Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal

by Educate the Children
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Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
Better lives for 1,000 families in Ramdhuni, Nepal
A meeting of Munibana Women's Group
A meeting of Munibana Women's Group

Thanks to you, our terrific friends and supporters, ETC has been able to help 1,000 families and indeed entire communities to build better lives.

  • More than 1,000 women's group members have been able to grow food year-round. Even those whose families own no land can grow vegetables in containers, on rooftops, or against walls or fences, for example. Some women can sell excess produce for additional household income.
  • Many dozens of women have been more thoroughly trained in cultivation of specific crops and in livestock management. These women are able to increase their household incomes by 25% or more in some cases - a big step toward getting out of cyclical poverty and staying out.
  • Twelve schools and an additional eleven affiliated early childhood education centers have been supported with teacher training and networking opportunities, furniture, classroom materials, and physical improvements such as toilet construction or renovation.

These are just a few highlights of the work that has been accomplished since we started working in Ramdhuni Municipality. And we're not done yet - the agricultural training, school support, and other activities will be continued in these villages through mid-2026. This will allow us to provide the types of training and support that are needed and wanted to the greatest number of women and families.

Again, we thank you for making it all possible. We will also be very grateful for your continued support of ETC's work via our recently posted GlobalGiving project if you so choose. We'll be focusing on raising money for this early education project during the forthcoming Giving Tuesday campaign, which will be on November 29th and through which ETC can earn a share of $1,200,000 in available incentive funds! More information forthcoming as the date draws near.

In the meantime, please do let us know if you have any questions or comments about the work you've supported so generously. 

Sunder Women's Group making organic pesticide
Sunder Women's Group making organic pesticide
Market gardening
Market gardening
Livestock management training participants
Livestock management training participants
Teacher training participants
Teacher training participants
A sixth-grade student proudly shows her work
A sixth-grade student proudly shows her work

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Art time at one of ETC's supported schools
Art time at one of ETC's supported schools

After such a long period of on-and-off COVID-related disruption, it is so exciting and gratifying that the schools in rural Ramdhuni Municipality, Nepal are operating consistently once again! 

ETC and local partner Save the Earth are working directly and intensively with a dozen primary and secondary schools as well as with eleven additional ECD (early childhood development) classrooms. The latter are affiliated with the local schools, but there is simply not enough space for them on the school campuses, so they are being housed in other community buildings. All in all, more than 2,500 students ages 3 to 18 attend these schools and ECD classrooms.

Each school has a "wish list" of physical resources and improvements - classroom furniture and educational materials, recreational equipment, and infrastructure upgrades such as drinking water access or toilet construction. Our staff works directly with the headmasters and teachers to prioritize our activities year by year, ensuring that the schools are getting what they need most, soonest. 

Teacher training is also among our key activities. Multi-day trainings are offered according to subjects taught (science, English, math...). ECD teachers also benefit from special training and networking opportunities throughout the year, and teachers at all levels can participate in our popular music therapy training, which encourages incorporation of movement and singing into the curriculum. Music therapy training was launched in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes, when we noticed that many students were affected by post-traumatic stress and anxiety and needed a healthy way to blow off steam. But really, all students can benefit from a break from desk work, and the teachers love these techniques too! 

Another of our educational programs, perhaps less well-known than those described above, is the establishment of child clubs. While we help establish these, they are then run by the students with support from their teachers. These clubs are a way for students to participate in a variety of enriching and fun extracurricular activities such as sports and cultural events, the creation of a school bulletin and other publications (with original poems, stories, and drawings by the students), and even a school vegetable garden where space permits. Extracurricular activities are very commonly available in the US and other countries, but have not typically been available in Nepal, so this is a great way for the students to have fun while gaining leadership and teamwork experience.

We all know that there are important social and academic benefits to kids when they have consistent access to education. Thanks to all of you, our friends and supporters, these benefits can accrue to the 2,500+ children and adolescents enrolled in our supported schools!

An ECD (early childhood development) classroom
An ECD (early childhood development) classroom
Child clubs offer extracurricular activities!
Child clubs offer extracurricular activities!

