Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nepal 2012 444 Toothbrushes

Many Nepalese families share a single toothbrush. A toothbrush to every school child would have an impact (even if it's just for one village). So we chose the village of Gudel in Nepal, home of our guide Ganesh Kulung and most of our assistant guides and porters. With the generous donation of 300 toothbrushes by Sunstar we will deliver a toothbrush to every school child in Gudel.

A toothbrush seems like a small item to many of us, but to have your very own toothbrush will seem like a personal luxury to these school children. I will post again, with pictures and reactions from the children after we visit the school in Gudel.

Dr Perry Kurz added another 144 toothbrushes that we will give to children along our route.

Many trekkers take small gifts for children in Nepal. There are practical and sensitivity challenges to this.
On the practical side, we have to carry everything on our backs, so gifts must be small and lightweight. And gifts need to be reasonably inexpensive as there are many children who would appreciate gifts - last year I took 100 hair-bands but soon wished I had taken 300.

We also need to be sensitive to the differences in our cultures, and to not overlay their culture with ours. Pens, pencils and school supplies are good. Toy cars and trucks seem like a good idea, but children in the countryside may have never seen a road or a truck so can't relate to the toy. Action figures of hockey players seemed like a classic Canadian gift, but of course these children don't know about ice, large flat surfaces, or the game of hockey ... and they didn't relate well to these toys. A rubber ball was great entertainment for the Nepalese children, but caused us some concerns - of course there are no sidewalks or paved streets to play on, so the ball bounced erratically from rock-to-rock down the mountainside, following by enthusiastic and laughing children ... no-one was hurt, while we were there. Gifts should be useful and healthy. Most trekkers avoid giving money, thinking it could encourage begging.

So this year we chose toothbrushes. 444 toothbrushes.

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1 comment:

  1. Great idea Paul about the toothbrushes. I have hundreds of pens from Luc, but they are heavy, so I send them 50 at a time. What is the best way to help?