Shouting, cheering and praising was continuous even in 3rd day of the match. Players were running, teachers were motivating, a massive audience was enjoying, volunteers were helping. The big festive of Himalayan games was on its top notch. The sound from the loudspeaker continued, “Yellow card volunteers come here and Blue card volunteers go there.” Suddenly, “The black bird” appeared in the sky and all eyes were on it. The whole of Gunsa was literally covered in dust as the bird started landing. Slowly the dust settled and there came, the chief guest of the closing ceremony, honorable minister, GaganThapa, out of the black bird.
Chapter I- The struggle
Six months ago, it seemed to be an impossible task to organize the 3 days mega event that included 27schools and 500 people in Satkanyamati School considering the poor infrastructure of the school, open TLCs where sun and rain didn’t ask permission to enter the classroom. We did not even have enough classrooms to accommodate our own students and were thinking of handling more than 500 students for 3 days. One could easily look and tell that it was an impossible task. Although construction of two new buildings was under progress, the pace of the progress was so slow that it could easily surpass the deadline of the event. But with fingers crossed and still hoping, I was there experiencing each moment.
As days passed by, humorously and painfully, the open TLC was replaced by open sky so that the ground could be expanded. Students were lashed by the sunlight all day and similar was the plight of all teachers. I figured “khula aakash muniko swatantra kakshya” isn’t as fun and exciting when it goes on for weeks. And on top of that rain stroked them occasionally. As I entered the class, their books were placed on their heads to block the sun’s harsh rays. I could see tan on their face due to burning from sun. We all turned brown (*smiles). Students’ eyes were used to be on the building undergoing construction in hopes that one day, one day they would have a classroom with four walls and a ceiling.
There was a huge sigh of relief as the game officially got postponed for about 2 months due to unready infrastructure. As days went by, construction work took a good pace. Teachers along with students had to maintain and level the ground by gathering stones and carrying endless sacks of mud. Despite of it being a daily routine to clean up and level the playground after first half of school, the energy and enthusiasm of teachers and students was awesome and never faded.
After two months, the product of continuous collaborative laboring of 300 students and all the teachers and staff, our school, was all set for the big event. The two buildings gloriously stood tall as we started making final preparations
Chapter II- Resolve &Rejoice
After rigorous planning and research, the distribution and allocation of volunteers for the match was done. There were 90 volunteers in total. It was upon us to manage the huge number so that the games would run efficiently. The volunteers were of two kinds; yellow and blue ones with tasks assigned respectively.
On 23rd Feb at noon, guests from various schools started coming. Yellow card volunteers were excited and nervous to welcome their assigned schools in the school. School representatives and players were ushered to their rooms by the yellow card volunteers. Some volunteers have already made good connection with them. By the evening, all the participating schools were in the school premises. As a small gesture for welcoming, a cultural program was shown in the evening. Dance, songs and comedy shows were the main highlights of the program. The school compound was covered by a happy crowd of students and some delighted villagers. The ambience of the big game was on. The arduous job of preparing Tie-sheet was accomplished at 24:00 hrs.
Everyone was waiting for the match to begin the next day. It was early morning on 24thFeb, the players from various schools lined up for the distribution of their sports kit: jersey and player number cards provided by Adventure aid.
The lighting of the Olympic torch and unveiling of the game banner by chief guest Mr. Nirmal Ghimire, District Education Officer of Sindhupalchok was done depicting formal opening of the program. With the synchronized noise of the tom and drum, “dung dungdung”, players marched around the whole Gunsa Village.
The game was on. Few months ago, as the school has only one ground and there were more than 18 games, there stood an obstacle before us. The decision was made to arrange for the other outdoor games in the neighborhood field and preparations were made. The main ground of school was taken by football. On a corner, table tennis was going on. High jump, long jump, javelin throw, badminton, triple jump, tug of war, shot put were some games that were played on the terrace of the field which carefully designed and managed as per the requirement. Quiz, chess, baagchal were played inside VDC’s spare room.
Other than the games and excitement, what amazed us and the teachers and staffs from other schools was how self sufficiently and smoothly it was operated. Our students displayed great leadership skills. We were exhausted but more than delighted. A week of training and guiding the volunteers had paid off. They were everywhere they were required. They were in action all the time. Some were watering the football ground, some were managing the high jump pitch, many carried water jugs around and many of them took it upon themselves to see that the games went on without any problem.
One student from grade 9 single handedly sat through about 7 hours of Chess competition and saw to it that it went properly and fairly. Whenever help was sought, the volunteers were there. Marvelous job was carried out from the control room making sure that the volunteers were not just toiling off but working efficiently and going where needed.
I could see joy, excitement, sorrow, relief, thrill on the face of players, teachers and audience. The teachers were on their toes cheering and sometimes yelling to boost the energy of their respective students. Friends and teachers hailed the winners. Information regarding the games and winners was announced continuously in the loudspeaker. Volunteers were operating as per the needs of the games. The same scenario continued for 3 days. I could feel something impossible been turning into possible. The sense of success for hosting the mega event (27 schools, 18 games including senior girls, senior boys and junior girls, junior boys categories, 500 people) could be felt in the air.
Reflecting about the game most of us were satisfied and few were unhappy because of the lesser number of medals, some missed their new friends and some wanted the event to go on longer. What mattered was that they understood that winning wasn’t everything and there is always room for improvement. It wasn’t perfect, there were some complaints, but everything was handled without causing any discomfort. The joint feeling of the reflection room was, “We all have gained a lot from this experience and we will do much better next time. We are happy for now.”
As for the medals and awards, our school didn’t receive many. However, given the time and circumstances our students had to go through before the event, we still felt accomplished. The best part was that the students were practicing in person what the book only told them in writing. They learned to work together with different persons, communicate with new comers, help each other, seek help when needed, take responsibility for themselves and their actions. The volunteers were verbally praised by all who attended the event. They were awarded with certificates of appreciations and I’m certain that they took them home and showed those to their parents with pride.
I still smile with pride when I go back to those four most precious days of my life. Although it left us with our backs aching, some sore throats and exhausted bones, it taught us a lot. Experience teaches excellently.