We hope all is well with you and yours.
My last year was very constructive with the meeting in Nepal of a great family living in the medieval city of Bhaktapur and of having the great privilege to be asked to advise and help with their hotel project.
It has been Prakash Dhaubhadel’s 15 year dream to build a hotel that would reflect the beauty and rich tradition of his city, a small 12th century town that is registered with UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Built like an ancient Palace with many antique wooden features typical of the valley, the HOTEL HERITAGE is absolutely stunning and has all the facilities expected from international guests. My years spent training and working in graphic design and interior decoration came in useful again. I was able to lend a western eye to some of the designs and facilities and to help with the publicity materials but the real praises have to go to Prakash for his vision and wisdom.
I am glad to hear that all the travel agents in Nepal are now fighting amongst themselves to secure rooms for their clients.
I stayed there several times and it really is a heaven and to be within walking distance of the living treasure trove that is Bhaktapur, makes it an unforgettable experience.
The place to stay if you ever visit Nepal. www.hotelheritagenepal.com
Most of you know of the love and interest that I have had for Nepal and the Himalayas since my first travels there in 1979.
Some of you may know of my ever growing collections of artifacts, tribal art and masks that I horde and that I am reluctant to part with (I just spent one whole month cataloguing just under 300 dancers masks making it, apparently, one of the most important collection held by a single individual). Those are artifacts that I am interested in collecting because they rarely make it to museums when in my view they should.
I can only apologise for not putting on shows at the galleries.
For me it is very frustrating to have treasures packed away that even I barely get a chance to see. It is not the lack of interest believe me, but the lack of funds at my disposal to achieve my dream of opening my own museum next to the galleries.
Last year I was asked to lend some of my collection of Shaman’s dresses for an exhibition of “Rare Shamanic and Tribal Art from the Himalayas” held at the Espace Durand-Dessert in Paris. Mine where the only textiles on show and they made a great impact.
I was glad to see some of my collection out of its boxes and to be able to share it was great. The exhibition moved to Venice before going to Milan.
I am very strict about what I collect and where the items come from. For me, having items that have been taken out of temples or monasteries in suspicious circumstances, is an absolute no-no !
Whilst Nepal has several museums showing great religious works, statues and Thangka paintings, nothing from village Life, nothing that represents the so-called ordinary customs of simple folks is preserved for future generations.
My collections are of extraordinary items from every day Life, that are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to find.
Old textiles, blankets, farmers tools, ancient Witch doctor’s dresses and healing tools that, one day, when we have secured a building, I want to bring back to Nepal.
Parts of the collections can always be lent to the West but they will have come back home, meaning Nepal.
It rarely happens that artifacts in western collections go on show in the countries they originated from...
Last autumn, on my way to the little school I sponsor several hours on motorbike from Kathmandu, I stopped and visited a fantastic temple complex near the small town of Panauti.
I had seen it from the small dusty road before, but never stopped until then.
Absolutely beautiful temple complex and best of all, the small community, led by a local teacher, had converted one of the out buildings into a small museum showing various artifacts that had been salvaged from previous earthquakes. Heart warming.
With no help from the Nepalese government, they had managed to make it theirs.
I was very touched by their willingness to share their enthusiasm and respect for their cultural heritage with visitors.
I made a few suggestions to improve security of the exhibits and a better display than the handwritten labels on curling paper.
Even better lighting is achievable at a minimum cost.
All my simple ideas are slowly been implemented. I bought small spotlights and a huge roll of hand-woven fabric for display backdrops to the artifacts, and spent days typing captions and descriptions on beautiful handmade Nepalese paper.
I am donating some of my antique farming implements and an ancient traditional spinning wheel that ceased to be in use for over 70 years.
It is the right place for these.
The team was shocked that a westerner should know about things their generation had already forgotten...
My involvement in social work with children and people less fortunate than us in Nepal continues at the same time as I do my rounds and work with fantastic craftsmen and women on new collections for the galleries.
Little 13 years old Sanish’s emergency heart operation nearly six years ago, has had only few side effects that he manages extremely well.
Sanish is now in his second year at his new school in Kathmandu.
He is a star pupil with 90% results across the curriculum.
This is no joke !...
My work and support at Namo Buddha School is still very rewarding.
Whilst in Kathmandu, I met two professional footballers from Nigeria on contract with a local team of the Kathmandu valley.
It is strange that a few days before I left UK, Gary, a wonderful coach and ex-footballer looking after my dodgy back, gave me two foot balls to take to Nepal that had been used in great professional matches.
I gave Sanish the first one. A football geek and ardent supporter of Manchester United, he nearly had a heart attack…
The other ball was for Namo Buddha School in Etay, so what a better idea than inviting the professionals to play with the kids one afternoon?
Delighted to get out of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu and meet our children, the two kind and very black players became instant stars.
They did tricks with the balls and played and coached several games that the children and the whole community will never forget.
Some of the children did not have shoes as they kicked the ball full whack! There were cheers and tears of joy from all sides. What a day!
I love this school and I respect the founders for aiming at improving education for their immediate community on a shoe string.
The support, encouragement and the generous contributions some of you have made are baring fruits for the little community.
A second hand bus was purchased to pick up and drop off children from far away villages. A projector, laptop, screen and educational DVD’s were bought for the science department. The building of additional dormitories is going on and some of the classrooms have been painted.
We have taken on the responsibility for the education of two more little girls, sisters from a very poor family in the Etay community.
They said that they envied their friends going to school whilst they had to stay at home.
Now just wearing a school uniform makes them feel like princesses ! How wonderful is that? We take so much for granted.
Of course there is more we can do to improve facilities for the children, and any financial contribution that you can make goes straight where it matters.
No admin, no broker, no expenses.
All goes into the pot and I see the results first hand.
Here is again a list of possibilities that would greatly benefit the children:
For example I was very happy to know that the very modest (in western terms) equivalent to £60 per year provides 2 sets of uniforms for a child, sport gear included. Just under £500 guaranties studies for a “Day” student for a whole year, whilst it is only £650 for a “Boarder”... including all books, notebooks and pencils!
To completely repaint a class room in white costs only £45. To buy the materials to build a school bench/desk for 4 students costs £55. A set of “Bunk beds” for 2 borders including mattresses, pillows, 2 sets of linen and a blanket each costs just above £100.
Of course there are other items on the “wish list” like an extra generator would light up most of the rooms... Time will tell.
I will do all I can to help.
If you would like more information on sponsorship at any level and should you feel touched by this project and willing to assist, you can send your donations by cheque or bank transfer to:
Alain Rouveure Nepal Fund
Lloyds TSB 30 95 75 – Account 22238 668
IBAN GB43LOYD 3095 7522 238 668 – BIC/SWIFT LOYDGB 21385
We wish you and yours all the very best.
The wonderful Team at the galleries and I hope to hear from you again soon.
UK Registered charity No. 1166353