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Classroom at Shivnagar Secondary School
Classroom at Shivnagar Secondary School

The name "Educate the Children" clearly indicates our roots as an organization that strives to improve both access to and quality of educational opportunities for kids. Although we quite early on expanded our work to support the children's mothers and families through our women's empowerment and sustainable agricultural development programming, our children's education work is still of critical importance to our mission and to the well-being of families in rural Nepal.

All three of our program areas are integrated and mutually supportive. For example, helping mothers gain the skills to earn more money ensures that children won't have to be taken out of school because they need to work or because their families cannot pay for the necessary supplies and fees.

In March, before the New Year break*, I visited nine of the schools with which ETC and local partner organization Save the Earth are currently working. The children and teachers alike seemed very glad to be steadily back to school after having been in and out more than once during course of the pandemic. The headmasters also expressed sincere gratitude for ETC's very practical and useful support in the relatively short time we've been working with these particular schools. As you can see from the photos, the buildings themselves appear to be for the most part in fairly good structural condition - meaning for example that the walls are solid - but there is still plenty of work to be done. Headmasters/teachers and ETC staff work together to establish the top priorities for each school, including such things construction of toilet facilities, provision of furniture, and provision of educational supplies/materials.

As for non-tangibles, the most important thing ETC does is to provide training for the teachers, who will otherwise have no opportunities for continuing professional development. The overarching goal is to help them move away from traditional rote-based instructional practices to more interactive techniques that encourage critical thinking and problem-solving among the students.

We are honored to have earned the trust and respect of so many educational professionals, parents, and students over the course of more than three decades of work in Nepal's schools. And, as always, we are grateful to friends and supporters like you who make it all possible. Thank you!

* Spring is transition time for Nepal's school year, which typically ends in early March and starts anew after the Nepali New Year in mid-April. In 2022, because of pandemic-related delays, the previous school year ended a bit later and the new school year will start a bit later.

Classroom at Shankar Basic School
Classroom at Shankar Basic School
Providing school supplies at Sanischare Sec School
Providing school supplies at Sanischare Sec School
English practice, Chandra Kamal Higher Sec School
English practice, Chandra Kamal Higher Sec School
Classroom at Ram Janaki Basic School
Classroom at Ram Janaki Basic School
New toilet at Ram Janaki Basic School
New toilet at Ram Janaki Basic School

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Selling excess kitchen garden produce
Selling excess kitchen garden produce

Many of us don't tend to think of the winter months as a time for growing and harvesting crops, but in the villages where ETC works, agriculture is an important year-round activity!

According to the International Labour Organisation, agricultural work provides livelihoods for 66% of Nepal's population and accounts for more than one-third of the nation's GDP. The 66% figure is considerably higher if we consider rural areas only: Almost every family depends on agriculture to some extent as a source of both income and food.

So it's clear that agriculture is of vital importance to virtually every family in the villages where ETC works, and to the region's economy more broadly speaking. Yet there are significant challenges to ensuring that women and families can eat more nutritiously, enjoy a higher level of food security, and earn more money. The biggest challenges are lack of land - ANY amount of land - and lack of training and resources to get started in producing more food.

With all that in mind, we're proud to report that the agricultural activities we launched about a year ago are making a difference in the lives of thousands of people, directly and indirectly!

  • All of our 1,000+ women's group members cultivate kitchen gardens, using training and resources (seeds, tools) provided by ETC. Even the women whose families have no land to speak of can grow things like runner beans and other vertically-oriented vegetables - against walls, on roofs, or in containers - and/or can grow other crops on borrowed pieces of land.
  • More than four dozen women whose families have a little bit of land have been trained and have received resources for larger-scale market gardening. Crops grown and harvested during these cooler months include cauliflower (see photo), cucumbers, cabbage, garlic, onions, and chili peppers. More women will begin market gardening in the months and years to come!
  • Our three demonstration farms are all thriving beautifully. (See photo.) These venues allow us to provide useful hands-on training in a group setting. We're currently working on setting up compost pits at the farms.
  • Some women have already begun to sell produce at area markets! (See photo.) This includes our market gardening participants as well as women who are able to grow more in their kitchen gardens than their families eat, and thus they have something left over to sell. The latter can provide a few extra dollars of income here and there throughout the year, maybe $25 or so, which is a very meaningful amount of money in rural Nepal.

