World Youth International School - Nepal
"Ignite the Heart and Mind"
Sponsorship Coordinator: Ann Hoey
Why a school in Nepal? Robert Hoey's Vision
Robert Hoey was a man who saw the world as it could be and not as it was. Robert at the age of 21 asked himself the hard question ...Why?
Why is there such imbalance in the world? Why do some children grow up in poverty and others in wealth? Why are some enslaved to long hours in the fields doing back breaking work while others live in a country where this would never be acceptable?
Why is a basic right such as education taken for granted in some countries while in others it is only available to the privileged few... and even then they are most often male?
The "Why?" questions continued and yet soon gave way to questions of "How".
How can I help? How can I contribute in some small way to readdressing these imbalances? From the questions emerged some answers and World Youth International was born. Robert's heart was big and his plans and vision for the organisation even bigger.
Robert was an inspiration, a motivator, a visionary, a cheerleader, good friend, loving son and brother. He was the type of man who, from a very early age, showed a sense of empathy with his world and all within it. He was committed to education as a means of assisting young people reach their full potential and also as a way of reducing conflict, prejudice, poverty and imbalances in the world. He often spoke of building a school that would be dedicated to these ends.
Robert's vision ignited the hearts of many around Australia and the world. He was the guiding light of World Youth International up until his untimely death in February 1996. Robert had just finished working with a group of young people on a WYI Program in America when he became seriously ill. His sister Deb and her daughter Tess were with him at the time and his mother Ann flew to the States to be with him. Robert was on the plane returning home to Australia when he died from meningitis. Robert was 28 years old.
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In November 1997, WYI committed to continuing Robert's vision and to building a school in Nepal as a testament to this vision. Nepal was chosen because at the time the decision was made, it had the third lowest literacy rate in the world. Approximately 13% of women and 30% of men were literate.
WYI ran its first program to Nepal in 1992. We had a long term association with the country and had in place the infrastructure to handle our new project. Members of the WYI Nepal Board began searching in earnest for a suitable community to work with and the land to build the school. It wasn't our intention to go into a community, buy the land and build a school. We wanted them to be a part of the plan and contribute themselves.
The answer was simple. We would finance the building of the school, set it up and the community would supply the land and work with WYI to achieve our goals.
After a year of searching and negotiating, Gokarna was chosen as the site for the new school. An agreement was drawn up between His Majesty King Birendra Shah Dev, WYI Nepal and Australia. The school would be built as a memorial to the founder of WYI, Robert Hoey and become a non profit school meaning it could never be sold.
Kathmandu, the capital, is a very built up city with dense housing, people and traffic. Once you leave the city environment, the landscape changes immediately with less and less houses, small villages popping up and usually roads which are in a major need of repair. The road to Gokarna is like this with the scenery changing immediately. After spending time in Kathmandu, it seems like it is a different world.
The environment was perfect. Very little noise, no cars, no horns tooting, very few dogs barking, little pollution and lots of inquisitive children. At the foot of the land is the Bagmatti River where the locals come to wash their clothes and graze their animals. On the other side is a very high cliff with a small village that in turn has a back drop of a mountain range. On one side of the land, a three metre high surrounds His Majesty the King's safari park, densely populated with beautiful trees containing deer and monkeys.
The amount of land made available to us was approximately 50 rupinees (13 acres) which is quite a lot of land spread between the safari park and the river. Part of the land is also on the side of a hill which is to be used for the planting of crops etc.
When the decision was made to build the school, we then had to look at ways of raising the money to make this dream become a reality. The very first event held in Adelaide was a Gala Ball and then we progressed on to our Richman Poorman Dinner and later Jazz in the Park which have now become annual events.
At the same time events were happening in other states which included a Roaring Twenties Gangster Ball at Ayers Rock, a Nepalese lunch in Melbourne, a dinner in Canberra, a Psychic Fair and Pie Drive in Brisbane and support from different schools in Western Australia. Some being a huge success while others having a few teething problems.
