1. Great Compassion Boarding School: Summer school

    Informationen about our summer school in Lo-Manthang

    Winter 2018/2019 was very cold and exceptionally snowy in the former Kingdom of Mustang.

    Unfortunately, many animals that spent the winter in the Himalayas could not find enough food and also, could not be fed from the valley because the only road was closed for a long time. It is very sad, but hundreds of yaks, goats and sheep have died during that time.

    Our school has also suffered a lot of damage: the heavy snow has completely crushed the roof and damaged walls, floors, beams and furniture inside the building. Fortunately, no people were injured.


    However, the destruction is so immense that it will not be possible to run the school this summer - for the first time since it was founded in 2000.

    In consultation with the parents and only with their permission, the children stay in Pokhara all year round.

    Lama Ngawang will rebuild the school in Mustang as soon as possible and of course we support him where necessary and possible.

  2. Travelogue

    At the end of January our president Elisabeth Erne and our managing director Bettina Wälti travelled together to Pokhara. They spent a lot of time at the Great Compassion Boarding School in Sedibagar and also in the dormitory.

    „It was nice to see how well the teachers, the housemothers, the kitchen staff, the gardener and the bus driver work together and how warmly they treat the children. We had a very good feeling about the whole team. The children are a bunch of unrestrained energy, but at the same time they are loving and cordial.


    We were able to talk a lot with our main teacher Samit Shakya and the other teachers as well. We took note of their wishes in regard to improvements and we will make sure that we can support them as well as possible. They are the backbone of our school and we appreciate their work very much.


    We also visited FEWA Boarding School, Tal Barahi School as well as SOS school, where our students from class 6 go to. All schools are run with enthusiasm and seriousness. We are very satisfied with having chosen these schools and are convinced that they will continue to educate our children in our best interest.


    On the second last day of our visit Lama Ngawang organized a big event for parents, children, employees, friends and representatives from other schools. There was a lot of dancing, singing, lots of speeches and much to eat and drink. For us it was nice to meet the parents again and say thank you to them as well. Last but not least, we used this opportunity to thank Lama Ngawang for his almost 20 years of commitment to the children of the Himalayas. The obvious is often forgotten, so this was very important to us.“

  3. From a birthday party to new beds

    Mr. Georges Raemy is a long-time supporter of our foundation and of our schools. As a school headmaster, he is familiar with school operation and knows about the daily struggles of a school.

    This is his report about his visit at Great Compassion Boarding School in Pokhara in July 2017.

    After two years, I travelled back to Pokhara, accompanied by a good colleague, James Regli from Zug.


    This year in February, I was lucky enough to celebrate a special birthday. Instead of gifts I asked my family and friends to make a donation to Great Compassion Boarding School.

    Soon afterwards I got in touch with Mr. Rijal and he talked to Lama Ngawang and Himayala’s Children. It was jointly decided to use the money on new beds for Lo-Manthang.

    When we got there, we had exactly one week to organize everything … a true challenge in Nepali terms!

    The school director Mr. Rijal was with us during this week and it was thanks to him that we got an insight look in the school administration. His competence, calm behavior and persistence impressed us deeply.

    On our first afternoon, the three of us went to meet with the locksmith. He had bought all necessary metal beforehand and knew what he was to build for us. As per agreement, the beds were supposed to be finished by then, but he was still working on the model bed …

    Mr. Rijal asked he locksmith very patiently why only one bed has been made so far. We still don’t know the answer to that. And so we checked the prototype and told him a few suggestions for improvement. He then promised to start with the remaining 35 beds immediately.

    After three days we went back to check. No bed had been finished so far, but all metal pieces were cut and ready for assembling.

    We left the shop with a clear warning from Mr. Rijal, that we were expecting to see some progress of the construction before we left three days later.


    On our last day, some metal pieces had been welded after all. Small progress. The locksmith promised to finish all beds within the next week.

    We also went to talk to a mattress seller and a carpenter. Both purchase negotiations were tough, but went accordingly to our wishes.
    It was quite interesting to watch how calm and stress-free people are dealing with each other here: they welcome each other, chatter, start negotiating, discuss prices, agree and then seal the deal with a cup of tea.

    Visit at school and hostel

    At GCBS Sedibagar in Pokhara, 25 orphans, their care-takers and the kitchen crew live under one roof at the moment.
    The children had much fun using the playground I built in 2015. Everybody was happy and laughing a lot.

