As part of our Taught, Not Trafficked campaign, the Girls Education Summit in Nepal was held by Childreach Nepal to improve support for girls’ education at all levels.
On 18th November 2016, we brought together key influencers from across Nepal to take action and forge paths towards keeping children, and especially girls, in school. The summit also gave 150 children an opportunity to outline their situation in their own communities, discussing their access to and quality of education, as well as the effect this has on their vulnerability to abuse and exploitation.
Featuring speakers and panelists from local schools, research centres, and NGOs, we discussed the following topics;
Launch of new menstruation programme
Childreach Nepal also unveiled the pilot for their new programme ‘Chhori – An Empowering Journey Towards Womanhood’, known affectionately by our UK team as #ProjectPeriod.
Nisha Adhikari, actress and advocate for menstruation awareness, shared her personal experiences of menstruation – and how the support and understanding of her family allowed her to continue her education, and to even reach the summit of Everest in her adulthood whilst menstruating.
We recognised the need for this programme because up to 21% of girls miss classes every month as a result of their period. Women’s empowerment should start at an early age, and it is essential that families and communities are educated on the truths around menstruation so that girls can stay in school.
In response, we are launching a start up entrepreneurship opportunity in Shree Chilaune Secondary School, which will enable girls to produce biodegradable, low cost sanitary pads to sell to the community. We look forward to updating you on this in the near future.
Imagine this, a cool, overcast, rainy day in rural Nepal. The lush greenery of the surrounding mountains and valleys is on the horizon, and there is an excited buzz in the village. On this day, Tuesday 20th September 2016, Childreach Nepal opened a further 62 classrooms for the children and families of Thangpalkot and Thandpaldhap in Sindhupalchowk.
Totalling 86 classrooms, our team in Nepal have overcome some insurmountable challenges to ensure that the children of Sindhupalchowk can return to education after the earthquakes of 2015, which destroyed thousands and thousands of their schools.
One man has been at the forefront of our movement to ensure that children are safe in the villages of Sindhupalchowk, and that they can be Taught, Not Trafficked after the earthquakes. That man is Urgen, a larger than life personality with a relentless motivation. Here’s what he had to say about the journey:
“This latest opening has got me a little nostalgic. I was looking over the rolling hills from Ali’s tea shop towards Banskharka – where it all started. Nearly 18 months have passed and I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for the Childreach Family. I felt a need to express my gratitude.
In late April 2015, I was in a state of confusion. Way too much happened, and almost immediately after the earthquake we started talking about rebuilding the schools for the children. But I was unsure how to go about it. We were a child right’s charity not development. But by June we were ready to start the rebuild. It happened so fast, it was nothing short of remarkable.
We embarked into uncharted territory for us. I recall drawing page after page of school structure designs with Dr Tshering Lama (our Country Director) of how we envisioned they should look. I remember the rush to the Department of Education to get our agreement signed to build the new classrooms, to enable them to get back on their feet as well. It has been the biggest learning experience, but all worth it as I feel elation at seeing the children come back to school – and that they were able to sit their School Leaver Certificate exams to complete their education.
Just a word of encouragement was all it took to help me believe that we could do this. I remember Firoz Patel (CEO) being in Nepal and saying to me, “dude, you own this.” Those words did wonders as the confidence to tread further surged through me even when on the verge of giving up.
We first began constructing our classrooms amidst political unrest. It was a hot summer and we had no access to fuel. The trucks with our materials were being held at the borders by the blockade. This delay felt eternal to us at the time, but we never gave up.
The families at Banskharka had lost their homes – all a pile of rubble that needed to be cleared. Yet the entire community stood together and recognised the importance of an education for their children, especially as an opportunity not all of them had. They took ownership of the construction and made it all their own. This was evident when they warned us to postpone work due to bad weather conditions, and advice on how to reduce expenses.
At the same time, our own young Anamika was ever ready to hit the road to assess the progress of the schools and ensure the communities had all that they needed. These schools are the fruit of her labour. Thank you for walking that mile with me, going through that hardship during a most difficult time. You have my respect.
We took that leap into ensuring that children could return to school, but to do so we desperately needed support and funds. The entire team in the Nepal office were invaluable in ensuring that we had everything we needed. Our colleagues in the UK leapt to our aid. But it was ultimately thanks to every person who donated money, time and expertise to our cause. To all of those wonderful people who fundraised for us in our time of need. To every member of the Childreach family who rose to the challenge.
The 20th September 2016 was a day of reckoning, and I was able to share my joy with all of my inspiring colleagues, the resilient villagers of Sindhupalchowk and the excited children eager to learn in their new classrooms.
To all of you, thank you.”
- Urgen Lama
To celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the team behind our Sports Initiative in Nepal organised a special football festival for the children, teachers and community members of Thangpalkot in Sindhupalchowk.
Just over a month ago, teachers and community members from Thangpalkot, Thangpaldhap and Banskharka had the idea of a festival. The concept was to bring together all three communities in a celebration of child rights. All members agreed that World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was the perfect day to choose, as it was an opportunity to raise awareness about child trafficking in Nepal and about safe migration – a key component of our Taught, Not Trafficked campaign.
Four schools were chosen from the communities, all of which have had new classrooms built and completed by Childreach Nepal following the destruction of their previous classrooms in the earthquakes of 2015.
The Childreach Nepal team left for the village three days before the event. Due to a very heavy rainfall and several landslides, they had to abandon their vehicles and walk for seven hours to reach the village of Manekharka. Once you reach the village, the schools are once again busy having just opened again after their monsoon break (the time for sowing rice and paddy).
There was a lot of buzz in the community about the festivals. Our team heard people speaking about it in the local tea shops. The children were also getting up early each morning to train and practice.
There were concerns about the weather, as the forecast was heavy rain and thunderstorms, and the day did start dark and gloomy with a light drizzle. The students from the My School, My Voice programme prepared a speech on the importance of human trafficking awareness, and how communities can come together to combat trafficking. Local leaders and members of the police force were also in attendance to hear this message. The students demonstrated some of the ‘sport for development’ games we use as part of our Sports Initiative with Coaches Across Continents. At this point, the rain stopped. Members of the community were able to join our team to watch the football matches.
With three categories (students, teachers and parents), the games were played with adapted rules. Each team consisted of 12 players, with 7 playing at any one time. Of these 7, there had to be 3 females on the field. If the female scored the points we doubled. Childreach Nepal implemented this to promote gender equality in the community and to demonstrate that if girls are given the same opportunities they are capable of achieving anything.
Over 500 spectators joined the event, laughing and cheering for their favourite teams – especially whilst watching the parents and teachers play one another. Childreach Nepal also played a special friendly against another local NGO called ARSOW Nepal. (Side note, our team won 4-0.)
The festival was a huge success. The villagers were very grateful to Childreach Nepal for bringing the three communities together, especially as a successful conflict resolution following past altercations in the communities over the years. Everyone came together for a positive message with a powerful impact. Sport is a wonderful medium to break barriers and challenge harmful practices.