Kindness in the Classroom

By: Nimma Adhikari, Sponsorship Communication Coordinator

My first visit to Kapilvastu, Nepal, was back in 2013 when I had accompanied my then supervisor to meet sponsored children in schools supported by Save the Children’s Sponsorship Program. Of those schools, some had very small classrooms for a large volume of students, while others did not have enough students. Some were undergoing construction building new classrooms, early learning centers and age-appropriate water taps. This was the fourth year of Save the Children programs in Kapilvastu. 

Fast forward to 2019, and I meet 14-year-old Goma, a grade eight student in one of the schools we work at in Kapilvastu. She remembers how she and her friends studied in cramped classrooms when she was in her primary school. They did not have enough classrooms to house all the students comfortably, and on top of that, most teachers walked around with sticks in their hands reminding them to behave. Learning was not much fun for Goma and her siblings. It was a task that she did to please her parents — especially her father who had a brief career as a teacher but had settled as a farmer.  

“Many years ago, a bunch of people had come to take our photos. Soon after, I received a letter from someone who I was told was my friend from Italy. Her name is Paola,” shares Goma who first started participating in Save the Children’s sponsorship program in 2014. “My school is much better now and so are my teachers,” she continues, “especially Lila ma’am and Sushil sir. They teach us Nepali and math.”

Goma playing her favorite game, football, with a school friend

Trained by Save the Children, the teachers in Goma’s school gain the trust of students by being polite, attentive, and responsive to their questions and individual needs in class. Discarding all forms of corporal punishment are some important lessons given to teachers during teacher trainings. “Lila ma’am asks us several questions before starting her lessons. Once she starts the lesson, we realize the questions are related to the current chapter. This helps us remember and understand important points made in the chapter,” explains Goma. In addition to that, Lila and other teachers in Goma’s school make sure they connect with their students by sharing interesting general knowledge they have learned.

Goma sitting outside her school

Goma adds that Save the Children programs, as well as her sponsor Paola’s kind advice to study well and take care of her health, motivated her to become a doctor in the future. “Knowing about her concern for me, it feels like she is my sister even though I have never met her.”

This was probably one of my last visits to Kapilvastu, as Save the Children will hand over the programs for continuation to the community and local government agencies by early 2020. Save the Children has now moved to other impoverished areas in the Mahottari and Sarlahi districts where lack of quality education and basic health facilities, as well as child marriage are just a few of the greater challenges for children.

Leaving No Child Behind

author-portrait_rupa-gautam-media-and-communication-officerRupa Gautam

Media and Communication Officer

Save the Children Nepal-Bhutan

October 12, 2016

It was during one of my regular visits to a Sponsorship supported school when I met Kajal. Attentive, curious, interactive and joyful, Kajal was participating in all her class activities with great enthusiasm. She looked like all the other kids throughout the class, reading and writing alongside her classmates. It wasn’t until she walked up to her teacher with a question that I realized that her legs were weak and uneven, and that she could not walk properly.

Kajal practicing newly learned words.

I wanted to know more about this bright eyed girl. So, I inquired about her with her teacher. Her teacher excitedly shared that their village, with a total of six schools, would not have reached their milestone of 100% enrollment in the current academic year if Kajal had been left behind at home, like she was the previous year.

Save the Children has been very persistent in getting every last child enrolled in school. Seven-year-old Kajal used to stay at home while the rest of her family, made up of her parents and two elder siblings, went about their own business outside of the house. Nobody in her family believed that schooling would do her any good, due to her condition.

Kajal showed me how she wrote her name. Her name means kohl, which is used to line one’s eyes in Nepal. She also showed me her drawings and read to me from her grade one book. Since she did not go to Save the Children’s Early Childhood Care and Development center before grade one, like so many of the other kids in her community did, she has a little difficulty in reading and writing. But Kajal doesn’t let that stop her from learning. I saw this myself – when she had trouble writing a word she didn’t know, she asked for my help, then shyly handed me her paper and asked if I would check her classwork.

Every year, out-of-school children are identified in the communities where we work.

Kajal (first left) engaged in the days lesson
Kajal (first left) engaged in the days lesson.

We reach out to their parents and advise them about the importance of enrolling their children in school. Those out-of-school children, which often includes children with special needs like Kajal, are brought to school with sponsorship supported programming that includes parent orientations, door-to-door visits, counseling sessions and educational material support to ensure that no child is left behind at home.

Kajal’s success is just the beginning of what we hope to achieve for the children of Nepal. All of us here at Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan are eager to continue working in these areas – to commit each parent to sending all their sons and daughters to school. And with our sponsors by our side, they will, because every last child matters.

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

The Proud Mothers of Saptari

ANimma Adhikari

Sponsorship Communication Officer

Save the Children Nepal-Bhutan

September 29, 2016

If you travel to the southwest of Saptari, you will find yourself in the middle of tall, green rice paddy fields. We were awed by the beautiful, flowing green colors, where electric water pumps stream in a constant water source. However, as we moved deeper inside the village, the green turned to bare dry land, reflecting much more the living conditions of the families that call this area home.

A couple of weeks ago, we met with the community members and parents of children enrolled in our sponsorship programs in a village in Saptari district, our new programmatic area. Our intention was to determine how the community members felt about Sponsorship in their village so far, and how much they have understood about our programming, since we just recently began working in this area. Community members gathered with us in a small classroom, ready to listen attentively to what Sponsorship ultimately means for their children and families.

Guheshwori signs her own name on the attendees list, with a quiet but proud smile.
Guheshwori signs her own name on the attendees list, with a quiet but proud smile.

We had made sure to request female participation as well, since we anticipated the meeting would be filled with eager male voices only. We were glad to see several concerned mothers, draped in sari, their heads covered to veil their faces from the men in the room. I watched closely as one of the women, I later learned is named Guheshwori, signed her own name to the attendees list. For a woman, to be able to sign your name in a rural community such as this is very rare. I watched a quiet smile appear on her face as she signed, radiating female pride in joining this organized meeting, the kind of community event typically reserved for the men.

During the meeting, Guheshwori looked at me and smiled. She told me, “My sons are enrolled in the program,” in the Nepali language. I was surprised to hear Nepali spoken in this village, and must have looked it, because she then explained, “I am from Gaighat. I used to speak in Nepali but I started speaking in Maithili [the local language in the village] only after moving here after marriage.” She then started telling me how excited her children were to be enrolled in Sponsorship. One of her sons had even already started bringing program lessons home with him! He had approached her and began explaining eagerly why she must wash her hands before eating and after going to the toilet.

“My children tell me everything. They tell me what they want to study in the future and what they wish to become when they grow up,” Guheshwori went on. “I understand education is very important for my children. Only education will help them transform this community.”

 Guheshwori, second from the left, and the other female attendees playfully show the peace sign.
Guheshwori, second from the left, and the other female attendees playfully show the peace sign.

I nodded with happiness. This short conversation I had with this proud mother was more than enough to make my day. It showed me that even though we’ve just started forming a relationship with this village, already the benefits of our work is being realized.

When the meeting concluded, I was assured that Guheshwori, along with the other mothers who joined the meeting, would stop at nothing to see that their children were provided an education. And while doing so, she would gradually inspire her neighbors to join her in being just as involved.

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