Category Archives: education

Walking a Marathon to raise funds ? What was I thinking ! 

Trying to design a web site and call out for people to fund me to walk a marathon has been quite a challenge. Again for those of you who know me you will know that I tend to write my sentences back to front and never say something simply if I can say it in a waffly, long winded way – hence the joy of writing a blog ! The trend today in web design is simple clean and clear. So for my foundation site I took this advice and used lots of relevant images (tick), kept text to a minimum (tick) and made my aims clear (hmmm can I tick this one off?).

So I am going to use this blog post for those who want a bit more information on what I will be using the funds for ! If you are reading this then you are part of my audience that prefers a little bit more detail and reflection. If all you want to do is donate to me then go back to this link and hit donate

So why walk a marathon to raise funds you may ask why not just ask people to donate ? Well I met Nick Kershaw, the brains behind the Impact Marathon Series (IMS) and think his model is simple and inspiring. I also know many of the organisations the IMS will be supporting such as Global Action Nepal, Shakti Shamuha, Maiti Nepal and many others all of whom are doing some great work in Nepal-more details see here Also look at the location ….

 Who wouldn’t want to go here? 

So given the focus of IMS on education, gender and sanitation it’s a bit of a no brainier that I’d want to be involved. Also as this is the first one, its in Nepal and like Jaqcs, founder of Unite For Nepal UK, I can’t run it but can challenge myself to walk it. The idea was it would make me take some time out to walk to work, to exercise and challenge myself physically – well that was the plan ! Trying to work full time, research and develop my business means the walking to work hasn’t happened as much as I’d like to and now with 4 weeks to go I really need to get some training in ! 

I’m actually going to Nepal in November for 4 weeks to start to evaluate sanitary pad / menstrual hygiene projects and to continue my research into the impact of educational NGOs in Nepal. So as always my flights are covered and I have covered my teaching duties at LJMU and thought whilst I’m there it would be great to also participate in the Impact Marathon.
Also as the company, Fair Connections, is developing slowly but the demand for the puppets and story sack is growing in Nepal so I need to raise funds so I can continue my work in Nepal. Feedback from the 20 schools I donated to last year is that there is a demand for mor puppets, stories and training as the book and puppets are having a positive impact in the classroom.  Walking the marathon and raising funds will enable me to work with these original school as well as new schools this year.  Raju from KERE received one set and wants to use them in his cluster of 5 schools, Ramesh is also keen to use them in the schools he works with who have a number of deaf children and Kiran feels they will be well used in schools linked to the Asian Resource Foundation.  So funds I raise this year will focus on these schools and I look forward to hearing from others who may be interested in this project. 

So what is the money I raise being used for ? 

Well 20% of what I raise is going to the IMS fund to support the work that the runners, both international and national, will be doing in and around Kakani supporting locally identified development projects and working with people in the local community.  I will blog  on this when I’m in Nepal in November.

The rest will be used to provide more teacher training and puppet based story sacks to schools in Nepal. Based on the feedback from the 20 schools that I worked with last December I will be providing more puppets and will be supplying a new book that has been written by Sue Green from Pahar Trust Nepal, about a baby monkey in Chitwan, which focuses on early years. The new characters and story are aimed at smaller children with a key message on being kind and polite. These puppets work well with mine and also have the potential to be used with other books in Nepal and really help teachers to make school lessons interactive and fun. In addition to this I will be talking to the schools and seeing what other resources they need to help them in their work to make schools more child friendly and will use some of the funds raised to meet this need. I know some schools want some sports equipment, others more library books and others maybe some science equipment – so I will listen to what teachers are asking for and support them where I can.

Handing over sacks to teachers in Laspe Phedi 2015 with the support of Global Action Nepal

Schools will also get a follow up visit to gain feedback on the use and impact of the resources they have and ideas for future work can be shared.

The basic message is for every £200 raised a school will receive all of these puppets (see picture below) and the books that support them, which are written in both English and Nepali, as well as a day’s training and support visit as well so I can get feedback from the schools. Plus schools will get some extra resources to support their libraries, science labs or sports activities ! 

As always I will provide feedback on this work via my web sites, Twitter and Instagram as well on the Fair Connections you tube channel – so if you want to know more please follow me or drop me an email.

