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Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families

by Educate the Children
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Finish Strong/Jump-Start! Support Nepal's Families
Family time in Sunsari
Family time in Sunsari

It is a massive understatement to say that nothing has been normal in recent months. That's been true worldwide, and Nepal is no exception.

The strict pandemic-related lockdown and mobility restrictions in Nepal were instituted in March and were eased up slightly beginning on June 14th, but are by no means fully lifted even now in mid-July. This has meant that none of ETC's usual springtime program activities, such as agricultural or teacher trainings, were able to be done on schedule. Nor were the schools with which we work able to re-open for their new school year in April.

Given that it is now summertime, the challenges of daily life in rural Nepal have become greater. Summer is monsoon season, and heavy rains mean washed-out roads and trails as well as mudslides. This can be especially problematic in a hilly area such as Dolakha.

You may also have read in the news about the swarms of locusts (some 8 million of them, by one estimate) that are destroying crops. These are concentrated in south-central Nepal and are not harming our Dolakha families' gardens at present, but of course they must know that this is happening elsewhere in the country, and they must be concerned.

Having said all that, there is still positive news to report. Because as they so often do, the Nepali people are demonstrating their remarkable resilience in the face of adversity!

In Dolakha, because ETC had almost completed our full program cycle of work, many of the skills and systems had had the chance to become deeply rooted. This groundwork has proved to be immensely important during the pandemic.

For example:

  • Women's kitchen gardens and other farming activities are well established and thriving, providing a much-needed source of food security for their families while it has been impossible to go buy food elsewhere. The goverrnment has provided some staples, such as rice and lentils, but the amounts provided have not been sufficient to meet most families' needs. The fact that women are able to grow more food since becoming involved with ETC has been absolutely crucial for their families' well-being.
  • The women's cooperatives' leaders are able to meet, which helps ensure that some of the good work being done by these cooperatives to support their nearly 1,000 members can go on. As you know, the cooperatives are the legally recognized, enduring structures formed from combining ETC's women's groups.
  • Teachers and school staff feel motivated and empowered to help the children continue to learn, despite the major obstacles - because obviously families in rural Nepal don't have high-speed internet to do online lessons via Google Classrooms! One of the 30 schools in our current project area has now re-opened, with three shifts to ensure that the class sizes are small. The others, however, have not been able to do that. Instead, schools are broadcasting lessons over FM radio - most families either have a radio or at least have a near neighbor whose radio they can hear - and some teachers are visiting students' homes to do small-group, in-person lessons where that can be done while respecting the need for distancing.

We have never had to furlough or let go any staff members throughout all of this, very thankfully. And now that things are starting to open up a bit, they will be able to do what needs to be done in order to finish up properly in Dolakha District and then begin phasing into Sunsari District, once it is safe to do so. Yes, we are still intending to go work in Sunsari - it's just going to have to wait a bit longer than had been hoped and planned! The attached photo is of a family in one of the villages we will be serving there. It was taken by a staff member of Save the Earth, which will be our local project partner in Sunsari.

As always, we have you to thank for having made all of this possible. Thank you very, very much. So many people's lives are sustainably better because of your support.


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Manita at her thriving poultry farm
Manita at her thriving poultry farm

We're very pleased and grateful to have a lot of new friends joining us recently, via the Girl Fund campaign. Thank you again, and welcome! We hope you'll take a moment to go back through some of the previous reports (with photos!) for this GlobalGiving project. If anyone is interested, I can also point you to our past/funded GlobalGiving projects. And of course we hope you'll visit our website and social media (links below) for lots more information and many more photos! Always, photos. We like photos.

This is going to be a longer report than usual, partly because we want to let you know how ETC is coping with the pandemic situation.

To date, there has been only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nepal, but of course people there are concerned about taking preventive measures and "flattening the curve" to the extent possible, as are we all. Schools have closed, travel is restricted, and public gatherings have been canceled or postponed. If you are interested, you can read more about this at the U.S. Embassy's website.

As for ETC specifically:

  • Our Kathmandu office staff is going to be working from home for the time being (and our Ithaca staff has worked from home since 2012!); the field staff, as residents of the villages we serve, will remain there.
  • We are postponing or, perhaps eventually, canceling group-based activities for the rest of March and into April. This includes such things as agricultural trainings as well as, unfortunately, our usual International Women's Day celebrations, which would have happened on March 8th.
  • There are program activities that can still be done safely, such as field staff providing guidance on gardening/farming issues on an individual basis (and from a safe distance!).


