Projects Abroad Teaching Volunteers Launch Summer Camp Programme: The Deepmala Club
The Deepmala Club is an initiative started by two volunteers from Denmark and the UK, who went above and beyond at their Teaching placement in Nepal. Through their teamwork, creativity, and commitment to service, they have set a remarkable example for volunteers to come.
“It all began with discussions of the spring school holiday,” shared Malte Mathies Løcke, now a student at the University of Copenhagen, who came to Nepal on a 12-week project. “Before beginning our Teaching project at Deepmala Secondary English School, we knew that there would be a holiday break in March. Though the opportunity to travel around Nepal was tempting, I knew that I wanted to use the time to form a deeper connection with the local community, and a closer relationship with Deepmala’s students.”
Also volunteering and living with Malte was Harry Smith, now pursuing a degree in History at the University of York. Together, the young men began brainstorming, with the goal of designing a meaningful way to spend the school holidays, for both the children and themselves.
“At Deepmala, many children arrived early to school, well before the lessons,” said Harry. “As the school holidays approached, it occurred to us that these children, who arrived early because their parents had to work, would be left at home with little to occupy them. This was the starting point for the Deepmala Club.”
“At first, Harry and I discussed starting a holiday chess club,” said Malte, “though we quickly came up with other ideas to supplement the children’s classroom education. Once we had hopes of introducing new activities in arts, drama, and sport, the idea for Deepmala Club took off.” After presenting the idea for a holiday club to the school’s director, Malte and Harry communicated the idea to Projects Abroad. As Teaching and Care Coordinator Genevieve Cox elaborated, “I was beyond impressed with Harry and Malte’s ambition and determination. While they could have easily spent these free weeks travelling around Nepal, they chose to forge a bond with their school and community. They came to me requesting resources for the holiday camp, and I was happy to offer the support, in both supplies and guidance, of Projects Abroad.”
The young men quickly realised that the camp was also an opportunity to test innovative teaching methods, and flex their creative muscles as educators. “We were thankful that the school’s director gave us full permission to design this programme as our own; the trust of the director has been key,” said Malte. “With the support of Genevieve, and all of the staff at Projects Abroad, Harry and I have been able to design a programme that is entirely ours.” As Harry added, “during regular school hours, we follow the example of local teachers and do our best to adapt to their methodology. But this opportunity allowed us to design a curriculum with a more creative focus and one that would be quite foreign to the Nepali children.”
Malte explained, “instead of a ‘top-down’ approach, the Deepmala Club is about experimental learning. We wanted to integrate English into every part of the day’s activities, and allow the students to interact with each other, as a collaborative model.” What resulted from their careful design includes two weeks of activities in team building, sports and learning competitions, and opportunities for instruction in painting and drama. Four more Projects Abroad volunteers, also on school holiday, joined Malte and Harry as staff for the Deepmala Club.
“Malte and I came here to teach,” concluded Harry. “Though it would have been a treat to escape on a Himalayan trek or a Chitwan safari for the school holiday, any chance to teach gives us the ability to better our skills and give back. What started with the desire to give the school’s students a safe place to spend their free time has turned into a programme serving 50 children, with great potential to grow. We hope that future Projects Abroad volunteers will continue running the Deepmala Club with pride.”
Following the devastating earthquake in the Kathmandu Valley in April 2015, the holiday camp programme started by Malte and Harry was put on hold. Projects Abroad volunteers in Kathmandu and Deepmala are currently teaching children and working hard to repair damaged schools through Disaster Relief projects.
With the aid of future volunteers in Nepal, Projects Abroad plans to resume the Deepmala Club once the school’s facilities and local conditions improve.