🙏🏼 Namaste and wish me luck !  🐸🙈

If I wear my lungi for the walk will you double your donation ?

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My passion for photography… 

Designing my foundation web site has been a real joy as I had to revisit my photography and sift through the the thousands of images I have from all my trips to Nepal over the last 30 years ! I wanted to use all of my own images in the foundation site as it’s something which is very personal and special to me.


Where are they now ? Photo taken 1986

When I first went to Nepal in 1986 after completing my schooling at UWCSEA I not only fell in love with Nepal I also fell in love with photography.  This was in pre digital days when every shot mattered as you didn’t know until you had the film and slides developed if they had actually worked and captured that I had wanted to.  You had to both think about every shot and yet also try to capture the special moments.  The photo which I have used on my foundation site above is one of my favourites as it captures the essence of young people in Nepal. 

The one below is also one of my favourites from when I lived in Sikles in 1992. I love it because it reminds me of the many nights I have spent in the house of Bir Kumari and grandma and was one of the many places I felt so at home,I also I love it because it was taken before digital cameras and I can still remember how happy I was when it was printed and I found out I had captured the light of the fire and skill that is needed to make shell roti. 

 I miss spending time with Bir Kumari and Grandma – always in my thoughts 🙏🏼

The phrase every image tells a thousand words can sometimes be true but sometimes an explanation is also needed.  The photo below was taken in 1992 when I lived in Sikles to remind me of the importance of making teaching fun and interactive.  I had been trying to teach the children in class 8 the difference between “the house is here and the cow is there” but from the image in the book it was not clear even to me which was here and which was there. So I took the children outside and as they held their books and pens we practiced “the pen is here” “the book is here”. Then I got them to throw their pens into the circle and taught them “my pen is not here my pen is there!”. The kids had a great time,learnt the difference between here and there. The teachers in the school just thought I was bonkers !

My book is here my pen is there 

I have so many old photos that I need to scan and upload into my ever expanding collection on Flickr so that I can share them with the people who are in them.  In the picture above the tall boy to the right with the white  t-shirt, purple scarf and red cap is Gehendra Gurung.  Gehendra is now a teacher in Sikles and one of the big changes that I’ve seen over the past 25 years is the rise of local teachers in schools.  This is so important as children’s first language in rural villages is often not Nepali so having teachers who speak your mother tongue is vital.  Today Gehendra teaches in the local primary school in Sikles and plays a central role in the friendship link between Grange Over Sands and Sikles schools.  He has visited the UK with other teachers from his school and visited schools in Grange, Liverpool, Wetherby and London.  He has then taken good practice and ideas back to Nepal to share in his school.  Also children here in the UK have learnt so much from his visits to their schools. This has been possible due to a British Council funded project called Connecting Classrooms an initiative supporting global learning and exchanges.  

Gehendra being welcomed in Grange over Sands primary school in 2014 

The last image I want to share is one I took of the puppets being used in the classrooms in Nepal.  The idea of developing a story book in both English and Nepali using handmade fair trade puppets made in Nepal was in part influenced by my experiences of teaching in Nepal and also by the work of the Pahar Trust and Global Action Nepal as well as Aidan Warlows better classroom better learning  book.  

I am currently raising funds so I can provide more resources and training in Nepal by challenging myself to walk the impact marathon this November! A challenge I am much more looking forward to though is to take photographs that show the impact and value of children friendly teacher training and having resources, such as the puppets and other materials, introduced into classrooms can have to make school more fun.  So please come back to see if I can live up to both of these chalIenges I have set myself ! 

Children enjoying the story if Fairis in the classroom 

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Supporting autonomous development  …. Learning from Nepal 

Again for those of you who know me you will know of my passion and support for working with people in Nepal to improve the quality of education.  I based my PhD on Actionaids literacy programme REFLECT in the Sikles sector of the ACAP and the impact that this had on the women and men there who attended evening classes.  The classes unlike traditional literacy classes were based on discussions and learning together rather than being taught to read and write from a set text.  The centres provided a space whereby the participants, mainly women, could talk about whatever issues they wanted.  This led to their confidence growing in public speaking, problems being discussed and solutions identified and implemented. I was inspired by the impact that this had and the changes took place at the local level.  I learnt so much from the experiences that these women shared with me. This then led on to the Sikles photography project and publication of the coffee tables book ‘Our Village Our Life’ – again the funds raised by this were put to good use at the local level by local people – reaffirming my commitment to autonomous development.

