The community center at Her Farm is officially open, though we've still some painting and decorating to do. The electronic learning lab is a smash hit. For the first time ever, youth in the village can learn how to use a computer. Teachers from the local school are coming every day to learn as well. We have four regular computers at the moment and the most interest thus far is learning to type and using painting programs. Our fifth computer is a MacMini connected to a large screen TV that is used as part of the English language teaching at the farm and has grammar programs, word programs and teaching tools for classroom use. So far about 12 young people come every morning before school and a similar number after school each day to use the computers. Five teachers from the local school as well.
In addition to being a great learning resource the community space has been extremely popular for FIFA World Cup. Everyone in Nepal is crazy about the game and the 42 inch LED TV has been getting a nightly workout as our neighbors gather to watch the world cup.
The Breakfast Club at Her Farm doesn't star Judd Nelson or Molly Ringwald and certainly isn't about a bunch of kids spending time in detention, though I admit that was a good movie in its time. In the village of Mankhu, The Breakfast Club is quite different. We have students who come early, hours before their regular school time just to study English. The regular school in the village starts at 10am, but these students show up as early as 7am for English classes as they are that eager to learn. Many of them don't have enough food at home, or they arrive at Her Farm so early, we were concerned about them getting a good breakfast so they'd have the energy to study all day as we know a great many of them will not have any lunch. Unlike our western schools, there isn't a lunch program at the village school in Mankhu. Students must pack a lunch, which they call tiffin, and we see very few children with lunch packed for school. So, we began the breakfast club. At 7am we have a good hot breakfast ready at Her Farm and all the children who have come for lessons first enjoy a good meal, then attend English class. We know we've given them a good start for the day and served up a hearty meal that will hold them throughout the day. Attendance has gone up for classes as a result, especially amongst the girls. In many Nepali families, the men and boys eat first, the women next and last to eat are the girls. That means for many of the young girls it's slim pickens for breakfast and we think that's one reason so many young girls are joining the breakfast club at Her Farm.
Followers of this project and readers of our updates about it are well aware that Bina Basnet started something unique and wonderful when she founded Orchid Garden. It's a project full of good deeds that has helped hundreds of children. That's all good of course, but as a donor myself to this project I was elated to read that Bina has been recognized by the Management Association of Nepal for her skills as a manager. It's always heartwarming to read how young, at-risk youth have been helped by Orchid Garden, we all get a case of warn-fuzzies about that. As a donor though, it's also great to know that good management is in place to use donations wisely and to administer the program well. The recognition of Bina by the Management Association of Nepal demonstrates that this isn't only a warm-fuzzy, feel good project to support; it's well run and donations are used wisely. I like knowing that, I hope you do as well.