The way to Lele, a small village in the heart of the Kathmandu Valley, is difficult and long. From Kathmandu you take the public bus through dusty streets, past numerous small settlements and houses. The longer you drive, the greater the contrast to noisy and urban Kathmandu and you see more and more of the agricultural side of Nepal. Instead of noisy motor scooters and yelling vendors, one increasingly encounters cows, goats and people carrying huge amounts of groceries on their backs, heads or bicycles.
After about three hours we reach our stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the Nepalese hinterland. From here it's just under an hour's walk, over hill and dale, to the Shree Saraswoti Lower Secondary School. Already on the way to school we meet numerous students in their school uniforms, which are typical for Nepal. Together with the local aid organization Kumudini, PATOP supports the “Deepak Library” project, which aims to make it easier for the children of the school to access books and learning materials.
The library is nothing more than a small room adjacent to the five classrooms of the school, which is home to ~180 students. The previous library had to be cleared due to the devastating earthquake in spring 2015 and is in acute danger of collapsing. The books are provisionally in the staff room/kitchen/sick room, to which the students have had access several times a week since then. Aakriti, the student responsible for lending the books, proudly shows us the register and some of her favorite books. Despite the precarious situation since the earthquake, the older students organize reading groups for the younger children several times a month, giving them access to reading and literature. The school management is currently looking for donors for the restoration of the library.
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