    After a typical vegetarian school lunch, which tasted as good as always, we were shown around the school buildings. Thanks to the new retaining wall behind the main building, moisture and pressure from the hill are more or less a thing from the past.


    At SOS school, we were invited to attend three different classes.

    The first graders sang several songs with all their might and gave us some handicrafts. First, they were rather shy to give us their gifts, but after just a little while they gained confidence and didn’t want to return to their seats at the end.


    In class 3 we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves. The kids listened closely to what we had to say and soon started to ask questions. They wanted to know about the capital of Switzerland, the highest mountain, the names of our family members, Swiss products and so on. 

    With help of an atlas and a whiteboard we were able to explain most of it. Time flew quickly and we had to leave before their lesson continued.


    In class 6 the children showed a lot of respect and restraint. They used their study time to finish their school assignments.

    Hostel for senior students


    At my visit two years ago, the hostel was just about finished. Now it contained a lot of life inside.

    My sponsored child Dhanu Buddha waited for me at the door and welcomed us with khatas.


    The responsible Lama for the hostel, Khenpo Tashi, showed us into the office. Heavy, but beautiful furniture filled the room and it was a splendor to see.

    After drinking some tea, we were shown around the boy’s part of the building. The rooms were very clean and tidy. On the top floor, there’s a library/prayer room with a wonderful Buddha statue. The room has a unique calmness and contemplation. It is used for a daily morning prayer with all students.


    Later in the afternoon all students meet in the dining room to study. After a short unrest, everybody focused on their homework. This situation reminded me a lot of my own teacher training back in the days.


    We were, once again, confronted with the inner calmness, that had been accompanying us throughout our entire trip in Nepal.

  4. Presentation by Lama Ngawang at Sport Conrad in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

    At Hans Conrad’s invitation, Lama Ngawang, Elisabeth Erne and Bettina Wälti took the train and rode to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany on December 8th, 2016.

    The Sport Conrad team has been supporting Himalaya’s Children for many years and we soon realized, that they put all their heart into their work and that all family members as well as employees stand 100 percent behind the support for our foundation.


    Lama Ngawang had the opportunity to introduce our school as well as our project “Orphan Education Program”. With his friendly and humorous nature, Lama Ngawang connected quickly with the audience and was able to pass on many important issues.


    Afterwards it was Michi Markewitsch’s turn to tell all about this trekking in Nepal, accentuated with impressive pictures and original audio.

    The audience was very attentive and obviously enjoyed the tales by Lama Ngawang and Michi Markewitsch. During the following reception, many used the chance to talk to Lama Ngwang and also to Elisabeth Erne and Bettina Wälti.


    Later on, the money from the donation boxes was more than generously rounded up by Sport Conrad.

    These are the kind of moments in which we gather our strength to keep on working for the wellbeing of the children of the Himalayas.

    From the bottom of our hearts: Thank you.

  5. Presentation by Lama Ngawang at "farfalle di luce" in Milan

    In October and December 2016, Micaela Vannucchi, president of the foundation “farfalle di luce” in Milan, Italy, invited Lama Ngawang, Elisabeth Erne and Bettina Wälti to Milan, in order to tell their members about our engagement in Nepal.

    Most of all, Micaela and her friends were interested in our “Orphan Education Program”, as “farfalle di luce” supports many children-related projects all over the world.


    Our presentation was translated into Italian and Micaela skillfully led through the evening.

    The members of “farfalle di luce” were generally very interested and found our holistic approach of our scholastic as well as socially integrative education very appealing.

    Even though “farfalle di luce” supports many projects already, at the end of these events we were given a very generous donation, which will directly go into our “Orphan Education Program”.

    The very personal encounters were very enriching and we would like to profoundly thank “farfalle di luce” for their constant support.

  6. Ceremonial Opening of the hostel in Pokhara

    After a building period of almost three years, the new GCBS hostel was officially inaugurated on February 2nd, 2016. Quite the celebration!

    The hostel was once again being cleaned inside out and hung with colorful flags and chain of lights.


    It was a huge honor have his holiness Sakya Trinzin commit to the inauguration. His holiness was given a very warm welcome by everybody from GCBS and the many family members and friends of the students and the school, who made the strenuous trip from Mustang just to share this moment.


