The Work of a Monk

I found myself sitting in a brightly lit room, beautiful wood lined the meeting room. It was hard to believe that we were sitting at 3500 meters, in a remote community that required four days of trekking to arrive. The Shayla school is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, housing and educating over one hundred children from all across the valley.

Hot milk tea sat, steaming, in front of me. It was served to me by an eager Nepali— smiley and talkative. He was there to assist the quiet headmaster that sat beside him.

I quickly turned my attention to the quiet headmaster and asked him to share his story.

As a young child, the headmaster grew up in a village lower in the valley. A government teacher was hired to work in the small primary school located on the edge of his town. This teacher was being paid to teach but instead, sat in the school all day, not welcoming any of the local children in. Often this teacher would stay in the village for only a month before heading back to Kathmandu, leaving the school empty and the children without education. As a young boy, the headmaster observed this inconsistency and lack of involvement.

As a young boy, the headmaster eventually went to India and grew up as a monk. He never received an official education but was determined to not forsake the children of his village.

So he returned.

Upon returning, he built the school and it continued to expand. At first, many students were inconsistent, families irregularly sending their children to school or pulling them early to help with child care or fieldwork. There is a now a zero percent drop out rate, as it is required by parents to commit to send their children to live and attend school full time. A change that has made all the difference.

As the teacup now sat in front of me empty, and the conversation lulled, the headmaster quietly ended our time by saying, “I had to convince the parents that education was valuable. I had to fight for these kids, but it was worth it.”

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