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"Helping Hand" of the Month
Click here to read HelloLife.org's Spotlight September 2002: An interview with
Mira Rana, Program Director, ETC - Nepal
Educate the Children (ETC) is an NGO whose mission is to provide educational opportunities for low income women and children in Nepal. ETC's programs include scholarships for indigent children, improvement of public school facilities, establishment of public kindergartens, and programs for rural women that include literacy, health education and income generation. In addition to many programs in the Kathmandu Valley, ETC works in seven Village Development Committees in the districts of Nuwakot and Rusuwa, northwest of Kathmandu.
ETC began in 1990 as a child sponsorship organization through the efforts of founding director Pamela Carson. One day while touring Nepal, she met three street children in Kathmandu who wanted, more than anything else, to go to school. She decided to cover the $1,200 it would cost for them to do this. Then on her next visit to Nepal, other children recognized her and sought her out, asking for help to go to school. Pamela helped two more, but realized that she did not have the budget to educate all the street children in Nepal. Instead she came home and started raising funds to enable more Nepali children to go to school. She also adopted Ram Thapa, one of the street children she had met.
Pamela recognized that the organization could be much more effective by using its limited funds to work with communities, rather than only individuals, and after 1994 no new sponsored children were added. However a commitment had been made to both the already sponsored children and those sponsoring them, so ETC has continued to support these children to the highest educational level they can achieve. At present there are 59 children in schools in Kathmandu; 14 of these are in post-secondary education.
ETC's rural development program began in 1994 in an area northwest of Kathmandu. ETC launched a combined and complementary education and womenís development program, realizing that in order to improve the situation of children, it is crucial to improve the status and well-being of their mothers. Over time, it has become clear that working across generations has also served to strengthen and reinforce the work: a newly literate women could better understand and push for her daughter to continue on to high school while a girl in high school could assist and support her motherís steps toward literacy. Nepal is one of only four countries in the world where womenís life expectancy is lower than menís: a reflection of womenís exceptionally low status. Overall, women work harder and eat less than men in Nepali society.
ETC's educational program involves school infrastructure improvements, teacher training, scholarships and a kindergarten program. Working in 43 rural and 3 urban schools, ETC, in collaboration with local people, has improved school infrastructure which previously ranged from non-existent to completely inadequate. The labor required to repair roofs, install windows, build benches with built in tables, construct play areas and so on was donated by the community. At the same time, in a country where there is no required training for primary teachers, ETC has instituted in-service training for the over 200 teachers in the area.
ETC programs are run by a professional Nepali staff based in Kathmandu and Manegaun (in the Rasuwa-Nuwakot project area). The US-based program office of three persons serves largely to raise funds and monitor programs to ensure financial accountability and quality. There are 30-40 volunteers at any one time (almost twice the number of staff), including some Nepalis.
It has been a tumultuous year for Nepal, with the killing of the Royal family and the civil unrest of the Maoist movement. The need for programs like the ones ETC runs is all the greater at a time like this.
Start today, become a Helping Hand Yourself!
Click here to find out what your role can be as a Helping Hand to help Educate the Children help others. You may sponsor a child to go to school, provide for a ventilated stove for a family in Nepal, buy a goat for a women's group member, or a water tap for several families to share.
See http://www.etc-nepal.org for more information on Educate the Children
They may be contacted at email@example.com
HelloLife.org thanks Susanna Pearce for this story