    Right after his arrival, HH Sakya Trinzin cut through the ribbon of opened the hostel.


    The festive company then made their way up to the forth floor, where the future library and study was splendidly ornamented for the inauguration.


    With the children being the reason for this festivities, it was as a matter of course that Lama Ngawang wanted to include the pupils of Great Compassion Boarding School on this historic day.


    Following the opening ceremony, the big party for students, pupils, families, teachers and all the guests invited was about to start.

    The students from Great Compassion Boarding School were, of course, also included in these festivities and were allowed to wear their most beautiful traditional dresses.


    There was a lot of dancing, eating, laughing and partying.


    It was the most wonderful celebration and everybody will have very fond memories of this day.

    And now the students of classes 8 and higher are very much looking forward to living in their new home.

  7. Projects at GCBS: Challenging and rewarding

    Mr Georges Raemy is a long-time supporter of our foundation and of our schools. As a school headmaster he is familiar with school operation and knows about the daily struggles of a school.

    This is his report about the projects with Great Compassion Boarding School in Pokhara.

    In connection with my long-time training as headmaster I was able to spent almost four weeks in Pokhara this fall. During that time we worked on four different projects at GCBS and also, I have had the time to visit the SOS schools.

    To finance the projects I started to ask around and my wife asked her friends to donate money instead of getting her a birthday present. We were both very happy with the outcome of our efforts.

    My next step then was to discuss possible projects with the principal of GCBS, Mr Rijal. He then talked to Lama Ngawang and I was given a list with seven projects of which I choose four.

    My main concern was building a playground for the younger students. I drew a detailed sketch of each of the four playground apparatus and took this to a locksmith. I had to explain each apparatus in details so that he could name the price. We agreed upon it with a handshake.

    To make sure everything was well underway, Mr Rijal and I visited him almost every day. Usually, a job like this takes around 10 weeks to finish in Nepal, but we didn’t have that amount of time. And the daily power outage didn’t help either. Despite everything, three weeks later the work was done.

    Now we had to ready the building site, dig holes and mix cement. The locksmith brought all the parts over to GCBS and with the help of Mr Tashi, Mr Rijal, the cook, some students and myself, we built the new playground.


    The last job was to paint it and we managed this as well. After just three days the entire playground and two small football goals were set up and ready to be given to the students.


    The second project was to build four metal benches. Two benches for the onlookers at the basketball court and two for anybody who would like to sit down and read a book or have a chat. Again, I made some sketches and passed them on to the locksmith.

    Project number three was about organizing four whiteboards. The old wall panels in some of the classrooms were unusable anymore because of the water exposure from the walls. A local carpenter was given the job to build the new boards.


    Since time was running out, I had to hand over the last project to the headmaster. Some bricklaying needs to be done to repair earthquake damage from this spring. Mr Rijal will supervise the work and update me on the progress.

    Last but not least I would like to summarize how I have experienced manual labor and craftsmanship in Nepal.

    With an idea in your head and some sketches with dimensions you go to a local manufacturer and talk to him in great length. You will need a translator, of course, but the language of pictures is universal.

    As soon as the workman understands your concern, he will let you know so with great joy.

    Then it’s time to talk about everything and nothing before you will get back to the main issue again. Without any written calculations a price will be set. And it will be rejected by the customer. So you will start discussing the numbers, staying very polite but determined.

    You will, however, reach an agreement and everybody will be very happy. It’s sealed with a handshake and followed by tea. The whole procedure takes about 1.5 hours.

    Also, for all my projects, I have made an advance payment of 15 percent in order to cover the initial material cost.

    It was wonderful to accomplish something meaningful for the youngsters at GCBS and I don’t mind saying that I’m somewhat proud of what we achieved.

  8. An inside look at the SOS schools

    Mr Georges Raemy is a long-time supporter of our foundation and of our schools. As a school headmaster he is familiar with school operation and knows about the daily struggles of a school.

    This is his report about his visits at SOS schools in Pokhara in fall 2015.

    GCBS students from 4th to 13th grades are attending SOS schools. This is what I experienced while visiting SOS.

First I was welcomed by the school management. They explained to me that it is very important to exceed as a school altogether: the grades from the final exams will be published and there is a school ranking throughout Nepal. Understandably so, this ranking is very important to each school.