At the same time the NSW team were busy raising funds with their "Buy a Brick" campaign and their Sydney to Coffs Harbour Bike ride where 18 people spent nine days riding and raising funds over 720 kms.
The one thing that has come out of all of these events, apart from the money being raised, is that we have all learnt a lot.
Opening of World Youth International School, Gokarna
By Ralph Hoey, Former Director of WYI
What a wonderful place Nepal is. Each time I go back there I feel more at home. Time has no meaning for me here and I never know what the day or date is. This trip had more purpose to it as it was the coming together of a lot of hard work done by a team of committed people in Australia. The official opening of the World Youth International school built for the community of Gokarna as a memorial to Robert Hoey.
The day after I arrived in Kathmandu I set out early for the school at Gokarna. On arrival I sat down and cried. The last two years of hard work had become a reality. It was everything I could have wished for. The hillside and distant mountains were a brilliant green, the sky had traces of blue, the river was flowing and birds were singing. The local people were grazing their cows and buffaloes, herds of goats were scampering
across the hillside and women were washing their clothes in the river.
I allowed myself to become one of the above eagles circling the school and flew high into the sky looking down on what we had all accomplished. I took myself into the future and saw a school filled with children, the grounds covered in food producing trees and crops, the playground, the fish farm and a school filled with positive energy that was so alive.
After five minutes I made my way up the hill to the classrooms. The children were just adorable. Huge smiles with their little eyes that were so alive accompanied by three Nepalese teachers dressed in their colourful saris. I had such a sense of pride and satisfaction about what a group of Aussies could accomplish. I spent the whole day there just taking it all in.
The official opening of the school was held on the 14th September. This was a very special day as it was the birthday of Robert Hoey, the founder of World Youth International and who the school was being built in memory of.
What an amazing experience. The day was perfect. A group of us had been out there prior to the opening doing the last minute things. Balloons, streamers and posters were put up. We had a brass plaque made up about Robert which read:
World Youth International School was built to celebrate the life of Robert Hoey.
A young man with a huge vision, he ignited the hearts and minds of people around the world who turned his dreams into reality.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to creating this centre for learning.
Opened on the 14th September 1999 by Robert's family and those people from all over the world who took up the challenge and followed his dream.
The children received their new school uniforms and everything was set for the great day and it was exactly that.
The opening began with a Hindu priest saying prayers, blessing the school under the photo of Robert. Colourful leis of yellow and red flowers were hung over his picture. Below this was the plaque, which had been covered with a red curtain. On the far wall was the photo of the King and Queen, which also has leis draped over the frames. On each side of the wall were the Australian and Nepalese flags.
After the blessing and speeches, the cutting of ribbons, which were across the door officially opened the school. Tess, Robert's seven year old niece and the first student who had enrolled in the school, Bijay cut the ribbons to symbolise the two nations coming together.
Next, the celebration began. The children looked absolutely wonderful. Dark green skirts or pants, white socks, yellow t/shirts with the WYI logo "Ignite the Heart and Mind" on the top lefthand corner. They were so excited. Little trophies/plaques were give to each student symbolising the opening of the school. Food and drinks were supplied for everyone. The children participated in games where prizes were given out. We even had the parents playing musical chairs and the hokey pokey which was a real highlight for them. They loved it and were also really proud of their children singing songs etc.
When the school first opened, there were 24 children enrolled. The school commenced with pre school, upper and lower kindergarten, grade one and two. At that time it was perfect as it allowed up the opportunity to hire and select teachers, put systems in place and work on the school curriculum.
Eight months later, our classes were extended to include grade three and four. The school began accepting further enrolments with an incredible 163 children being accepted into the World Youth International school. The year 2001-2 saw the inclusion of grade five and six and in 2004, over 300 children were in attendance. As of 2013, there are now over 500 students attending the school and it continues to grow from strength to strength!
A large number of these children are sponsored through our development program and have been given the opportunity to have an education through the generosity of many people in Australia and other countries around the world.
People who are willing to assist us in this way can contact WYI by email for further information and details of children to be sponsored.
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