Whilst I edited the booked all of the images in the book we taken by local people.

The book and exhibitions that resulted from this project have helped celebrate life in Sikles and show what life in a rural village in Nepal is like through the eyes of local people.
What more than amazes me though is that this project started in 2008 with a workshop in Pokhara and  a matrix of needs and dreams being drawn up (see image below). This included wanting a new school to be built, a new health post to be built and a youth group to be established as well as increasing tourism and improving the day care cantre.  Now only 8 years on all of these projects have been implemented – with the support of Government, Non Goverment and local people dashing funds and donating their labour.

I have a full prezi talk on this project available here

All of these projects which have been completed are down to the hard work of local people.  I am in awe of all that has been achieved.  The health post has been funded by Government funds, the secondary school rebuilt with the support of the Pahar Trust and youth club is almost complete with funds for the Sikles diaspora and contributions from local people of both land and labour. ACAP, Sikles Development Group, the Women’s Group and Youth Group have all worked together to help implement development projects initiated and developed by and with local people – the very essence of autonomous development.

So when people say to me I have done so much for Sikles I really have to disagree as Sikles, Parche and the surrounding villages have done so much for themselves.  We can all learn from their example. Recently friendship links have been developed by schools in Nepal and the UK, supported by the Pahar Trust Again through these links so much can be learnt from one another, gifts shared across the continents and a deeper understanding of the wealth in Nepal as well as some of the challenges remote villages face.

You will always recieve a warm welcome when visiting friendship linked schools in Nepal.

Sharing stories between Nepal and England helps children here learn about Nepal – here teachers from Sikles are visiting St Michaels in the Hamlet in Liverpool.

If you want to know more about how to develop a friendship link with a Nepal that please get in touch via

Nepal is here to change you not for you to change it !

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Starting a Foundation….. 

Some of you may already know that I am starting a Foundation to work alongside my new company Fair Connections.
Many people have asked me why as I already have enough on my plate with working full time and developing a small community interest company.

And my answer …

In order to help me do more work with educational NGOs in Nepal who I have been working with and to help Fair Connections have the most impact in Nepal.
It has been exciting developing the web site for the Foundation and is making me now relook at my company web site with fresh eyes …. how many people read lots of text, what photos should I use and how, how can I explain all the things that I have done so that I don’t seem like a headless chicken !

It’s taken quite a while to go from this ….

To this


thanks in the main to Matt from Inspired and advice from family and friends.
Starting the Foundation has also helped me to have a clear vision about how the company needs to operate as a small business and how the impact of the work I do in Nepal needs to be shared more widely.

Designing the new web, using all my own photos, reminded me of my passion for photography and mdantsane wait to get back to Nepal to take even more photos to add to my ever growing collection !

It has also made me even more aware of the fact that I do tend to waffle and try to say too many things so I have decided to use this blog space to share my more reflective ramblings.

So if you want to find out more come back soon !  If you just want to donate to the Fair Connections Foundation then click here …


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Fair Connections update 

In December last year rather that wait for the company to take off I decided to provide story sacks and the book I have written to schools in Nepal.  It was really important that training was also provided so that teachers understood what the book was about and also the potential for the puppets to be used not only with the book but in other areas as well.  This video clip shows teachers from 5 schools in Kaski being trained in how to use the puppets and story sack. It is really important that I get feedback from teachers about what they like and don’t like about the resources and also what other resources they need to help them make their teaching methods  more child friendly and their schools more fun places to be. From the training provided I realised that for the story sack to maximise it potential it needs to link into the local curriculum and be used as a fun way to engage children.


The story sacks were also provided to 14 schools in Lapse Phedi and training was provided by myself, Kiran Bohara and GAN staff – we are currently getting feedback from teachers in Nepal about the puppets and also finding out what resources they also want in their schools to help them improve the quality of education for children in Nepal.  Updates will be shared here but also in the Fair Connections Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so please follow us there

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The world is your Oyster card …..