    I was able to attend two classes. The language of instruction was English and the content seemed rather challenging. Each teacher assigned homework for the respective subject. This could mean that a student would have homework to do for another 3 to 4 hours.

    The next day I attended elementary school classes 1st to 7th grade. To start the day, the pupils lined up on the school playground in orderly fashion.


    Then everyone sang the Nepalese and the Tibetan national anthem followed by a religious Buddhist song. Only then class began.

    The most common form of teaching is the teacher being in front of the class. If a student wanted to know or ask something, she or he just went ahead and talked.


    I later learned that this was a didactic measure encouraged by the teachers. Important findings are repeated out loud by the whole class, or read aloud together. After each lesson the teacher changes, just as they do as in the higher classes. Again, the teachers assigns homework, but not to the extent of secondary school.

    The language of eduction was about 85 percent in English and 15 percent in Nepali. The children seemed interested enough. Their understanding of English is very good and they are well capable of following the lessons. On the other hand they are struggling with talking English.

    For the the last lesson a chess and carambola championship was held.


    All the students who had lost a game had to watch, but they so with great wonder. If someone won a game, the gym teacher called out the winner – and this was followed by a very loud cheer! A bit hit.

    I was asked by the headmaster if I would mind giving a short speech to the students the next day. And if I could talk to the teachers and give them my opinion about what a good teacher is made of. I was more than happy to accept this “challenge”.


    After my speeches I was rewarded with a friendly Asian cheer. The headmaster seemed to have liked my thoughts particularly, because he called two days later and thanked me once again for my contribution.

  9. Enlightenment through knowledge

    Yungga, Class: VI, Great Compassion Boarding School


    Importance of SMILE…

    Show SMILE to mother,
    she will HUG you more.
    Show SMILE to father,
    he will CARE you more.
    Show SMILE to teacher,
    he/she will realize your RESPECT and LOVE.
    Show SMILE to na enemy or person who doesn’t like you,
    POSITIVE THINKING will develop in him/her.
    Show SMILE to friends,

    So, always show SMILE to everyone in your life,
    it will give message of PEACE and MUTUAL RESPECT.

  10. School lessons between tradition and modernism

    Benita Zekaj, Member of the Board, tells wich languages are being taught at the Great Compassion Boarding School and how parts of the Tibetan traditions are preserved . 

    At Great Compassion Boarding School three different languages are being taught: the native language Nepali, Tibetan and English. Tibetan is important in the sense that many children come from Mustang and Dolpo, which are Tibetan characterized areas. At other schools, unfortunately, the Tibetan language is not being taught.

    In addition to the two local languages, English is being nurtured starting from kindergarten. In Nepal, it is very important to speak the global language English, since the tourism sector is growing continuously.


    In addition to those three languages, mathematics, science, sociology and music are being trained.

    Music plays a very important role at GCBS. Dancing and singing are essential parts of Tibetan culture and GCBS is determined to preserve these traditions. And so every opportunity for the children to dance and sing is being used. The students particularly like their indigenous dances, because they are allowed to wear the beautiful traditional costumes.

  11. The Alumni's Great Compassion

    A dormitory is more than just a roof over one’s head: Young volunteer Fabio Keller about his experiences with close quarters and a great hospitality.

    In the heart of Pokhara the former students of GCBS are provided with a shared house. Here they can reside while attending the local secondary school to pursue their onward schooling.

    In 2013, when I had the chance to spend a few nights there the circumstances were tight to tenuous. Thanks to donations this situation has changed and a second dormitory has been built.


    The hospitality, moral and solidarity amongst the students has little resemblance with our local and chaotic shared flat student housings. The day I arrived that summer I was instantly invited for tea and given my own room. 

    Even though the other 15 students shared 2,5 rooms amongst themselves and hardly had any private space, they gave me my very own room. Even the living room got rearranged so they could make space for three more residents. In between more people and limited space the guest room stayed mine for sole use.

    Obviously I started to feel bad about being treated like a king. I was very thankful but really wanted someone else to share the room with me. I kept asking for a roommate as I thought it unfair of me to have so much space. Looking back, my request was a bit absurd I guess. After much persuasion on my side, I was at least able to buy a few bottles of Coca Cola for all of us on my last night to express my thankfulness in some way. A desperate act really, but there was just no other way for me to return the favor.


    We had a lot in common – the universal 21st century globalization of our youth spans across the whole planet.

