In Nepal, schools resumed their sessions in August. But, in Lumbini, a group of children have dropped out of school, each with their own reasons – but each harbors a deep desire to learn.
On August 3rd, as part of the initiative to end dropout rates, dedicated Tzu Chi volunteers Sio Kee-Hong (蘇祈逢) and Huang Su Tao (黃嫊桃), along with local volunteer Krishna Kohar, accompanied the principal of Siddhartha Primary School, Altaf Husen Khan, to visit the homes of four students who had left school. Thanks to the volunteers' compassionate engagement, they understood the underlying reasons behind each student's decision.
Subsequently, the volunteers took the four children to a nearby town to have school uniforms tailored for them. Each child received two sets of uniforms and a pair of school shoes. Three are set to attend the seventh grade at Shree Karmahawa Secondary School, while one will continue in the sixth grade at Siddhartha Primary School.
Never Skip Classes Again
On August 9th, the volunteer's vehicle entered Pasintol village in Lumbini. Along the way, amidst lush rice paddies and dilapidated houses, many children in uniforms could be seen walking together to school, chatting and laughing. As they spotted Tzu Chi volunteers, they naturally joined their hands in prayer and enthusiastically greeted them with "Namasthe" (hello). The volunteers responded with waves and smiles.
Following the winding road, the volunteers arrived at the home of Ram Karn Pashi. Sio Kee-Hong, the deputy chief executive officer of the Tzu Chi Kuala Lumpur chapter, handed new uniforms and a school bag to Ram Karn Pashi, gently advising him to change after taking a bath.
Ram Karn Pashi, aged fifteen, is an only child. Due to his mother's passing and his father working away from home, he lives with his uncle's family. This situation has caused him to feel abandoned. Combined with his torn school uniform and bag, lack of repairs, and absence of proper shoes, he frequently skipped classes, so that he fell behind in his studies.
During the initial home visit on August 3rd, the volunteers found a Nepali-language book in his tattered backpack and asked Ram Karn Pashi to try reading from it. However, he could not read a single word. Aunt Jita Pashi, who was present, patiently encouraged him: "Don't skip classes anymore. Work hard and study diligently. Can you do it?" Ram Karn Pashi nodded with determination, promising to study diligently and aspiring to become a doctor in the future.
Shiv Shankar Pashi Can Go to School Now
Taking advantage of a break while Ram Karn Pashi changed clothes, the volunteers carefully turned onto a narrow and muddy path, avoiding potholes and the scattered dung of cows and sheep. They made their way to the home of Shiv Shankar Pashi. Tall and robust, he immediately put on the new uniform and grabbed the school bag handed to him by the volunteers.
He wanted to become a police officer and protect his country. He dropped out of school nearly a year and a half ago. His absence was mainly due to economic issues at home and the fact that neither he nor his parents had identification cards. In Nepal, it is required for students to have identification cards to continue their education from the seventh grade.
A fortunate turn of events occurred on July 31st when Shiv Shankar Pashi's family of five finally obtained their identification cards; this resolved an important hurdle. However, despite this, his family was still poor, and his parents were still unable to afford his education.
Understanding the situation, the volunteers promised to cover the basic expenses for Shiv Shankar Pashi's education, including tuition fees, school uniforms, and a school bag. This commitment eased the worries of his parents and overcame the obstacle to his education.
Dressed Smartly, Off to School
Finally, the volunteers reached Prakash Pashi's home, offering heartfelt gifts. The child was nervous and stunned, as he never expected the volunteers to resolve his dropout situation so quickly.
Previously, due to ill-fitting uniforms and palm-slapping by teachers, Prakash had abandoned his studies. Although his family wished he would study more, their three acres of fields required hands to sow seeds. But the harvest could not sustain a family of five, forcing his father to work elsewhere; so Prakash had to share the workload.
During the initial home visit, after interacting with the volunteers, Prakash's mother, Sabitra Pashi, expressed her agreement that "only education can change a child's future." She promised to let her son return to school, having him assist with farming only when extra help was needed on holidays.
Now, as she watched her son step out of the house, dressed in a neat uniform, polished shoes, and a new school bag, her eyes glistened with tears of pride and contentment.
"Previously, he lacked uniforms and school bags, so he didn't attend school. Seeing him return to campus fills me with happiness; the more he reads, the brighter his future will be," Sabitra earnestly shared her hopes for her child.
With heartfelt blessings, volunteers wish for Prakash to study diligently and fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor.
A Promise to End Dropout
Sio Kee-Hong spoke earnestly to the three children in their new uniforms: "Promise that you'll go to school every day and cherish these new clothes, shoes, and school bags, as they are gifts of love from Tzu Chi." He extended his hand to offer a handshake with the children, making a commitment together never to drop out again.
Led by the volunteers, the children arrived at Shree Karmahawa Secondary School. As they reached the school gate, Prakash Pashi accidentally stepped into the mud and dirtied his new shoes. He immediately took the tissue handed by the volunteer and carefully cleaned them; so he entered the campus with joy and gratitude.
The volunteers guided the children to the principal's office, hoping that he would emphasize the importance of attendance and care about their commitment to schooling. The school staff then ensured they had all the necessary materials for class before they entered the classroom.
"Study hard, and Tzu Chi will offer scholarships to those with good grades. There's a chance to pursue higher education at Tzu Chi University," Sio Kee-Hong conveyed this message to the classroom, urging all the children to value the opportunity to attend school. He emphasized that education was the key to overcoming poverty.
With their new uniforms, the three children brimmed with enthusiasm and made a pact with the volunteers never to drop out again. Education is the most powerful force that transforms poverty, and Tzu Chi's love has set them on the path to change their lives.
A Jing Si Aphorism says: “Love and gratitude can cleanse the afflictions in one's heart.”
Join Tzu Chi. Let us spread Great Love to the needy.