Funny how its often easier to walk from place to place in London rather than get on the tube and how travelling underground can distort your senses in terms of time distance and places. Yet as I made my way to St Paul’s from Euston, which requires taking the northern line then the central, I gazed around and started to wonder what the link was between the people on the different underground line was to the class of people who live above. Thinking about where they are coming from what they are doing where they are going – looking around people watching – one of my favourite pastimes. The unsmiling faces, gender balance, mix of cultures and comparing this to traveling around on buses and trains in Liverpool. Thinking of all the classic stereotypical representations and the north south divide. Then it occurred to me that this all links to micro-sociology, to the performances and presentations we all make on a daily basis. What assumptions would people make of me ? And how different travel is in different countries.


This got me to to thinking about how I’m looking forward to the field trips we are running this year in sociology and sociological criminology at LJMU – one to Brussels and one to London and how you could as a student incorporate your observations back to the theories you have come across in your degree ….. One thing that is really important when making sense of field trip experiences is to write them down, have a clear approach and talk to others about what you observe, the assumptions you make and talk to each other to see how your experiences and perceptions are the same or different and how your positionality has an impact on your understanding of the world we live in. Hence this blog to show how my random thoughts led to a conversation with my friend who reminded me of a map of class and poverty linking the tube to income and wealth – so I googled it and found

Definitely worth checking out that link – and looking at the mapping London site – here’s a taster …..


I’d rather walk above the ground, breath the ‘fresh’ air, and make my observations in cafes and parks – but interesting to think how you can link transport to class – and it reminded me of the first lecture Liz James gives on social perspective in the first year when she talks about the meanings and learning we can do from simply people watching on the bus. The key thing is to write down your thoughts and ideas to create a record, maybe use photography to capture your feelings and to use these as a basis for analysis at a later date


Other things you can do is note and compare the feel of the actual tube stations – what is being advertsied where and what state are they in – what does this tell you about the society that we live in

Check out Goffman as well it you want to know more and maybe read an article or two on observation as a method and see where it takes you …. Remember the world is your oyster 🙂

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Padma Kanya, Pashupathinath, Patan Dhokami and … Paint !

Traveling to Padma Kanya Campus the next morning by rickshaw meant that we all arrived in time for our interaction session where staff and students from both PK and LJMU shared presentations on their research interests and took the opportunity to meet new people.


Talks ranged from the topics being studied on gender education as women’s right to child maternal mortality and uterine prolapse. It was excellent to see everyone present their ideas so clearly and thanks is due to all the staff and students at PK who,attending making the morning a great success.


Whilst visiting the Hindu temple and cremation site at Pashnupathi Nath some of the students took the opportunity to visit the Bidra Ashram – Old People’s Home close by. Whilst a peaceful location the home is in need of having the rooms and facilities upgraded but the activity and energy of the residents the gave the students food for thought as they compared them to those back at home.

The peace museum at Patan dhoka, established by Kundan Dixit, was a sobering reminder of the conflict and its impact Nepal and serves as a reminder as one of the books by Kunda is aplenty named .. Never again.

Following in from this an impromptu visit to Sattaya Arts collective and the amazing graffiti gave us the opportunity to experience the Kolor Kathmandu project in action details of which are found here and on facebook


In keeping with a peaceful end to our hectic day a sunset visit to Swayambu was squeezed in before once again heading back to Thamel.


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Krazy Kathmandu

Starting the day off meeting Indira from Prisoners Assistance Nepal was an excellent induction to the challenges faced by women in prison in Nepal. Indira shared her stories of fighting for women’s rights and her work in supporting their families to reduce the impact that prison sentences in Nepal have on society here in Kathmandu. Walking to PAN with her gave everyone an opportunity to see Nepal through the eyes of a truly inspirational activist.


Following on from this we were taken to the Organic Farm and new location of Bike Zone which provides an excellent community centre on the outskirts of Kathmandu as well as being a social enterprise with all profits going back to support PAN. Students returned later in the week to go on a bike tour and can recommend it as an experience not to be missed if you have them on your hands whilst in Kathmandu and want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. The ridiculous size of our bus meant we had to walk to get there which showed yet another side of Nepal to the tourist centre that is Thamel.


