3 December 2014

The Project

So if you have read a couple of my immediately previous stuff you will note I am in Nepal.

Kathmandu to be precise.

I don’t like to use the word ‘post’ in writing. I don’t particularly fancy the term ‘posting’ either.

Or ‘blog’

To me the word ‘blog’ has toiletry overtones which I don’t like and posting to me is firstly letters, and secondly things that you put in the ground that hold things.

Like a lamp post

Or a doorpost.

I just write.


I am not a ‘blogger’ I am a writer.

But I ‘blog’.

Dam it.

Anyway – I am in Kathmandu.


I come here a lot because I like it.

I like it for a lot reasons – one of which is these are some of the most impoverished people on the planet – and I am not.

The diametric opposites attract and humble me.

Singapore is a tiny Island that is Affluent, Educated, Lavish and drowning in Opportunity and Plenty.

Nepal is Tall, Land-locked, Impoverished, and starved of Opportunity. 

It has very little.

The inequity of it all motivates me.

It gives me perspective.

We all need jolts of that I think.

Empathy and kindness are easily given and greatly rewarded.

I love these resilient and polite and happy people who reside in a country that is on the roof of the world - and it is ancient.

Really ancient.

Nepal is where the Lord and great teacher Buddha was born. In a village called Lumbini.

In the year 624 BC.

His full name was Buddha Shakyamuni and his mother’s name was Queen Mayadevi and his father’s name was King Shuddhodana.
It is taught that one night, Queen Mayadevi dreamed that a white elephant descended from heaven and entered her womb. The white elephant entering her womb indicated that on that very night she had conceived a child who was a pure and powerful being.
The elephant’s descending from heaven indicated that her child came from Tushita heaven – which the devout believe to be the Pure Land of Buddha Maitreya.
Later, when she gave birth to the child, instead of experiencing pain the queen allegedly experienced a special, pure vision in which she stood holding the branch of a tree with her right hand while the gods Brahma and Indra took the child painlessly from her side. They then proceeded to honor the infant by offering him ritual ablutions.
The tree was a Boddhi tree
They are associated with all things Buddha
They are beautiful and I love them.
I really do.
Nice huh?
When the king saw the child he felt as if all his wishes had been fulfilled and he named the young prince “Siddhartha.” He invited a Brahmin seer to make predictions about the prince’s future. The seer examined the child with his clairvoyance and told the king, “There are signs that the boy could become either a Chakravatin king, a ruler of the entire world, or a fully enlightened Buddha.

There are other reasons of course – that I love Nepal - but none of which I will divulge here or now.

I have written about this at great length before – well sort of - but I simply couldn’t be bothered repeating myself right now.

Click on the bloody Hyperlinks.

I have written much and often about my association with Nepal and in particularly the children of the Snowland Ranag School of the Light and it’s Holy Patron – the Buddhist Lama and a fifth reincarnation of a Master – the Guru Rinpoche. I have written that the Guru and the children come from some of the most remote and impoverished and inaccessible parts of Nepal.

Really really high in the Himalaya

So I won’t write about it again.

I shall cunningly insert some hyperlinks here:

…… to give more background on the Country, the people and my friends and my association.

If the hyperlinks do not work then I am obviously not as cunning or as clever as I thought I was and you will have to use Google.

My smart-ass children and nephews and nieces think I am technologically incompetent.

They could be correct.

I can live with that.

So the Guru and his various advisors and myself have been in total agreement that the facilities in which the Snowland Ranag School of the Light are poor at best and the school is at its peak capacity and over-crowded and the children have nowhere decent to even play.

The property is a rental and we have done some improvements over the years - but is has been the Guru and his advisors and my shared dream that Snowland have its own property and grounds that are comfortable and safe and beautiful - for the children and the staff.

If the hyperlinks have worked – then you would have already read that the school is also the children’s home, and they are separated from their parents and families for ten years or more to get an education.

If the hyperlinks haven’t worked then you need to know this.

Here are some photos of the current school and the children.

They may not work either:

I am technologically a bit incompetent.

So for 4 years we have been looking - and the Guru and his advisors and I have seen countless buildings and blocks of land. I inspected at least a dozen abandoned and semi-occupied schools around Kathmandu and many, many blocks of grazing and farming and commercial land.

