Bhujung is one of the remotest villages within the CAIRN Trust Programme. The village is located on the southern slope of the Annapurna range at 1690 meters above sea level, in the Lamjung district. Due to its location, the weather usually remains cold throughout the year. There is no road access to the Bhujung and the nearest city is a ten hour walk.
The population of approximately 2,250 consists of 365 households in Bhujung, the majority of who own land and are subsistence farmers. Traditionally, farming methods are used to produce paddy, millet, maize and wheat. The majority of households do not produce enough food to meet their annual family food requirements. The quantity of food produced by the majority of households usually lasts for less than 6 months. Villagers are then forced to buy food from urban areas, often with money received from relatives abroad. This becomes very difficult for the poorest of the poor within the village as they cannot produce enough crops to survive and are less likely to have outside family support available. Low fertility of soil, lack of irrigation, natural catastrophes such as a dry season, landslides, floods and hailstones are some of the problems faced by the locals every year, which further undermines their ability to survive from the crop yields. Migration is common practice in this village as many men are recruited by the British and Indian Army. This migration of ‘wealthier’ families has had a negative effect on the village economy. Tea is now grown on the sunnier slopes and although there is enough to supply the village, not enough is grown to sell.
Home and Family
Housing in the village is concentrated and the majority of houses are two stories with a stone or tin roof. All the houses are made using local resources such as stone, timber and manpower. They do not have a separate room for cooking; this is done within the main living area using a kerosene stove or wood fire. The electricity is unreliable, so most villagers now also rely on kerosene and wood for lighting as well. Only 15.5% of households have toilet facilities within the home. The village has adequate clean water for drinking and irrigation, though it is not supplied directly to individual homes. Within Bhujung the majority of families have an average of five children and both arranged and love marriages are widely found throughout the village. The average life expectancy is 60 years.
Education Within the Village
35% of the village is still illiterate. The Bhujung area has one pre-primary, one primary and one secondary school. Historically only 23% of the villagers have attained a primary level of education with only 12% completing a secondary level. The Tribhuvan Bidhyashram Secondary school was built in 2003, with donations from Thomas’s Kensington parents in partnership with the Pahar Trust, in order to increase the levels of secondary education within the area.
Tribhuvan Bidhyashram Secondary School
The School is very well located on a flat plateau above the village and accommodates 450 students. 58% of the students are boys and students’ attendance averages 80-90%, which is seen as positive. However attendance drops during social celebrations in the village. There are 15 teachers at the school of which 12 are male and five are from the local community. The village community pays the five teacher’s salaries. The size of classroom is larger than in the other government supported schools. There are 11 rooms for students including the Child Development Centre. The School has an open area with a toilet and drinking water facilities and a playground for students. There is also a Hostel next to the school where teachers and students with no family in the village can stay. With funds raised during 2007-8 from Thomas’s Kensington parents, future plans in Bhujung centre around The CAIRN Trust improving the quality of the Hostel so that older children from the surrounding areas can also get a secondary education. The School uses the government recommended national curriculum which includes English, Nepali, Math and Science as major and compulsory subjects. The school hours are 10 am to 4 pm (6 hours) from Sunday to Friday apart from holidays. There is a ten member school management committee. Local teachers reported that there were some orphan children (without either father or mother) in this school and that 20-30% of children in the area could be classed as vulnerable children.