Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF)

The Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF; formerly the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation, NYOF) is devoted to bringing hope to the most destitute children in the beautiful but impoverished Himalayan country of Nepal. With a personal touch, we provide these children with what should be every child's birthright - education, housing, medical care, and loving support. Empowered to reach their potential, these children blossom, enriching the world we all share.
Apr 16, 2012

A Mysterious Illness Cured by Psychological Therapy in Nepal

Psychological counseling at Ankur
Psychological counseling at Ankur

Psychological counseling in Nepal is in its infancy, although many children suffer from emotional trauma. NYF’s Ankur Counseling Center is a pioneer in psychological therapy for disadvantaged children in Nepal. Ankur also offers a wide range of training for people who work with youth.

Since the Ankur Counseling Center began in 2006, it has provided free psychological counseling to 2213 underprivileged children. In 2011-2012, 604 people benefited from therapy at Ankur. The Center also held 28 training sessions and workshops through the year for 415 participants.

NYF’s Solution

Emotional health is largely neglected in Nepal and psychology is only beginning to gain acceptance. However, many people, especially disabled children, orphans, and homeless youth, suffer from oppression and discrimination.

To meet this need, the Nepal Youth Foundation established the Ankur Counseling Center in 2006. Ankur’s counselors, who have Masters degrees in clinical psychology, provide psychosocial therapy to hundreds of underprivileged children every year. This counseling is enabling children who have endured unimaginable hardships at very young ages to fulfill their potential.

In addition to individual counseling, Ankur’s therapists run group therapy sessions and workshops for youth. These are very beneficial to the boys and girls who live at J and K House, NYF’s children’s homes, many of whom face similar emotional and behavioral challenges. The therapy sessions teach children about interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and leadership, and the workshops cover topics such as stress management and drug abuse.

Ankur is the first center in Nepal to use sand play therapy, a form of psychological therapy which transcends language and is therefore particularly suitable to the needs of children. Ankur’s counselors now train other psychologists to use sand play therapy.  

The Center complements its psychosocial counseling with a wide range of trainings and workshops for hundreds of people every year. The participants, who come from throughout Nepal to attend the trainings, include professionals and students in the field of psychology, child care professionals, teachers, and parents, as well as children. Ankur also provides trainings for child care professionals, such as are therapists, teachers, and staff of orphanages.  Some of the topics are Peer Counseling, Parenting skills, Creative Movement Therapy, Positive Discipline, and Motivational Communication Skills.

Additionally, Ankur offers internships to college students in Nepal who are pursuing degrees in social work. The interns actively participate in many of the activities at the Center and gain a greater understanding of the importance of psychosocial care.

Counseling for Girls Rescued from Bondage 

Ankur has established a second counseling center in Western Nepal for girls NYF has freed from childhoods spent in indentured servitude. Many of these girls have been severely traumatized and their emotional needs have largely been neglected. NYF has trained 45 rescued girls to be peer counselors, and in 2011-2012, the girls formed 75 support groups with a total of 783 members. Ankur’s counselors traveled throughout the program area to monitor the support groups and arrange further training for the peer counselors.

Sustainability of the Program

The Ankur Counseling Center has made its counseling and other programs available to everyone in the Kathmandu area, with an emphasis on children. The income generated through this counseling partially funds the free treatment for disadvantaged children, helping the Center become sustainable. The counselors use television and radio to raise awareness about the importance of psychological counseling and encourage people to come to Ankur.

Some of the programs that generate income include a Psychological Care Camp for children and teens during their winter vacation from school, parenting classes that teach parents and teachers how to create child-friendly environments in schools and homes, and specialized training programs for child care staff.

A Mysterious Illness Cured by Therapy

Sunita, a student in 9th grade, suffered from headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, and was performing poorly in school. Ankur’s counselor found that she was very afraid of the future and felt pressured to excel in school to "be somebody." Her fears had produced physical symptoms.

Through techniques including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Sand Tray Therapy, Ankur’s psychologist explored Sunita’s problem and reduced her fears. The counselor taught her relaxation techniques and had her study, eat, and sleep according to a set schedule. After six therapy sessions, Sunita passed her high school examinations and is now studying in college.

A student does sand play therapy
A student does sand play therapy
A girl and a psychological counselor
A girl and a psychological counselor

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Apr 16, 2012

A pioneering model of treatment for children in Nepal with HIV/AIDS

A mother and baby being treated for HIV/AIDS
A mother and baby being treated for HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is a rapidly growing problem in Nepal, fueled by ignorance about HIV prevention and brutal discrimination against people with AIDS. Many children with HIV are forced to leave their schools, and infected women are often abandoned by their husbands. Because of this stigma, many people avoid being tested and hide their symptoms of AIDS for as long as possible. According to a U.N. study, more than 80% of Nepalis with HIV have not been diagnosed. 

NYF’s Solution

NYF’s New Life Center is a pioneer in treatment for children with HIV/AIDS in Nepal. The program provides lifesaving treatment to youngsters while teaching their caretakers, most of whom also have HIV, to live hygienically and cook nutritious meals. This training dramatically reduces the risk of acquiring the illnesses that make HIV develop into AIDS, and lets infected people lead fulfilling lives. During the months that children and their guardians spend at the Center, they receive food, housing, and all medical treatment for free.