I have always very much favoured an existing building - with space – for play and expansion but Rinpoche seemed to be set on land and then build.

I have consistently told him that this would be far more expensive and would take many years.

It seems my logic and my perseverance may have paid off.

We appear to have bought a school.

Documents have been signed.

Fingerprints inked and pressed.

Money paid.

We are on the move.

At last.

I first saw this property in April of this year but I wasn’t allowed very close as the Guru and his advisors did not want the owner or neighbours to see me and know that a foreigner was involved in the purchase – as they would then charge a premium.

It made sense so we did a dawn viewing.

It looked OK and was on a very big plot of land. The main building was big enough for twice the number of kids the Snowland currently has and boys and girls dormitory much more spacious than the current ones. It had a rooftop area with a large room than could and will be converted to visitor’s accommodation and a beautiful rooftop garden. 

Our volunteer friends and visiting doctors and nurses and friends can stay there. 
In warmth and in comfort

There will also likely be big water tanks up there on the roof section too - to harvest rainwater and solar panels and perhaps even a mini-turbine to generate what I think will need to be about 8kW of power.

We want to have a computer laboratory and good lighting in every hostel and classroom and they all chew a little.


Kathmandu has an energy crisis.

It always will.

Load shedding occurs for more than 8 hours every day.

Every day.

I have good friends I have worked with before in a Nepali Solar and Energy Company called Gham Power.

Gham is Nepali for the Sun.

They solarized basecamp of Mount Everest and we have worked with them before.

They do very good work .

The owner of Gham Power is a man named Sandeep and he is a friend. So too is one of their Engineers Anjul who came up to the mountains with me and we installed a solar system on another school. We had to take all of the massive equipment up a shudderingly steep mountain in trucks up sort-of-roads.

Tracks really.

Then Anjul and his team installed at all and I had a hot shower the next morning.

From our solar heater

It was an excellent week of engineering and conversation and quiet contemplation with Anjul in the Himalaya.

It was brilliant.

Another really good thing about the new school I think-we-have-just-bought is that on it’s ground it has a natural spring. We have our own water supply and together with the rain water harvesting – the school will never be without water.

We can pump it everywhere. 

It will be used liberally.

Happy days.

There is also a water shortage in Kathmandu and public wells are commonly dry in Summer.

The water will be used for washing and cooking and cleaning and irrigating vegetables and the garden on what is a big piece of property. There will be room for a football field and there is already a slab for a basketball court and there is room to grow as much fruit and vegetables as they want.

There is room to keep chickens and goats as well.

I may even be able to build a type of grotto where the spring is - and we will have all the pipes underground.

The options and opportunities are endless.

I went into the buildings the day after the thumb-printing and signing and money-giving was done and I took these photos:

You need to look at the potential.

The school is in the Bagmati Zone in an area called Jorpati - and is close to the road that the Chinese are building all the way to Tibet.

It is a nice neighborhood in a good location.

There is enough room for an assembly area for perhaps 400 children and an art room and a computer room and even a gymnasium. The boys and girls will have their own hostels not just with beds – but with some lounge and sitting and chilling rooms all children love.

Beanbags and stuff.

The Internet.

Books and games

A Library.

I want a playground for the little ones with see saws and a slippery dip and a sandpit.

Like we had.

There will be proper toilets and hot and cold water and a filtration system to keep it all clean. We will want a funky waste treatment and handling systems to go to the vegetable gardens and be as green as possible.

We will be generating all our own power.

I have already put the call out and am at this moment getting drawings and CAD’s done.

CAD’s are Computer Animated Designs for you non-building types – three Degree images my friends the Architects and Engineers and Builders and Designers and Landscapers and Plumbers and Electricians are going to need.

Many phone calls have already been made and emails sent and received.

There will be more.

I have worked with a lot of people in the building industry for 20 years or more.

We have built bigger things than this.

Vastly bigger things.

Most of us have done bigger home renovations.

But we have none of us done anything as important as this.

We have done nothing as life changing.

So stuff is happening

It will be BIG.

It will be easy.

All hands on deck in April

Project Eden.

Here we come.

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