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Developments in South Asia

A short update from a partner in South Asia.

A question for you: How do you know you’ve survived another summer?

Answer: You start getting out your winter clothes, and read in the paper that the day time maximum temperature is now under 40 degrees!

As I started writing this I was just back from meetings in the big city, including two day training on the unlikely topic of governance. The full board of a Bible College attended, so hopefully this will help the board develop their methodologies and thinking together – there is lots of policy writing ahead. I hope and plan that we might find ways of replicating this for other organisations also.

A bonus of the meetings was extra time in the city due to Eid holidays. Eid-al-Azha is the Muslim remembrance of the sacrifice of Abraham’s son. Here various animals are sacrificed, first being decorated with henna, garlands and bangles. The landlord of where I was staying sacrificed a goat in their back yard, and next door we saw a cow being slaughtered. Along the road were some very fine and well decorated camels being led on their last walk.

Over my long weekend I was able to visit another hostel to share experiences and ideas, as well as visits with special friends. I enjoyed big city life: getting my hair cut, celebrating a friend’s birthday, going out for breakfast and other treats. As the dates of Muslim holidays are dependent on the sighting of the moon, exact dates are announced close to the time. I had booked my train tickets in advance knowing there would be a rush, and had to guess which date to return on. It worked very well. I travelled on the 2nd night of Eid, and people were not yet returning, so I had a whole compartment to myself – luxury! I was able to lay down, read and sleep the whole 16 hour journey.

As I have been reflecting on this year I realise one big encouragement is in seeing the changes that have taken place in one of the schools I have been involved with. Through the team training approach of the organisation I work alongside, along with the regular mentoring of the headteacher and support and monitoring visits there has been a turn-around in this school. The headteacher has developed increased confidence, is taking initiatives and has developed a team culture among the staff. The staff have developed an increased ownership of the school and the students’ behaviour and confidence have also seen big changes.

Staff have commented that less bad language is being used, and students have been observed stopping one another from fighting and not allowing others to deface furniture. The head teacher observed that students would observe a behaviour which they recognized as wrong and then turn that into an assembly topic which they were leading for the following day. Students have taken pride in their environment, growing vegetables. Staff each donated money for the purchase of saplings which are now established and will provide good shade in the future.