British Boys of Bridim

Two British teenagers are spending their time in a remote Nepali village for a good cause.

By Dinesh Wagle

You may think they should talk only about recent Hollywood flicks like Catch Me If You Can. They will do that too, because they have just finished reading the book on that title (they have no time to go to the theater and one of them says the story “is boring”). And when they start talking about providing good education to poor, you may think like “what these ‘kids’ are talking about?” But when you see what these teenagers are doing in a remote village of Rasuwa District to poor school children and their school, you won’t be surprised.

At the moment, James Gould (left) and Martin Baker, both 19, are busy helping upgrade the facilities in a public primary school in Kanjm, Bridim VDC. These guys first time came in Nepal in July 2001 as the members of World Challenge Organization Expedition, a school program that sends students of 16-18 year age group go to different countries to experience the local culture and tradition. They made a toilet in Rasuwa. On the way to the Gosaikunda trek, they came to know that their tour guide Dame Tamang was planning to open a school in Syabru Bensi, the starting point of popular Langtang trek. They promised him to help. After returning to England, they created “The Nepali and Welsh Joint Education Foundation” of which James is the Chairman and Martin is the treasurer, and started raising funds for the noble purpose.

Excited after receiving some money from various sources including prestigious Cardiff High School, both boys came back to Nuwakot three months ago. After talking with locals and evaluating the situation, they decided to add facilities in an already established government primary school then making a new one. “At least government school have buildings and they are already giving education to students”, says James. “Our principal is to work with government schools wherever possible.” Now, the Bridim Primary School, for the first time, has new good benches, a toilet is constructed on its premises, and children are provided with uniforms. There are 25 students and one teacher in the school currently. Both James and Martin volunteered as teachers for some weeks.

Foundation will spend Rs. One lakh 20 thousands in the next six months for setting up infrastructures including new books, papers, soaps and, after that, Rs. 2 lakhs every year. A local tibetan cultured teacher has been admitted in Rato Bangala School of Patan recently for training. The expenses for this training will be covered by the foundation. “It will be more easier for Tibetan cultured teacher to teach Tibetan students than to a Nepali cultured teacher,” says Martin. “It will be easier for students too because they learn more easily in their mother language.”

You may ask why these guys are spending their time in remote places like Bridim instead of going to visit some other beautiful places or doing some sort of adventure or entertainment? They have answer. “Education is the most important thing. We studied in good schools with good facilities. Here in Bridim we saw students are deprived of even basic necessities like desk, good books and toilet. So, we thought why not help these students?”

“Make a difference. Make it Permanent” is the motto of the foundation. “It suddenly came to my mind when I was drunk in one evening”, says a smiling James about the motto with an apparent shyness on his face. “We want this foundation to function even after our death”, adds Martin, emphasizing on the second part of the motto. Both are planning to go to university within next few weeks. “But we have to ensure that the foundation is run when we are busy in study”, he says. “After four years in the university, we will be more clever, more matured than we are now”, a thoughtful Martin says. If you are interest to contribute in these guys mission, email to James at gouldy87 at hotmail dot com.

Note: The edited version of this article was originally published in the Kathmandu Post daily.