Where We Work
The village of Samibhanjyang has the lowest altitude of the CAIRN villages, situated at 1066 meters above sea level and in the Lamjung district. The climate is cold in winter and hot and wet in the summer monsoon season. The village is 65 kilometers from the nearest town, Pokhara, or four hours drive on a local bus. There is a gravel road to the village which becomes impassable during the rainy season due to floods and landslides. The village itself has a few shops and is actually located at the crossroads of paths crossing a saddle in the mountains.
The village is made up of approximately 700 people, with 185 children between the ages of 6 and 16 years. The majority of villagers rely on subsistence agriculture, with a small minority in service industries. Paddy, millet, maize and wheat are the main staple crops produced, with domesticated animals raised for dairy products meat and manure.Although most households are engaged in full time farming food, only 18% produce sufficient food for their needs. Approximately 10% of the villagers live below the absolute poverty line.
Home and Family
Most of the houses within the village are two-story structures made of local materials, such as stones, mud and timber. Since the village is relatively is close to urban areas and has access to a motorable road, several newer houses have been made with cement and iron. Unlike other villages within the area, the majority of houses also have a separate kitchen which helps to create a clean indoor environment and better health particularly for women and children. Also unusually a high proportion 86%, of households have lavatories! Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of water resources. However, the large majority of people across the country do not have clean drinking water and water is a problem in the dry weather. In this village there are sufficient sources of drinking water, but the village still experiences a lack of supply during the dry season. The village does not have electricity, and very few villagers have solar panels to provide lighting. Firewood is the main energy source for cooking and heating. In Samibhajyang marriage is socially and culturally accepted from the age of 16-18, with women giving birth of the first child one or two years after their marriage. Dowries are not compulsory, but are prevalent in the village.
Education Within the Village
There are four primary schools in the immediate area, one lower-secondary, and one secondary school, which contributes to a quite low village illiteracy rate of 20%. The Samjhana Secondary School – which is funded by Thomas’s Battersea educates 222 students from pre-primary to Class 10, with slightly more girls than boys. Built in 1998, it was the first one completed by any of the Thomas’s Schools. The land on which it stands was donated by one of the villagers, and the whole village contributed labour for quarrying stone, breaking stone for aggregate and carrying sand up from the river below. In those days there was no road to the village. The school is large, with a total of 15 large classrooms within the school, allowing the school to accommodate a considerable number of students. This school is well located and has a large play ground, toilets and drinking water. The school compound is very well fenced and there are good educational materials and supplies. The school is open from 10 am to 4 pm from Sunday to Thursday and 10 am to 1pm on Fridays, and is closed on Saturdays and public holidays. English is a compulsory at the school. There are currently 15 teachers employed at the school, of which 11 are from the local community. The teachers from the school report that student attendance is good. Though the teacher attendance is also reported to be good, some classes are experiencing difficulty in completing the School Leaving Certificate (SLC), with pass rates only being between 10-15%. The CAIRN Trust will continue to monitor this situation.