Beauty, curse and hope

By: Johnny Baltzersen, CICED

The following text is a warm-up for a beautiful four-minute cinematic flyover of Helambu, which forms the background for an introduction to CICED’s project Better Life – Educating and Keeping Children Safe. You can skip the warm-up and go straight to the video 

When you draw lines blindly

‘You know, Johnny, our beauty is also our curse’. The beauty and the curse was aimed at Nepal.

This dry observation came from a Nepalese colleague when we first went on a field trip together back in 1996, when I had the great privilege of coordinating the Danish technical assistance to Nepal’s education sector.

More than a few times I had commented on the beauty of the country as we wound along in the four-wheel drive, surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas and sparkling blue rivers framed by generations of diligence in subduing the hillsides into picturesque terraces.

It is, if not impossible, then damn expensive to build any kind of modern infrastructure in such topographical conditions. Nepal is the second poorest country in Asia. Second only to Afghanistan.

And if you don’t understand the terms and conditions, it’s easy to go wrong.

Back in the 90s, one of the major donors to the Basic and Primary Education Program, which DANIDA was also a partner in, had funded the establishment of resource centers for teachers around Nepal. These centers were located in so-called clusters. Each center would facilitate up to 20 schools in an area.

The centers were located at a convenient walking distance from the schools. That is, if you took a compass and marked walking distances with a radius of up to 15-20 km on a regular map!

Which, apparently, they had done. Bloody stupid. At least in the hill and mountain regions of Nepal, where it could take up to several days to walk from school to the resource center. Not many teachers showed up on Friday.

Helambu – uncontrollably beautiful and with a curse turned into hope

The Helambu area north of Kathmandu is also uncontrollably beautiful in all its demanding topography.

Traditions of what we nowadays call trafficking, along with the devastating earthquake of 2015, are among the additional curses that CICED is supporting the JUST Nepal Foundation and local authorities to overcome.

The Better Life – Educating and Keeping Children Safer projectis just getting up to speed in the wake of the corona lockdown.

We have borrowed a filmic flyover intended for tourism promotion for Helambu, and Rita Tisdall, CICED’s project coordinator, has written and narrated an introduction to the project.

Join the flightand who knows. Maybe you can join us on a real trip to Helambu when the time comes.

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