    Nonetheless – two cultures collided; you could even say two civilizations. We all stand close to each other through music and clothes. Indie rock, electro, slim jeans and sneakers show a global alikeness amongst us young ones. But these things seem very superficial bearing in mind the cultural imprint of our own four walls going 10 000 miles deeper.

    The young people today tend to forget where we all come from. We like to think of ourselves as emancipated and always working for a higher cause. While staying at the dormitory in Pokhara, I was shown a mirror reflecting how much of our character is defined by your own roots.

    But it was great to see that you do not have to be the same to come together. Just like the saying goes: «Our differences unite us!»

  12. There is a lot going on at Great Compassion Boarding School

    Some highly motivated volunteers were very busy in the past few weeks at GCBS in Pokhara.

    With the help of the volunteers, it was possible to tackle two major and long overdue tasks.

    One was the renovation and redesign of the Kindergarten at GCBS: the old carpet was replaced and with a new coat of paint, the walls appear fresh and clean.

    The helpers were particularly creative with their colorful design of cartoon illustrations: Mickey Mouse is in the house!

    These illustrations together with all the letters of the alphabet and numeric tables on the walls provide an attractive and happy learning environment to the youngest children at GCBS.

    The second task was to convert the former headmaster office into a library. The many books on the campus needed to be sorted and stacked onto the shelves. And so, yet another great educational and recreational activity could be introduced to all the students.


    Without the help of our young and driven volunteers who dedicate their time and passion, we just couldn’t do so much good at Great Compassion Boarding School. Thank you!

  13. Christmas for Western visitors

    Benita Zekaj, Member of the Board, tells how she experienced last year’s Christmas at the Great Compassion Boarding School. 

    The tree is decorated. The dances are prepared and gifts are ready. By all means, it is Christmas!

    The children of Great Compassion Boarding School are mostly Buddhist and Hindu. Nonetheless, every year Christmas is organised for godparents, volunteers and other visitors.

    On December 25, students do not have to attend classes and thus are able to prepare the Christmas party. Dances and songs are being rehearsed for the evening show. Those who don’t dance or sing take care of the music or decorate the tree. The children are happy and looking forward to the evening, when they may, among other things, enjoy a delicious dinner.

    After everything is arranged and all guest have taken his or her seats, the celebration starts with a speech by a student. Guests and children are being welcomed and wishes for a Merry Christmas go out to everyone.

    Now the dance shows by various groups are starting. From dance moves to Rap music to Nepalese folk dance – there’s something for everyone! The children and guests alike are delighted with the great performances. After the last show, all guests receive a small gift.

    Everybody takes the cheerful mood to dinner and enjoys the very tasty food to the full. Later in the evening, the kids go to bed with a full stomach and lots of wonderful memories.

    I was lucky to attend such Christmas party with three other guests last year and even though it was different than celebrating at home, it was one of the most wonderful Christmases I have ever had. As a gift we got beautiful drawings and they keep reminding me of this very special holiday at GCBS.

  14. In the West, Christmas is coming – in Nepal, everyone preparing for Saraswati Puja

    Saraswati Puja is one of the most important holidays in Nepal and is celebrated with great fervour in January. The holiday is held in honour of the birthday of the most popular Hindu goddess Saraswati. Saraswati is the Hindu deity of learning, music and purity.

    During the festivities, people celebrate the fertility of the Goddess and the arrival of spring. They do so with flowers, candies, fruit and much happiness. Saraswati Puja brings Nepalese of all castes, persuasions and beliefs together in a warm bond of joy, religious faith and ebullience.

    It is also a tradition to gather in a temple and worship statues of Saraswati.

    At schools and colleges, images of the goddess are put up and different cultural programs and processions are being held.

    Furthermore, Saraswati Puja is the day for students to worship their pens and books in order to ask the Goddess for them to become wise and knowledgeable and may their schooling make them educated people. This day reminds the students of the true value of education.

  15. Me and my parents

    The student Tsewang Gurung attends the ninth class of Great Compassion Boarding School. In a school essay, he describes the relationship with his parents and how it changes in the course of life.

  16. Sam Dzong – a village is relocating

    The fatal consequences of global warming: Why a whole village must abandon it`s homeland.