In non-agricultural news, schools have recently reopened (again!) and we are eager to begin working there more intensively. It's been difficult to get properly started thus far during the pandemic, due to the irregular openings and closures. But you can see from the photo that there is certainly a need for classroom furniture and supplies. What's invisible but equally important is the need to provide professional development and networking opportunities for the teachers and school principals. Education professionals in rural Nepal do not typically have opportunities for important training and development, yet the need for such support is now all the greater since the pandemic has forced intermittent school closures and delayed the progress of formal education for so many children. Our education staff is looking very much forward to getting up and running with this important work, which as always will be based on a foundation of regular and mutually respectful communication with school personnel, parents, and students so that we can be sure to address the real and most pressing needs.

As always, we thank you for your interest in and support of our work. None of this would be possible without you! 

Harvesting cauliflower to sell at market
Harvesting cauliflower to sell at market
ETC's demonstration farms allow hands-on training
ETC's demonstration farms allow hands-on training
Schools have reopened - we have some work to do!
Schools have reopened - we have some work to do!
Women's group secretary taking meeting notes
Women's group secretary taking meeting notes

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Flood-damaged rice must be washed and dried
Flood-damaged rice must be washed and dried

We are all well, WELL aware of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nonprofit activities worldwide. ETC is no exception: We had to start our new program cycle later than, and at a scale smaller than, originally planned and then ramp up from there - always with public health and safety squarely at the forefront of our minds. We're very proud of the progress to date, which you can read about in the previous reports (below) if you haven't already done so.

A new challenge arose in mid-October. Although the monsoon season is normally over by then, Nepal was battered by several consecutive days of rain. The river near some of our villages rose 20+ feet (6 or more meters). Some homes and schools ended up with several inches - or in some cases, more than two feet - of water inside, although the river is well below street level. Some crops were also damaged or destroyed, including much of what was expected to be a bumper crop of rice. Many local residents told our staff that they'd never seen flooding like that in their lives.

Some of our women's group members kitchen gardens were damaged, but fortunately it's not too late for them to grow a late fall/early winter crop, so we have recently redistributed seeds to members of the six affected women's groups. We'll also do what we can to support flood-damaged classrooms and schools with replacement supplies.  

In non-flood-related news, we've also started a pregnancy support program that currently serves sixteen women. They'll receive pre- and post-natal support for themselves and their infants, including information about best practices in well baby care, encouragement to make good use of their local health post, and some nutrtious meals.

Our women's groups remain both active and enthusiastic. One group, Radha Krishna, has already proactively taken on a community improvement/clean-up project. This is something we certainly encourage over time, but we normally don't see it happening quite this soon during a program cycle. They are providing an immediately useful service as well as setting a great example for other women's groups and for their neighbors and other community members alike!

Finally, we're delighted to say that ETC will be participating again this year in GlobalGiving's Giving Tuesday campaign. There will be $1 million - yes, you read that right - in incentive/matching funds. All day long on November 30th, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. Eastern (US) Standard Time, your online gift of any amount up to US$2,500 will help ETC gain a share of that $1 million. 

As always, we thank you very much for your continued interest and support. We hope that you enjoy these quarterly reports. If there is a particular topic that you'd like to see addressed in a future report, please do let us know! 

Working together to plant a vegetable garden
Working together to plant a vegetable garden
A flooded classroom at Ram Janaki School
A flooded classroom at Ram Janaki School
Cushions & papers drying outside Ram Janaki School
Cushions & papers drying outside Ram Janaki School
Pre-/post-partum women enjoying a nutritious meal
Pre-/post-partum women enjoying a nutritious meal
Radha Krishna women's group community clean-up
Radha Krishna women's group community clean-up
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Organization Information

Educate the Children

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ETC_Nepal
Project Leader:
Lisa A. Lyons
Executive Director
Ithaca, NY United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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