REFLECTIONS ON OUR TRIP TO NEPAL 2019

As we celebrate the 20 year partnership between the Jesuits of Nepal and JMB Educational Fund, my overriding feeling is the enormous respect I have for the Jesuit Fathers at St Xavier, Godavari, the teachers in their schools and colleges, the parents and students and other staff who have raised student numbers from a modest 58 boys only when I first visited SXG led, in 1960, by the amazing Fr Moran to 11,600 students (total in Nepal) with close on 50% girls and 50% boys today.   This growth is simply incredible and I congratulate and admire this incredible achievement.    The quality of the selfless leadership of all the Jesuit Principals and teachers has been extraordinary.

Similarly, the recovery from the August 2015 Earthquake has also been a fantastic achievement.   SXG and the other affected schools were back in business within six weeks of the disaster, and on our visit we saw excellent progress being made with their rebuilding, particularly the new Academic Block, Bravo!

Another enormous accolade at SXG has been the start-up of two new school years, namely, Year 11 and Year 12, and although there are many more subjects to come on board, the benefits are to future generations who will be able to progress from School to University without the need to trek, bus or cycle into Kathmandu for these two important years.

In rememberance of my lovely wife Diana who died two years ago.

For me and many others, the most touching event of our trip this year, which Fiona and Fr. Samuel proposed and set up was the creation of “The Diana Memorial Student Award” which honours the wonderful contribution of my late wife to the hear and spirit of our charity, founded in 1999, focusing particularly on sponsored students who were struggling at this high quality school from one thing or another.

SXG will select, annually one student who will have given his/her time for social service in school and in the community by volunteering to help others and emergency services.   Fr. Samuel, the Principal and advisers will make the selection, purchase the trophy, medal and certificate and organise a present for the student winner, (probably a book), and present them.   JMB Charity will contribute the funds The recipient of the first ever student award this year was Manish with whom our team spent many hours and thought her an excellent choice.

John meeting Manish

On a personal note, I could not think of a more appropriate gesture to remember Diana and remind people of her love for our sponsored students and her big contribution to the fund.

Our three visits to sponsored student homes

We were warmly welcomed, but it was soon apparent that two of the houses were grieving and their homes were badly damaged following the Earthquake in 2015.

Both complained about the promised but unfulfilled Government Compensation which has meant huge difficulties for them.

I was deeply saddened that these people had only received a tiny amount of the figures that had been promised.    It was not possible to go into the details, but when you recall that the UK was one of the most generous countries in the World to help Nepal and that money hasn’t reached all the people it should have done.

I raised this briefly with a former British Ambassador at a British Nepal meeting at the Nepalese Embassy a month ago and despite efforts to resolve this problem, little or no progress appears to have been made.

I suggested that this gross injustice should be discussed with Fr. Samuel who may be able to throw some light on this truly awful problem.

I am optimistic of a solution to this highly political injustice, but firstly I wonder how extensive this issue is, and how many of our student’s families are suffering as a result.

Inside a sponsored students home

Reflections from John

And lastly, a few thank yous for all the hospitality and friendship our team received during our visit this year.

  • Thank you to Fr Amrit the Regional Superior for your time and the great evening during which you explained your priorities for the future.
  • Many thanks to Fr. Samuel for the many things you did and agreed with Louise to make our visit so enjoyable and productive.
  • Thank you Fr. Mathew, Superior Principal SXJ, and a long-standing friend. It was a great opportunity to catch-up, many thanks for the delightful evening you hosted.
  • Thank you Fr. Jiju, Principal, SXC, your progress is amazing and the supper was most enjoyable.
  • Thank you Mr. Subarma, KC Deputy Principal SXG, it was a pleasure meeting you.
  • Thank you Mrs Bandhari, for the super meal you and your daughter gave us, and the opportunity of catching up with the excellent progress Rastra is making with his studies
  • Thank you Fr. Bill Robbins for the super climb you and I made to the Marble Quarry and the opportunity of really good conversation. (now closed for environmental reasons).
  • Thank you Shrijin Armatya, Teacher and President of the Alumni organisation. Hope you make progress with the fund raising plan we discussed.
  • Lots of thanks to Pratyga, Manish, Ratan and others who were always at hand to help us during the days and the evenings.
  • And, also of course a huge thank you Louise leading the trip and thanks to June and Izzy for their support in making this visit to all the schools, colleges and students very, very special.

John and Father Bill preparing for their walk

Warm regards

John Brown