(Today we hand the blog over to Mary Kaye from the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation, to describe day 5: our first visit to the Zeke O’Connor junior school in the morning and the senior school in the afternoon.)

Honored. Humbled. Bursting with joy.

Allison, one of our travelers, said, “I’ve never known what it feels like to be a celebrity until today.” That’s how we all felt on the day that we were welcomed to the Zeke O’Connor School. Parents wore their colorful native dress. Banners adorned the courtyard. Students held khatas (silk welcome scarves) and necklaces they had made from marigolds or flowers picked from their gardens. To say we were showered by these gifts is an understatement. We were covered in them. Each smiling face wanted to greet us as we walked through the line. Each child exclaimed, “Namaste!” to each of us. Then we sat in places of honor and the program began.

Songs, dances, speeches, more gifts and gratitude for the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation’s funding of the school.

We were overwhelmed. We were humbled. These families have so little and on this day they chose to give us so much. It’s hard to describe what we experienced except to say we witnessed and received pure love.

The photos say it all….

Arriving at the junior school (pic: Kristie Gill)

Children handing out khatas, flowers and greetings

Welcome song (Pics: Virginia Elliott)

Mary was presented with a portrait, drawn by one of the junior school students!

The junior school teachers danced for us, too. Doma turned out to be as good a dancer as she is a chef. (Pics: Vicky Bell)

We had so many khatas by the time we headed to the senior school—Paul and Allison counted 70! (Pic: Virginia Elliott)

Welcome at the senior school—unfortunately, the weather had started to close in by now… (pic: Virginia Elliott)

Rick being welcomed at the senior school (pic: Susan Lazar Hart)

The students spelled out “Welcome” in a human chain (pic: Kristie Gill)

There was a beautiful tribute to Zeke O’Connor (pic: Virginia Elliott)

The senior school teachers’ dance was a huge hit

We had the chance to visit some of the classrooms, and the Science Exhibition (pics: Vicky Bell)