Drenched at Donk
The day began dramatically as we woke to the sound of torrential monsoon rain and thunder followed by the regular fight for the Baltic shower. Initially delayed by an hour, our trek to Donk began at 11am sharp, (well that’s what my 49 rupee (60p) watch said!) The trek began with high spirits and song despite the unseasonal Himalayan weather’s attempt to thwart our enthusiasm. It seemed easy as our accompanying guide was Surender, the director of the charity which runs Donk and Kaplani schools, who is arguably the most inspirational man we have ever met. Although the beautiful landscape was at times distracting it realised the severity and reality of many of the children’s daily trek to school, and we think Translink buses are bad!
As wet and miserable as we were, the near sight of Donk Primary School returned our previous enthusiasm and reminded us all of the reason of what we were doing and for what purpose. Entering the school was as if we had arrived in 1935 via a De Lorean. Thomas Edison’s works played no part in Donk as electricity was nonexistent. The roof was plagued with holes, the floor was rough concrete and no glass was present in the windows. Literally the school consisted of two rooms, two teachers and no more than twenty pupils. However the teachers’ enthusiasm and love for the children demonstrated that it is not material, but mind that matters in life. The children found it difficult to hear us over the torrential rain banging on the corrugated iron roof but they were so keen to learn that the lesson went well anyway.
On our trek back we trudged through the heavy rain accompanied by small children – some as young as four years old – who unlike us had no coats and in spite of having had no lunch were far more capable of the walk than us. Not to forget their lack of shoes.
As we trekked back Stephen noticed a boy struggling to walk home. Noticing this he lifted him and nobly offered to carry him the remaining 4km home. This feat was made even more impressive by the fact that this was done up hill, whilst carrying teaching resources upon his back and cradling a young Indian child in his arms. Clark Kent watch out! During the homeward journey we came upon some familiar faces, shouts of greetings from the Kaplani pupils was the final motivation required for the final push.
The trek ended with lots of blood stains upon our trousers – leeches! The Indian children casually dealt with these blood suckers with stones, merely flicking them aside. Everyone except the mighty David Burch was “leeched” and let’s just say we definitely didn’t “merely flick them aside”!
Goodbye from Matthew and Stephen