Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Wish List

When I applied for this job, being resourceful was one of the most sought after qualities in applicants. I think I have been very resourceful, and understand part of working here means making do with what you've got. At home and school we are learning a lot to adapt to local conditions.

I sent two ten kg boxes from home, full of children's story books, card games, art materials, teaching documents and all sorts of other things. Having these helps me lift the interest level as well as the intellectual depth of our lessons.

I have purchased locally a variety of stationery items that students don't all have themselves: felt pens, lead pencils, crayons, scissors, rulers, erasers, pencil sharpeners, paintbrushes, paint, A4 paper, cardboard, marker pens,  staplers etc etc.

And then there are the resources I am finding from reusable materials. All along the side of the road on the way to school are colourful plastic bottle top lids of which I have collected well over a hundred and taken them home to wash. They are my counting materials (imagine teaching place value without paddlepop sticks), and markers for games. Every plastic container, cardboard box or can we use at home finds a new purpose at school.

And I have spent many many hours already making a variety of teaching resources: posters, tens frames, word games etc etc, all without a printer or photocopying.

So after all that I have enough resources to make learning fun and stimulating. Still, I think my students here are no less deserving of a world class education than their peers in Australia.

We sit in classrooms here with broken windows big enough for kids to poke their head out of, long neglected. There is no soap available to wash hands at lunch times or after using the toilet. Tissues are not used so snot runs down the faces of kids, inevitably spreading germs. Many children have rotten black teeth from lack of dental hygiene. I would love to have a magic wand to solve these and other problems I see daily.

So here is the bottom line... I am wondering among my readers if anyone is in a position to organize fundraising for this little school in Bhutan? I know even in Australia and other western countries there are many worthy causes, but I still want to ask. I am also grateful for friends, family and colleagues who already made contributions before we left and don't expect the same people to feel burdened. I ask now as it gives me time to enact some projects.

Also I want to add that I arranged with the principal today to conduct my first Professional Development seminar with teachers so that I can share all the resources and ideas I have brought from home in the hope that my reach is further than just the kids I directly teach. Whatever resources I have brought and made I intend to leave here and I want to know they will continue to be used.

I wish you could have seen the kids today when for English we read a poem about a tree and then went outside to paint a tree! I had eight water paint trays to share and only enough paintbrushes for half the kids (can't buy them locally). It felt like I was handing food out to starving children, they were so desperate to get their hands on these precious items that I would say most do not have at home.

Same scenes in the library, it is like a football brawl, kids grabbing, snatching, fighting to get their hands on a book! Most don't have books at home and the only bookshops I've seen are in the capital 12 hours drive away. I accidentally sent a library book home with each year one student today, but found out later they are not meant to borrow as they probably won't be looked after or returned. Oh dear!

Anyway, my heart breaks for kids who don't have books to read, paint or crayons to draw with and the basics of hygiene. I don't know whether there is enough food on all their plates but that is another issue entirely.

Here is my wish list:
*cash (for the various projects I suggested)
*classroom supplies like felt pens, color pencils, crayons (the ones available here are worse than the cheapest and nastiest at home), colored paper, oil pastels, interesting pens, paintbrushes etc
*teaching supplies like games, dice (I have made some from cardboard but would love a pack of ten like you can buy for $2 at the reject shop) paddlepop sticks and rubber bands, counters, joining blocks, alphabet stencils (I brought 5 but its hard for 28 kids to share something so cool!), stamp pads (I sent alphabet stamps but the stamp pad arrived all broken and ink through everything).

I hope you don't mind my putting my wish list out there. If you know someone who knows someone who may be in a position to help, forward this on!  I look forward to any response, great or small. Kadinche la!!!!


  1. What is your postal address for people to donate to?
    How fortunate are these children to have you and be exposed to your ways. I hope you receive lots of help.

  2. Hi Andrea! Wow amazing and they look so gorgeous in their uniforms! I would love to post a box with more water paints and paint brushes if that would help? Please let us know the address! Love and happy birthday to Xavier x x x Chelsea

  3. When I was teaching in Kanglung I managed to get friends to send children's books by creating an event on facebook and calling it "long distance happy hour" since for the price of a fancy cocktail and nachos people could buy a book and mail it to me. I just "invited" everyone I knew and was really overwhelmed by how many people were willing to help. If you have some more details ( like address where they can send the material) I really hope help get the word out. Social media is a really great way to find people to help!

  4. thank you all!
    Cheri, the address is
    C/o Andrea Chisholm
    Chumey Middle Secondary School

    1. Wow no numbers! I am planning to send a box with some art supplies when I get back from my week in Malaysia next week! X

  5. Chelsea, art supplies will be great as I will also be teaching art to a group of highschool girls. Thankyou!

  6. Dolro, thanks for your idea! When were you in kanglung? I share my blog on facebook and also participate in a facebook photography group and have had an awesome response all around, it is amazing how generous people have been and I am so excited for little parcels to start arriving! It wil keep my husband busy walking up to the post office to collect!! Wil keep you r idea in mind and wil l suggest to a teacher in chukka who also wants to gather resources. thank you! Kadinche!

  7. Hi, we have some friends from NZ heading over to Bhutan in November and they would love to help. Are they best to post things over to you, or bring them to Bhutan and sent to where you are then? I will get them to contact you via Facebook as they having problem commenting on your blog.