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(with pictures taken by Kate and Venyei on their trip in April 2009)

lamling vista

Dear Friends and Family,

Venyei and I are writing to you all as gracious supporters of Lamling Vista Elementary School in Nagaland, India. It has been one year since the opening of the school and we wanted to update you on the latest happenings! None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for your genuine interest to participate in changing lives of children in India. So first of all, a HUGE thank you – your generosity has Venyei and I pinching ourselves daily, amazed. All of this is so far beyond what we ever dreamed or imagined to be possible!

The kids at Lamling Vista have been enjoying their Christmas break and are gearing up for a new school year beginning February 1st. Some changes are in store for the 2010 school year, including an additional grade level, new teachers, and the construction of a new school up the road!

Last year, we were at maximum capacity with 187 students in grades K-4. This year, we have added a fifth grade without space for another classroom. As you can imagine, the rooms are extremely overcrowded. But the thirst for knowledge among the Nagas trumps the need for personal space. With an added grade level, we hired one extra teacher, along with four others to replace the teachers who left the village to further their own education. The new school year will also bring a new Head Teacher, as the current one, Agap, was offered a job as Youth Pastor in a nearby village. So all together, there are seven teachers, five of them new – it’s a fresh start for Lamling Vista in 2010!

It would be an injustice not to mention how much time and effort Venyei's dad is putting towards the success of Lamling Vista. Without his collaboration, nothing would be possible, due to the simple fact that we are thousands of miles away. He is the School Board Chairman and takes care of every detail from registering the school with the state government – to ensuring the money gets where it needs to go – to interviewing and selecting new teachers – to ordering textbooks and registering students. Most of these tasks require him to take a dangerous 8 hour bus ride from the village into the main city of Dimapur. We are extremely thankful for his volunteer efforts!

Lastly, and perhaps the most exciting, is the update on our plans to construct a new school just up the road. The idea was born when a piece of land was donated to us by one student's parents. It is our dream to build a school out of long lasting materials (concrete, wood, and tin), with plenty of large classrooms, and a dedicated play area. Venyei's dad is conveniently a carpenter and will be overseeing the project. He has already begun building new desks and benches as well as putting people to work cutting down timber from his personal plantation, which will eventually be the walls of the new schoolhouse! In the next month, they will be renting a large piece of equipment to level and clear the land.

With the money we have raised from all of you in the last year, totaling $5,100 (!!!), we have set $4,000 aside for the construction of the new school. The remaining amount has gone to textbooks, school supplies, sports equipment, and song books. Also, Venyei and I are going to continue our contributions through sponsoring each teacher's monthly salary. For the new school, we have estimated the total to be $15,000 for supplies and labor, so we are almost 1/3 of the way there!! With persistence and small steps, we have full confidence that this dream can become a reality.
We hope to visit again next year and will send updated photos of the kids, new teachers, and ongoing construction!

On behalf of Yongam Village, thank you for your support in "Bridging the Gap to A Brighter Future"…

~Kate and Venyei

The land we will be building the new school on.

The School Board, with Venyei's dad (Angshing) on the very left.

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