From the Kathmandu valley, it’s about a ten-hour jeep ride to reach the Terai region in the Udayapur district. (The low-lying land at the foot of the Himalayas is known as the Terai.) The journey is a dizzying zigzag through the Himalayan foothills. Fortunately, because of the new dirt road from Katari, we are now able to drive our vehicle, gear, and supplies all the way into the village. Back in 2009, we had no option but to trek on foot an additional two hours from Katari carrying all the gear - often dodging snakes and crossing monsoon-swollen rivers. Ha!
Left to right: Suraj BK, Andij Tamang, William Aura, Samir Khadka, Jeshika Khadka, Manjari Giri.
The village school known as Tintale United Educational Academy now educates over 220 students with 12 dedicated teachers. Music education has been provided here for the past 10 years led by highly respected master teacher Ganesh Prasad Regmi. To this day he continues sharing his excellent teaching skills with our faithful students. It’s really quite remarkable. As I’ve said before, only one girl back then - Sumitra Khatri, joined the music program in its first year. Through the music program over the years, there have been profound changes and that positive spirit ripples through the community. Today we have more girls than boys learning music.
The next day PFCF Mirpur Music Program administrator Tuhin Asad arrives. Flew in from Dhaka to Kathmandu, and took the 10-hour jeep to the village. He has come to join forces with us, check out the music program, and roll with the Mother’s Society to learn their ways. Our dream is to introduce a similar Mother’s Society concept in his village outside Dhaka. I must say this is Tuhin’s first flight outside his homeland. We are grateful he has come.
Longtime PFCF teacher Ganesh Prasad Regmi.
Tuhin meets some of our top music students and friendships quickly develop. I think it’s fair to say the village experience has him captivated. He’s introduced to our guitar hero teacher Suraj BK. Looking around the classroom everyone can see the students adore him. He has quite a following not only in the village but in Katari also. The most impressive part about this story is young Suraj was a former student of ours. Now, he is not only a gifted guitar teacher but an exceptionally charismatic mentor. The students are totally engaged.
There are some exceptional standouts in the program. I have to say all the students are trying their best and there’s one young lady we’re so incredibly proud of. Her name is Manjari Giri. She’s not only seriously studying guitar, harmonium, and percussion, she’s also a featured fearless actor with the Mother’s Society. Manjari has been offering some music instruction to even younger kids before class begins. This is one feisty young lady with a passion that will beguile your heart immediately. She’s the one to keep an eye on as a future leader.
It’s also a wonderful surprise to have highly acclaimed singer/songwriter Kishan Adhikari join the crew for this epic journey. Kishan was our very first PFCF ambassador helping to bring music education to Tintale village back in 2009. He’s now been out of the country for 10 years performing as a singer/songwriter to an ever-growing fan base. Kishan had the fire to return to the village and support our effort. He missed everyone so much. All the youngsters he knew a long time ago - are all grown up now. Yet Kishan bonds quickly with a whole new crop of precious kids that look up to him. Through his sweet falsetto, evocative lyrics and kind nature, a matured seasoned Kishan becomes an inspiration to all.