Since the New Life Center opened in 2006, it has provided more than 140 HIV-positive children with happy, fulfilling childhoods. In 2011-2012, it gave life-saving and life-extending treatment to 47 children and their caretakers.

The New Life Center can house 18 children and their guardians, who live there for several months. It is the only facility in Nepal that uses a comprehensive, holistic approach to helping HIV-positive children. Its nurses, nutritionist, doctor, and other staff provide:
For the children:  education and enriching activities
For their caretakers:  training in nutrition, health, literacy, and income generation
For both:  nutritious meals, 24-hour medical care, and counseling to improve their self-confidence and help them manage the stigma of HIV/AIDS

Most children who are admitted to the Center suffer from health problems such as malnutrition and tuberculosis. Rather than only treating their symptoms, the Center implements a three-pronged approach consisting of clinical therapy, nutritional therapy, and psychological therapy. While the nurses treat the patients’ health issues and give anti-retroviral drugs to reduce the effects of HIV infection, the professional nutritionist and cook plan and prepare healthy, well rounded meals. Professional psychological counselors help the children and their guardians learn to live with the stigma of HIV/AIDS and improve their self-esteem.

The nurses and nutritionist complement the treatment with a series of educational programs for the caretakers. The topics include nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, the dietary needs of children of different ages, reproductive health, and illnesses that commonly afflict people with HIV. This training enables the parents to avoid many of the diseases that are particularly dangerous to HIV-positive people and to eat a balanced diet using inexpensive, locally available foods to keep themselves and their children as healthy as possible. The children also participate in enrichment activities such as celebrating Nepali festivals and taking trips to the zoo.

After several months, when the patients’ health problems have been alleviated and the caretakers are fully trained, they return to their homes. Many live productive lives for years by practicing what they learned at the New Life Center. If they need additional treatment or if their health worsens, they can return to the Center for free follow-up care at any time. The program truly gives new life to children with HIV/AIDS.

The Center’s staff has taken initiative to raise money for the program. In addition to requesting donations from visitors and supporters, they print and sell t-shirts and notecards. They formed a partnership with Heifer International which contributed two cows, who are a source of fresh milk to nourish the children and sell for additional income. 

Sustainability of the Program

The New Life Center’s comprehensive care model is a key to its success. Most children arrive at the Center with full-blown AIDS, including illnesses like tuberculosis, malnutrition, and hepatitis, and return home with only HIV, ready to go to school and enjoy a happy childhood. If children with HIV live hygienically, eat a nutritious diet, and try to avoid infections, they can typically expect to lead full and meaningful lives for around 25 years. By that time, it is likely that additional treatments will be available to extend their lives even further.

Two Lives Transformed by the New Life Center

When Gita’s son, who was HIV-positive from birth, came down with a fever, tuberculosis, and other illnesses, the doctors at the local government hospital refused to help him because she couldn't afford the treatment. She was alone, destitute, and heartbroken, until someone recommended the New Life Center.

"After coming to the New Life Center, my son and I both got healthier and gained weight," Gita said. "I learned about a balanced diet, health, and hygiene. I gained self-confidence, and I learned how to deal with discrimination about HIV/AIDS and stand up for my rights." After two months at the Center, she and her child were healthy and ready to resume their lives. Gita is now employed as a social motivator, training HIV-positive women. "At the New Life Center, I became empowered. Now I feel confident enough to do anything."

A girl with HIV gets unimagined opportunities
A girl with HIV gets unimagined opportunities
Happy, healthy parents, kids, and staff
Happy, healthy parents, kids, and staff

Links:

Apr 16, 2012

A blind student sees "with the eyes of education"

A disabled boy is happy for the gift of education
A disabled boy is happy for the gift of education

Countless children in Nepal are blind, deaf, or physically disabled due to dietary deficiencies and lack of medical care. They seldom have an opportunity to show that they can be productive members of society. Tuition at schools that accommodate the needs of disabled students is usually more than the annual income of a Nepali family. Thus, only 30% of the disabled are educated; the rest are relegated to barren lives, unable to read, write, or earn a living.

NYF gave scholarships to 69 disabled children in 2011-2012. Education is generally the only way the disabled in Nepal can support themselves.

NYF’s Solution

NYF has paid special attention to blind, deaf, and physically challenged children, giving 188 of them scholarships since its inception. If they can enter regular school or college, NYF enrolls them there. For other children, the best place is a special school that meets their needs. NYF gives them hope, a chance to demonstrate their capabilities and proudly learn to support themselves. The program has been highly successful. Many of its graduates are now providing for themselves and their families. Some are paying their own way through graduate school.

I Can See with the Eyes of Education

A blind student receiving a college scholarship described the impact of NYF on her life: “If NYF had not supported me, I would have been a beggar wandering on the streets or I could have even died. Because of this support…I am satisfied with my life. Even if I couldn’t see the material world with my eyes, I can always see the world with the eyes of my education and knowledge…If I was not able to get this support, I would have been blind from both internally as well as externally.”

A disabled girl with unimagined opportunities
A disabled girl with unimagined opportunities
An NYF scholarship lets her fulfill her dreams
An NYF scholarship lets her fulfill her dreams

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