Sustainability in Nepal

Author Portrait_Nimma Adhikari, Sponsorship Communication Officer
Nimma Adhikari

Sponsorship Communication Officer

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

September 22, 2017

Guru Sharan ji – Guru Sharan, his first and middle name, and ji is something we add, out of respect after a person’s name in Nepal – used to be one of the many children supported by the Save the Children sponsorship program in the Siraha district of Nepal. Today, he works as an Accountability Officer, collecting feedback from community members about our programs and analyzing the effectiveness of those programs to ensure children are receiving the best health and education support possible. After seeing the benefits of sponsorship as a child firsthand through the programs run in his childhood community, he was inspired to be a part of that work and get involved with our organization as an adult.

I immediately recognized him when I first saw him on the stairs of Save the Children’s Kathmandu office last year. It was a moment of satisfaction and tremendous joy for me to see him, a formerly sponsored child, doing so well in his grown-up life.

Guru Sharan ji relaxing at the Save the Children country office in Kathmandu, Nepal
Guru Sharan ji relaxing at the Save the Children country office in Kathmandu, Nepal

Recently, I shared with him my happiness in seeing a story from him on a social networking site in Nepal. It featured him with his wife on the day she graduated from college. I asked him if he was the one who took it upon himself to advocate for her education since he actively participated in child rights programs as a sponsored child, for example through the child club in his school.

We spoke of the cultural trends and restrictions in his community, where education was not considered an integral part of growing up. Parents instead focus on providing just two proper meals for their children a day, and do not have time to support their children’s studies. Girls’ education, in particular, is considered nothing but a waste of time and money.

As a child his wife, Shanti, had dropped out of school prior to finishing 5th grade and then returned after attending non-formal classes run by Save the Children for out-of-school children. She feels as passionately about the importance of education for children as Guru Sharan ji does, and wants to pursue a postgraduate degree in teaching.

He told me, “I had made it clear to my parents that I wanted Shanti, my wife, to pursue further education. Amazingly, my mother came to my defense.” Guru Sharan ji asked his mother about her concerns for the family’s public image – a married woman is expected to drape a sari but a schoolgirl had to wear a skirt if she wished to go to school. He went on, “… but my mother assured me that she was ready for any ill comments or backlash from the community; she would send her daughter-in-law to school.”

How was your mother so accepting of the idea to send her daughter-in-law to school? How did she find the courage to go against the trending culture? Did she learn about children’s rights from you? I was curious and began asking him many questions.

“When I look back, I realize that my mother was very receptive of progressive ideas. She was hearing from me and the sponsorship programs [staff] that education is every child’s right,” he shared.

Today, formerly sponsored child Guru Sharan ji is happy to be continuing the great work that helped him so much as a child.
Today, formerly sponsored child Guru Sharan ji is happy to be continuing the great work that helped him so much as a child.

As a child, Guru Sharan ji himself was very active in the child club run at his school through sponsorship, where with his peers he enjoyed discussing important issues that children face like child rights and the ill effects of child marriage or corporal punishment. He remembers the first day participating, being so nervous to speak in front of the group. After that, through the club he started to put a lot of his efforts into improving his public speaking skills. As he practiced through this forum, his skills improved to the point that he was often called out at various sponsorship supported functions and events to speak on behalf of the group. He began to realize that education was very important in one’s life. People would seek you out if you were educated. He would share these thoughts with his mother as well. Since he was the eldest child in the family, his mother would listen to him. All the changes she saw in her son made her proud and she knew all these changes were possible because of education and the sponsorship program.

Sponsorship uses a holistic development approach directed towards children through programs in education, health, adolescent development and livelihoods skills. Amidst the programs is one key factor that determines the sustainability of these programs: behavior and attitude change.

The movement of changing behaviors and attitudes from Guru Sharan ji, to his mother, and lastly for his wife’s benefit, is a prime example of how Save the Children creates sustainable solutions to the problems that children face in Nepal while also benefiting their whole community.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Guarding Our Children’s Future

Author Portrait_Tribhuvan Karmacharya, Sponsorship Program OfficerTribhuvan Karmacharya

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

March 17, 2017

Being born and raised in the hilly district of Pyuthan in Nepal, I consider myself one of the lucky few who was able to have a better chance at an education. I grew up in one of the most developed parts of Pyuthan, though calling it developed would be an overstatement. Many parts of this area, particularly in the high, upper hill regions, still lack electricity, and are so remote that hours on foot are required for daily tasks like collecting water for household use. I had the privilege of going to school and even continuing with my education, unlike the many children I meet with on a regular basis during field visits to this area.

I was quite unaware of Save the Children’s Sponsorship program until I joined the team myself in 2011. My primary role included collecting child replies from children for their sponsors, and collecting updates from the children about their daily life and about how they are benefiting from our programs. Most recently, we have begun to give extra attention to children who are not enrolled in school because they need our support more than ever, to truly turn around their lives.

A typical road in Pyuthan.
A typical road in Pyuthan.

My colleagues and I set out to cover different areas to meet with these out-of-school children. Walking is never an option in hilly communities like ours – it is the only choice if you need to go somewhere. Sometimes children walk for hours just to reach their school. After leaving the motor road, I walked along the narrow dirt trails to meet with several out-of-school children. Of those I met with that day, a young 11-year-old boy named Aashik still frequently comes to my mind.

Aashik’s mother had been terminally ill for quite some time. He had stopped going to school in order to care for his ailing mother, and to prepare food and care for his little sister since his mother no longer could. His father and 17-year-old brother had moved to India in search of work, a common story for families here. I will never forget the moment his lips shut tight and his eyes welled up when I asked him if he liked going to school. I didn’t need his confirmation. I already had the answer.

As a father to two young children myself, I could not bear to see Aashik cry. At his age, I was happy and content with my life. I expect the same for my sons and I expected the same for Aashik. I made arrangements for him, as well as the other children I met with that day, to get enrolled in school again.

Tribhuvan following up with Aashik (middle) and his friend about how returning to classes is going.
Tribhuvan following up with Aashik (middle) and his friend about how returning to classes is going.

A couple of months later, I followed up with the 15 out-of-school children whose families I had counselled about getting their children back in school. Just 10 of them were still continuing with their schooling by then, the other 5, the older ones, needed to return to home-life caring for other family members and household tasks. Despite this sad news, my heavy heart settled a little when I heard that Aashik was one of the 10 still attending, and that his younger sister had joined school now too.

Thanks to the support of our caring sponsors, Sponsorship team members like Tribhuvan are able to make the long journey to reach children in some of the most remote regions of the globe. By working with community members and parents, we are able to bring out-of-school children like Aashik back to learning – by providing them with school supplies and helping parents understand the importance of a good education for their children. Without your support, none of this would be possible for Aashik and children like him. Thank you!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.