Rural Empowerment and Development Initiatives (READI) Nepal is partnering with TRAS to conduct a project in remote western Nepal to educate 30 of the poorest children, representing the lowest castes and groups in five villages.
The following READI Nepal Video was created by UBC Economics students through the Community Based Experiential Learning program:
Though its natural beauty is outstanding, Humla District ranks 74th in terms of poverty out of Nepal’s 75 districts. Humla is the highest, most remote district of Nepal, lying in the country’s north-western corner along the border with Tibet. The agricultural season is short in the high mountain valleys, and life is challenging during the long, severe winters.
Humla in Winter
Reaching Humla is also a challenge, via intermittent flights to Simikot, Humla’s small capital, or by walking from the nearest road head for 10 days.
Although the government has built schools and a few tiny health posts, resources are limited, and the sheer difficulty of reaching and supplying them leaves most children without basic health care or education.
READI Nepal, a local volunteer non-governmental organization (NGO), is dedicated to ‘fighting untouchability and illiteracy’ by improving the education, health and income generation opportunities of Humla villages. Partnering with TRAS, READI Nepal is providing some of the poorest and most marginalized children with the opportunity to gain an education. TRAS is providing 90% of the funds needed.
Accomplishments of the TRAS-READI Nepal partnership:
- A house in the tiny capital of Simikot has been rented and furnished as a hostel – READI Home
- 30 young children (50% girls) selected from very poor, dalit (untouchable), minority or conflict-affected villages live in the hostel and attend a nearby private school
- Two teachers were selected to attend an innovative teacher-training course in Kathmandu, and have returned full of confidence and ideas to share with their colleagues
- A young cook has been hired and trained to use local foods (rather than the expensive, low quality rice brought in by the government)
- The very first library in Humla has been set up at the school, thanks to a grant from the Nepal Library Foundation of Vancouver
- All of the 30 children remain in school and are doing well.
One of the long-term goals of the hostel is that age-old barriers will begin to disappear as children from different castes and backgrounds sit and eat together at the same table.
Parents and family members are delighted and grateful that their children are receiving an education.
Read more comments by family members about the impact of READI Nepal’s education program on their children.
READI Nepal reports that weekly requests come in from villagers anxious for their children to join the project.
TRAS is pleased that the initial goals have been accomplished and is keen to continue supporting READI Nepal’s work. Recently, TRAS accepted READI’s proposal to set up a café in Simikot, to cater to the increasing numbers of trekkers, tourists and government workers. A barista was trained in Kathmandu at the Himalayan Java Coffee Shop and the manager assisted READI in purchasing the necessary supplies. The café, Humla Delights, opened in April 2015 and in spite of the tremors which shook Simikot in May, it is doing well. The cook is baking breads for the hostel as well as for the café. All profits will go towards covering the hostel expenses.
Funds needed for the 2015/16 year: $23,100
Key Results of 2014 – 2015
Through its education program, READI Nepal has empowered and inspired children in the Humla district for five years. The 2014 to 2015 calendar year saw significant and dynamic achievements that are starting to improve lives in the Humla district.
All 30 children attending the Himali Model Boarding School moved to the next grade. In 2015, the Education Resource and Development Centre based in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, donated over two boxes of children’s book for READI’s library in the school
Furthermore, READI Home continues to provide healthcare, food and accommodation for the 30 disadvantaged and poor children. Such support is paramount in ensuring a safe and happy life for the children, while also reducing strains that prevent them from their studies. The children’s parents and guardians visit often and are involved in regular meetings with the hostel staff to improve READI’s services.
In 2014, READI Nepal also improved the livelihood activities of the families of the children. For instance, the District Agriculture Development Office distributed seven saplings each to the students’ guardians. From this, five guardians were able to start their own tea houses and apple processing businesses. Thanks to these activities, a minimum level of contribution from those guardians who can afford it has been agreed upon. These guardians are each supplying the hostel with 5kg of firewood and 2 kg of cereal every two months. We are delighted to see these early steps towards sustainability for the project.
As health and sanitation is a primary issue, READI Nepal has continued its coordinated activity with the District Health Office for regular check-ups of the children. In 2014, READI Nepal submitted an idea to the Teelganga Eye hospital in Kathmandu to organize yearly check-ups for people who are unable to afford it. The request is currently under consideration.
The READI project is grateful for its support staff and fundraisers who have contributed to its development in 2014. READI is hoping to build its own earthquake proof, purpose-built hostel in the near future.