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 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

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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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Mar 13, 2012

NYOF's project to rescue girls from bonded servitude is spreading across Nepal!

Girls rescued by NYOF reflect on their troubled past
Girls rescued by NYOF reflect on their troubled past

Although the government of Nepal is undergoing more tumultuous changes, including a new Prime Minister, NYOF’s programs in Nepal are continuing to transform the lives of impoverished children and provide them with unimagined opportunities.

NYOF’s Indentured Daughters Program rescues girls from bonded servitude, sponsors their education, and provides each family with a piglet or goat to compensate for the income they would have gained from selling their daughter. We first introduced this program in the Dang district of Nepal in 2000, and we have virtually eliminated the bonding practice there. When we brought our program to Dang, fathers would boast about the number of daughters they had bonded away, local politicians would arrange labor contracts as favors to their constituents, the streets were filled with labor contractors coming to buy the girls’ services, and the bus park with frightened, weeping little girls about to be sent off they knew not where.

Today, nine years later, although a few girls are still bonded away in Dang, the arrangements are made between the fathers of the girls and the labor contractors on the sly and the family is looked down upon in the community. Thousands of liberated girls marched in a parade last January to celebrate their freedom, and at the rally that ended the parade, the Chief District Officer of Dang (similar to a Governor) declared Dang a zone free of bonded labor. For the first time ever in Nepal, the local police arrested the few labor contractors who dared to come to the district to make bonding arrangements. (The practice has been ruled illegal by the Nepali Supreme Court in a suit brought by NYOF.)

We recently visited the nearby Kailali district where the bonding custom is still prevalent because NYOF has not been able to start its abolition program yet. There, every January when the selling of girls takes place, men in leather jackets wearing dark glasses and sporting cell phones ride through the village streets on their motorcycles to buy child servants. One, a journalist, was there to renew the contract of a 16 year old. Another, who had engaged the services of a 10 year old in his home the previous year, also wanted to renew the contract and in addition, to buy another girl to work in his second home. The father refused an offer of $80 for a year of his daughter’s services, and the buyer went elsewhere to make his deal. As we discovered later, the father had already reached an agreement with another buyer for $95 for the year, half of it up front. (A price considerably higher than average.) All through these negotiations, Kausi, their daughter, sat silently and sadly on the bench in front of their hut, one parent on each side, as the adults haggled over the price of her future.

A couple of years ago, we extended our program to the Bardiya district, where it has been very successful - we have rescued about 1000 girls to date. With your support, we will soon eliminate the bonding tradition from Bardiya, and within a few years, from all of Nepal. Thank you for supporting some of the most disadvantaged children in Nepal.

Please let us know your thoughts about this project by providing feedback in our comments section!

NYOF rescued this girl and gave her family this goat
NYOF rescued this girl and gave her family this goat

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