    The Nepalese village Sam Dzong located in the former Kingdom of Mustang, north of the Himalaya, has lost its basis of life due to rapidly changing climate and weather conditions. There is not enough water anymore not only to cover the daily need for humans and animals, but also to irrigate the fields. So far, the people lived in harmony with nature and farmed using traditional methods. For a better future, they are now forced to resettle the entire village.

    © Manuel Bauer

    In their distress the people of Sam Dzong asked Lama Ngawang for help. Lama Ngawang turned to the former King of Mustang requesting to grant the people of Sam Dzong a new piece of land. The King responded to this request and now the whole village with 85 people and 18 houses has to be relocated.  Previously, they have to cultivate the piece of land, because it is full of head-high erratic blocks and thus uninhabitable. 

    Manuel Bauer, a Swiss photographer and Himalaya expert, who became known by his photos of the Dalai Lama, decided to support the relocation and the inhabitants together with Lama Ngawang. He wanted to help and collected donations in Switzerland for the clearance operations and the transport of timber. He managed to mobilize considerable allowance and material assistance.

    © Manuel Bauer

    The Foundation Himalayas Children was asked as well to serve as a platform for the humanitarian project “Sam Dzong”.  After careful analysis of the project, the Board of the Foundation decided to help. Hence, the Foundation obtained  - according to the Swiss law  - the necessary permissions from the Swiss Foundation Overview Board in Bern.

    Due to the urgency of relocation the Sam Dzong village, for which Lama Ngawang is mainly in charge, he decided not to engage in more events in Europe this year.The relocation in Sam Dzong will be completed in 2015.

    © Manuel Bauer

    In order to draw attention to global warming, Manuel Bauer launched a photo project, for which he accompanies the relocation, the construction of the village, its induction as well as the cultivation of new fields. For this project he received the «Greenpeace Photo Award» in 2014.

    His impressive images and further information about this unique project can be found on http://samdzong.org/.

  17. Nepal’s flag

    Find out why the Nepalese flag is one of a kind! 

    If you are Swiss, you are certainly familiar with non conventional flags.

    All regional (state) flags are square and so is the Swiss national flag.

    Except for the Vatican and the Principality of Liechtenstein, there are no countries with the same layout.  Usually, flags are rectangle. So to be square is definitely not “mainstream”. However, the true “hipster” among the nations of the world, in terms of the flag, is Nepal.  

    The Nepalese is the only flag with more than four corners and it originated from a mixture of Nepalese coziness and Swiss compromise. Originally, two pennants have been sewed together and as a result declared as national flag.

    The aerodynamics of the “patchworkflag” is indisputably … let’s say, not perfect. And even if the sight of the flag moving in the wind warms the heart of a patriot or two, the movement itself is not very majestic.

    Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is beautiful and the uniqueness makes it even more interesting. The blue fringe symbolizes peace, the carmine red is the national color of Nepal. Crescent and sun combined on top and the sun below represent hope that Nepal may be as eternal as the heavenly bodies.

    Since 1768, the Union is rebellious like an island surrounded by armed, conflict-ridden and colonized areas, similar to Switzerland back then. So let’s hope for Nepal not being a supernova (stellar explosion before fading from view) and for it being able to celebrate the 700th “birthday” as the Switzerland of Asia.

  18. The journey continues …

    Our volunteer Mario Schnitzler tells more about his experiences in Nepal.

    When holidays started, most of the students travelled to their parents in Mustang. I, of course, stayed at school, accompanied by a small group of children, some of whom were waiting for the results of their exams.

    The rest of the students staying at school were children from the adjoining region of “Dolpa” in Mustang, which is long and rough journey away.

    So during holidays I took some of the remaining pupils onto different trips like going to the museum, to the cinema or to the Penguin swimming pool, where I went with the “Dolpalis” (children from Dolpa).

    Some students were closer to me than others, simply because they were looking for emotional bonding. During their holidays I was particularly close to the “Dolpalis”, as I was the only adult around apart from the cooks. We spent a lot of time during this one month together.

    At the beginning, I worked a lot with Mr. Rijal and Prakash for the school magazine and later on I was given duties such as overlooking the restoration of the basketball court and the “clinic room”. In between jobs I also had a lot of fun with the kids though. Like one evening when we held a secret movie night at the dining hall during our usual power failure because it was powered by an energy storage device.

