April 22 was Earth Day, and we celebrated in Mongar. I taught my Class 6A students the song "One Planet", which we had done at a primary concert at Hon. Earl Rowe P.S. a few years ago. The Mongar kids did a great job, although they insisted on changing the tune to make it their own, despite many corrections. After morning assembly, about 120 Class 7 kids and about 20 kids from the high school nature club, walked with me to the "Children's Park" in downtown Mongar. This park has been neglected before even being completed. It has a big drainage problem, creating a large mucky area. Mostly it is a garbage dump. No one ever hangs out there. The beautiful central park in Antigua, Guatemala, where I had my coffee every day, was the work of the students at Nuestros Ahijados, the school where I worked during my first visit to Guatemala. They had worked to get it back to its former glory. My hope is that we can do the same here, and make this a pretty park where people would like to sit and relax. The hospital provided the kids each with one latex glove to wear. The municipal garbage truck arrived as arranged, and we started collecting garbage and loading it on the truck. Some kids worked carefully, so as not to get too dirty, while others (boys) happily waded into the muck to retrieve plastic bottles and discarded tires. My friend Ugyen from the forestry department arrived with ten tiny trees for us to plant to mark the occasion. I was worried that the trees would just blend in with the weeds, but the kids encircled them with piles of rocks to protect them. Some of the kids also worked to dig up areas that will be flower beds. We will return in the future to plant flowers and shrubs. I really hope that the higher ups at the dzong will fix the drainage problem soon. I thought I had them on board to do that, but that part of the plan didn't happen. When we were finished, many of the kids were absolutely filthy!! I phoned Madam Principal and asked if the kids could have an hour to go home and get washed and changed. She gave her permission, so the kids went home, and reappeared at school an hour later in clean clothes. They were in clean ghos and kiras, but not their school uniforms any more, because they only have one. If I was in Canada I'd be worried about parents phoning the school to see what teacher had allowed their child to get into such a mess. Here there is no worry about that sort of thing.
By the way, our clean-up project made it to national television, thanks to my BBS friend Sonam, pictured here relaxing.