18 mars, Bol de riz, Ecole Jean XXIII...



15/11/2007 - Dear friends,


The pupils at the Jean XXIII school in Mulhouse held their 7th “bowl of rice” event today for the Paudwar school...



To refresh your memories: it all started during a trip to Nepal during Easter 2000. My nephew, Damien, who was 16 at the time, had come along.
We went through Paudwar, which is a village I had much admired due to the dynamism I had encountered there in 1985 when I was working with “Aide Medicale et Sanitaire”. My friend Makhan Poon had written to me about a hostel in Paudwar. Thinking we would be able to stay there, I turned up with my group, only to discover that "hostel" actually meant "boarding school"..
The headmaster of the school, Gyan Bahadur, kindly offered to put us up in the library. We were able to meet the teachers, drink rakshi and discuss the school’s financial situation at length. Unfortunately we had no teachers in our group, so I was hoping Damien would suggest twinning the Paudwar school with his own school....
Once back in France, a teacher at the Jean XXIII school, called Philippe Pierrel, invited me to speak to the 3rd and 5th year students about Nepal. I was delighted to accept. When a young pupil named Marion asked me at the end of my talk what she could do to help, I suggested writing to the pupils in Paudwar. A small group started writing regularly to the girls there.
In 2002 the same students, with the help of Mr Pierrel and other members of staff, organised a “bowl of rice” event. This consisted of a lunch of rice with a sauce and an apple and a variety of festive activities, all for 4 euros.
I made spicy tea with cardamom, ginger and cloves for 100-200 people and showed some photos of everyday Nepalese life and the Paudwar school’s projects.
This initial event was highly successful, partly due to a performance by a musician who played “singing bowls”. I took the 1225 euros collected from the event and various fundraising activities to Paudwar in September 2002. I was told all about the plans to build a new boarding school in Paudwar. The “copines” (friends) back in Mulhouse rose to the occasion. The boarding school was then built.


The school now has new expenses. The "copines" are now young women who are students or mothers. Some of them are members of the AFPN and are actively involved. The “bowl of rice” events continue annually


Today, Chantal and I headed down to Mulhouse, the car full up to the hilt with all our paraphernalia for the tea-making and objects for display. The students prepared the vast room while we set up our things.


At midday, the pupils arrived and the rice, cooked by Nicolas the school chef, was swiftly handed out and eaten up. We then served the tea, which was very popular due to its "exoticism".

I then showed the slide show of Nepalese life, including the difficulties for the villagers, such as the difficult terrain and the lack of running water and electricity, as well as the efforts made by the villagers to improve their standard of living.


The pupils from the 3rd form then had a series of improvisation matches, which they pulled off brilliantly.
Finally, the highlight of the day: a group of musicians from the school performed a pop-rock concert which was met with a warm reception and much applause. The bell rang at 1.45pm, bringing the event to an end.


We have since learnt from Gyan Bahadur that 3 classrooms were seriously damaged in the last monsoon and we are waiting for the go ahead from Tham Maya Poon, the new headmistress, in order to send the collected funds.


A big thank you to Philippe Pierrel and the other teachers of the school, as well as the pupils who actively participated on the day and shared their invigorating enthusiasm !




En espérant que vous allez bien,

bien amicalement,














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