    With some of the students I often played “Bhag chal” (more or less translated into “Tiger Hunt”, a traditional Nepalese board game), and sometimes we just sat around and talked.

    I also had a very friendly relationship with the teachers and they were always helpful. I often spoke about common problems with Mr. Rijal and Samit and we exchanged our point of views about students and talked intensively about “anything and everything”.

    Towards the end of my visit in Nepal, kind of dream came true. I got the chance to travel with Lama Ngawang and a fellow passenger Yvonne to Lo-Monthang in Mustang, homeland of most of the students, to visit school there.

    I learned about a whole new culture, one I previously knew only from pictures and lively stories by students. The school schedule was quite different, as the circumstances of the district are very different from those around the school in Pokhara. It felt like being in country far away from Nepal.

    It was particularly nice for me to experience the people there and by chance to meet by mothers, fathers and other relatives of the students.

    On a hike outside of Lo-Monthang, in search of a hot spring, I met a group of three girls who accompanied me on the way back. During our conversation it turned out that one of the girls was the sister of Tashi, one of the SOS-students. It was like finding an important puzzle piece that’s being missing to know and understand the students.

    When I returned to Pokhara, yet another volunteer from Switzerland had arrived. Carmela and I finished the project “clinic room”.

    Then, after 145 days at GCBS it was time to say goodbye. It was very hard for me to say goodbye to all the people whom meant so much.

    In the meantime I have arrived home and a certain daily routine has returned. However, there is this huge “thing” that I have been given, a truly irreplaceable experience. Many thanks!

    Last but not least I would like to say thanks to the GCBS family with all the students, the teachers, the administration, Lama Ngawang and of course Himalaya’s Children and particularly Elizabeth Erne.

  19. 145 days full of experiences

    Our volunteer Mario Schnitzler tells about his time at the “Great Compassion Boarding School”.

    Hi, my name is Mario Schnitzler and I’m 21 years old.

    Last January to June I was given the chance to visit GCBS in Pokhara. It was my first trip to Nepal and to be honest, neither did I know what to expect, nor did I anticipate that some of the most wonderful memories were waiting for me. 

    After my arrival I was warmly welcomed and felt like I belonged right from the start. Soon some boys began to ask all sorts of questions and told me all about Nepal, religion, football or school, and over time great and interesting conversation emerged.

    The girls were shyer and even after a month I was asked what my name was by a giggling group of teenagers. After a while, however, the general shyness disappeared and I became more and more a part of the family.

    Sira, the other volunteer who had arrived a month earlier, helped me find my way around and explained a lot of things to me. Together we started to teach English in classes U.K.G to 3, which could be very exhausting sometimes, but were very rewarding nonetheless (even though Nepalese children are not always well-behaved).

    Sira and I had to elaborate our own systems on how to organise our lessons. In the Western system, school lessons are built differently and so we had to adjust in order to according to what the students are used to in Nepal. Also, we had no experience in teaching apart from what we knew from our own time as students.

    The relationships with the students grew strong up to a point where I developed brotherly and sisterly feelings from them. Sira and I even put the youngest children to bed and made ​​sure, that their teeth were cleaned – and so after a while we definitely became more than teachers.

    After Sira had left at the end of February, I kept teaching for while longer. Besides everyday school life, the school also organises short trips, i.e. on “Sonam Losar” (the Tibetan New Year) or a “dental camp”. 

    Come back next week for part two of Mario’s adventures in Nepal.

  20. The peace of Pokhara

    Our voluntary staff member Fabio Keller tells us about a special place of peace. An insiders’ tip in the middle of the nature.  

    In 1947, the Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fuji from Japan had a simple, but wonderful idea: after World War II and a meeting with Mahatma Gandhi, he was inspired by the fundamental idea of non-violence and began the construction of a “World Peace Pagoda” in Hiroshima. The idea spread to all continents and so far about 100 Pagodas have been built, all similar looking in white, as a token of hope for world peace.

    Opposite Great Compassion Boarding School in Pokhara, high above Phewa Lake, lies one of these Pagodas. The one-hour hike to the top is more than worthwhile. The Pagoda itself and the views of the Annapurna and, of course, the GCBS, are breathtaking. 

    However, you could argue about the need for a Peace Pagoda in Pokhara. The city itself sometimes seems like a guardian of peace, particularly whilst sitting at the lakefront with Annapurna in the back and an “Everest” drink in your hand.