Lunch was provided for us at the Women’s Foundation and an excellent, though somewhat depressing talk, on the challenges facing many women in Nepal today. The work being done by staff at the women’s foundation though gave us all some hope that a new Nepal is possible, where women’s rights are upheld, where gender based violence is challenged and eradicated and where the world as envisaged by the women’s foundation is achievable.

The day ended with a much needed rest stop at Boudnath Stupa before heading back to the Kathmandu Guest House and the charms of Thamel awaited!



Filed under education, field trip, Kathmandu, LJMU, nepal, sociology, Uncategorized

Geography Sociology … same same but different

Geography sociology what is the difference ? Something I have pondered over the past year and the one thing that stands out is the tradition and value placed on field trips within Geography as an essential benchmarked skill. With the redeployment of myself and my colleagues into Sociology and Criminology we have taken with us our passion for Geography into our new positions. My colleague Dr Giles Barrett won an award for innovative teaching based on his development of a field work module for criminology students paving the way for further work in this area.

Whilst I have brought students to Nepal over the years who have been studying Geography this is my first time leading a trip of sociology and criminology students. All of them have developed research proposals and conducted background research into topics which interest them, which in this group of 13 range from women in prisons, education and disabilities, community police and gender and policing to the role of cooperatives in routing development and the aspirations of women in higher education.

From the minute the students landed it was full steam ahead. For many of them it was their first time traveling to Asia and the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu was a surprise. After settling into the Kathmandu Guest House they all went out into Thamel on an orientation task to familiarise themselves with the environment. This included taking photos, seeking recommendations for places to eat and noting down their observations in their diaries. It was to the the start of an intense journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara to Chitwan and back …. one that I hoped would have a lasting impact …. I’ll post my blogs on my journey and look forward to reading their reports to read about theirs! Maybe they will even comment here ?


Was glad I met the students at the airport !

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Studying society … Studying what matters.

Dr Lee Crookes, from Sheffield University, gave an excellent guest lecture at the Studying Society Student conference in March just before i headed off to Nepal – been meaning to blog about it ever since but just not had time to reflect – so here is a summary of the things i wanted to say.

The student conference ran in the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool with the main aim of giving first year students at my University an opportunity to present their research projects as part the assessment for the tutorial module.

Lee spoke with passion and commitment about his experiences of growing up in South Yorkshire and the impact that this had had on him not only as person but on his interest as an academic in his interest in researching the underlying causes of inequality and injustice. He talked about the miners strike, growing up in Thatcherite Britain and how this has influenced his research interests that he pursues today

Lee reflected on his own name, influence by the popularity of the tv programme the Six million dollar man in the 1970’s, and pointed out there are very few academics named Lee. According to one study if you are called Lee you are most likely to be …… in prison ! My favourite heading though from his excellent slides was the one where he reflected on conference papers that had been on offer at the America Association of Geographers Conference – you could choose from session titled … Dogs on holiday – the geography of toothbrushes or the sociology of shoes !! He wasn’t surprised but was some what disheartened to find that these sessions were better attended than the sessions held on poverty and inequality that he went to.


Lee’s work on housing market renewal and the threat that is facing working class people and marginalised disenfranchised communities proved a timely reflection given the bedroom tax currently being implemented within the UK which is going to have a massive impact on society and will undoubtably lead to an increase in poverty on our own door steps. These are the types of issues students will study at LJMU noodles such as critical policy and protest and resistance as well as modules on housing and society.

The commitment Lee has to his research and exposing the inequalities and stigmatisation that government policies have on the everyday person was clear from his presentation – I would highly recommend taking the opportunity to hear Lee speak at future events and also read his work in this area. He shared the stories of local people who have fought and resisted compulsory purchase orders and exposed the impact of ill thought out policies.

Whilst Lee noted it is very difficult to get ‘evidence’ to show the impacts of these policies on people’s health and well being as stories can often be dismissed as anecdotal – Lees talk highlighted the need to listen to local people, gather and share their stories to not dismiss the dismissible but to take the time to listen to voices to share good practice and too use your social science skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world – not only in the wider world but in the local works in which you live here and now.

I hope students rise to Lee’s call and make the most of the opportunities they have whilst studying at LJMU to get involved, research real world issues, to protest and take action and to realise their full potential.

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