thought must be some crazy western hiking,(sorry).This time i was wrong.
    Mike thank you so much for the great idea, and providing and oppurtunity for Children in Nepal, with education. Helping Mr Ujwal to fulfill his dream. A dream many people see, but some with their determination and with help of people like you make it reality.
    Living in eastern part of Nepal, with the kind of work i do, its really sad, to open up your email account or go through the Newspaper, all you hear is hatred amongst eachother, and strikes. There is so much of negative enegry being flooted in Peoples mind and behaviour. News like this in my google, early in the day, makes me happy and inspires me.

    If there is a bank account available,i can donate, the best amount i can. I truly believe, that giving is what we should learn to do, learn to share the bit of more you have with people who dont. There is nothing to loose.

    Thank You once gain.