The Mountain Fund

The mission of The Mountain Fund is to eliminate poverty, its causes and symptoms, in developing mountain communities around the world.
May 27, 2010

Daycare Center Site Visit

Bina in one of the new classrooms
Bina in one of the new classrooms

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On May 3rd he visited the Orchid Garden daycare center, an organization The Mountain Fund sends volunteers to in Kathmandu, Nepal. His “Postcard” from the visit:

I love meeting with organizations who’d rather not be working with GlobalGiving—that is, organizations that understand the importance of financial self-sustainability, even for non-profits, and have a plan to get to the point where they don’t rely on philanthropy. It’s even more impressive when that organization is providing a service to a poor community. Bina Basnet, the dynamic founder of the Orchid Garden daycare center, says that it’s “not good to be always asking people for money.” She has a few approaches in mind to move toward not having to.

She employs four quality teachers from the area and hopes to build a “reputation for excellence”, so that middle income families, who are more able to pay, will also send their kids to Orchid Garden. Bina thinks they may be able to make things in the school facilities, for instance food dishes, that they could sell locally. She wants to start offering an adjacent flat to volunteers who come to work at the daycare center. Merely offering her service allows parents to work more and hence be more able to pay (currently about 30% give a nominal sum). And on a bit longer (and more aspirational) timescale, Bina hopes to help empower the next generation to change Nepal.

According to Bina when some funding for the new building fell through, she decided to go ahead anyway, borrowing money from her cousin. The building is now complete and opened in time for the recent start of the new school year. GlobalGiving funds will therefore be going toward helping Orchid Garden pay back this money.

Unfortunately due to the general strike called by the Maoists, there were no students at the school the day I visited, but the new building is much more like a proper school than the old building. There are separate rooms for the different age groups, age 2-6 years, (younger kids are in the old building) with benches and desks and tables, storage areas, plenty of light and a fresh coat of paint. Throw in a meal during the day and it’s not a bad value for 0 rupees for low income parents.

Welcome
Welcome
The new building
The new building
May 20, 2010

Opening of the Preschool - on credit

The finished Preschool - Built on Credit
The finished Preschool - Built on Credit

During the last couple of months Bina Basnet, Mountain Fund volunteers and Orchid Garden Nepal’s mothers have worked very hard. Now Orchid Garden Nepal’s Preschool is finished and on May 17th it was inaugurated. 100 more underprivileged children in Kathmandu will now receive preschool and primary education while their parents can work, knowing that their children are safe. Bina has hired new staff members to teach at the preschool and as always, she is happy to have volunteers give a hand as well (people interested should contact volunteer@mountainfund.org). The new people on board will help ensure that the 100 needing children are all well-fed, healthy and stimulated, while most importantly, making sure that they do not end up on the streets later in their lives from lack of opportunities. As part of the expansion of Orchid Garden Nepal’s facilities, OGN is now launching a new program where donors can sponsor one of the children already in OGN’s daycare facility in order to help the center take in more children. The current sponsorship program enables donors to sponsor a different child (typically a sibling of a child in the daycare) of school age, while this new change will add extra toddlers in day care center and take them all the way through 12th grade without adding strain to OGN’s budget. So for as little as $280 or €200 per year or $24 or €17 per month, you can support OGN’s expansion and help us reach more underprivileged children, and many such children are waiting for just one opportunity for a life without poverty. This amount will cover all expenses for either taking care of an underprivileged toddler in Orchid Garden Nepal’s day care center and later through 12th grade or for sending an equally needy, but older child to school all the way through 12th grade. Bina and Orchid Garden is an Nepal-based NGO supported by the Mountain Fund, a US registered charity, but unfortunately, even our combined efforts have not been enough to raise the necessary funds to build the preschool so far. Bina, passionate about her work as she is, personally took a loan to cover the costs of hiring workers as well as asked shopkeepers to give her some months worth of credit, which they have granted - as long as she pays steep interest rates of course. While the lease for the plot has been secured for four years, the costs of the construction and the costs of feeding, clothing, educating and safeguarding an extra 100 toddlers have not been raised and this significantly exceeds Orchid Garden Nepal’s current expenses - upwards $28,000 or €20,000 per year. Orchid Garden Nepal and the Mountain Fund greatly appreciate any support you can give however small it may be, for as Bina always says: “A little goes a long way.” Thank you in advance.

Inauguration of the new Preschool
Inauguration of the new Preschool
OGN provides lunch for all children in it
OGN provides lunch for all children in it's care

Links:

Mar 24, 2010

The beginning of a new life

First of all a huge thank you to donors, who have supported Punarbal Plus so far. We thank you for enabling us to help children in need. While the children attend school and are busy preparing for their exams, life at Punarbal Plus ashram becomes more and more settled. The Nepali academic year runs from April to March and the children are busy revising for their exams in end of March, all of them feeling the benefit of proper nutrition and housing. One of the girls in particular has felt the benefits of getting proper nutrition and not having to help out at a farm anymore: Ramita Devkota was born in 2002 Nov, at Motipur VDC in Kailali District. She is the eldest among her three brothers and a sister. Though she has 4 siblings none of them are alive; all have died due to AIDS. It was only after the death of the third child that her mother found our that she too is infected with HIV. The grief made her father unable to work or care for the family, since he correctly realized that it was his unsafe sexual life that had led to the family’s tragedy. The family hoped that Ramita did not have HIV. However, one day, when a spout of chicken pox became complicated, they went to the hospital where they not only discovered that she was indeed infected but also that her CD4 count was at a life-threatening 128 and she was prescribed ARV immediately. She was then taken to Kathmandu for further treatment and asked to stay at Punarbal Plus ashram since she badly wanted to study, and the local school in Kailali had thrown her out when her status became known. After three months at Punarbal Plus her CD4 count has increased to 374 and she has gained three kg. She wishes to become a doctor and is studying hard to achieve this. Punarbal Plus wants to help her and we hope that you also do.

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