In these quarterly reports, we typically share with you some details about the specific activities we’ve been doing lately – number of agricultural trainings offered, number of teachers trained, etc. Today, we’d like to talk more generally about the issue of children’s education in Nepal.*

Improving access to and quality of children's education in Nepal was ETC's original purpose, and it remains one of our three mutually supportive program areas. ETC is therefore very pleased to be a member of the Global Campaign for Education-US Chapter. This coalition of program-oriented and advocacy-oriented organizations is committed to improving both access to and quality of education for children around the world. 

As a GCE member, ETC has often contributed blog posts about our work in the context of national and international conditions. They are all quick reads and include illustrative photos, and we hope you will enjoy them. (We all need lots of reading material while we are practicing social distancing!)

From September 2014: Early Childhood Education in Rural Nepal

From December 2014: Pre-Primary and Early Childhood Education in Nepal

From April 2015 (less than two weeks before the massive earthquake): Taking a Holistic Approach to Ensure MDG Success

From November 2015: Helping to Rebuild a Community Through Education

From May 2016: One Year Later: Why It's Especially Important to #FundEducation After a Disaster

From April 2017: Two Years Later: Model Classrooms in Rural Nepal

From October 2018: Beyond Rote Learning and Teaching in Rural Areas

From November 2019: Extracurriculars Aren't Just "Extra"


As always, we thank you very much for making all of our important work possible – we could not do it without you!

* For those of you who really like our activity-related stats, here are some from the past few months:

  • As of December 2019, 370 women had increased their household incomes significantly by raising and selling goats and poultry. On average, the women had earned $98 from selling goats and $206 from selling poultry. This was in addition to the nutritional benefits to their own families.
  • Hundreds of women have increased their household incomes by cultivating and selling produce, including specialty and high-value crops such as mushrooms (see photo) and cardamom (for an average of $66 per woman).
  • Twenty-three math teachers recently received refresher training in best practices, including how to use inexpensive or free resources to enhance their students' learning experiences.
Shanti and her goats
Shanti and her goats
Durga in her garden
Durga in her garden
ETC women's group member taking mushrooms to sell
ETC women's group member taking mushrooms to sell


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Celebrating International Literacy Day in Lapilang
Celebrating International Literacy Day in Lapilang

First things first: ETC wants to offer another huge THANK YOU to everyone who supported this Finish Strong/Jump-Start project back on Giving Tuesday. We raised more than $13,000 including incentive funds for this project alone, on that one day alone - representing a top 1% finish among all eligible projects!

There's still time to make a year-end gift! Your generosity makes such an important difference in the lives of rural Nepal's women and their families. Below are just a couple of examples:

1) Earlier in the program cycle, we offered literacy and numeracy training for more than 800 women. Since then, we've been offering many opportunities for them to keep up their newly gained skills - including the creation of several Community Learning Centers (combination libraries + meeting spaces) and numerous trainings/workshops on a variety of topics related to entrepreneurship and agriculture. One particularly fun way in which we celebrate the importance of literacy is through our annual International Literacy Day activities. International Literacy Day is also National Education Day in Nepal. ETC's women's group members come together to sing and dance, read poems and tell stories, and play games. They are justifiably proud of all they have accomplished, and pleased to have the opportunity to celebrate it with their family, friends, and neighbors!

2) Poultry farming is very popular among our women's group members. Chickens and ducks are relatively easy to care for and provide protein in the form of eggs and meat, and also enable the women to improve their families' financial situations significantly. Forty-five women who participated in one of ETC's poultry management training opportunities earlier in 2019 have been able to sell their poultry for an average of more than $150 each, which in many cases represents an increase of 25%, 30%, or more in annual household income. Earning more money means that they can get out of cyclical debt (or not get into it in the first place), can pay for their children's tuition and for family medical expenses, and can live better and healthier lives overall. 

All of this and much more is possible because of you, our friends and supporters. We thank you once again and wish you all the best for the new year.

Krishna Maya and her poultry
Krishna Maya and her poultry


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ETC ag specialist Kumar Pahari advising Rama Thami
ETC ag specialist Kumar Pahari advising Rama Thami

Thanks so much for supporting ETC's "Finish Strong/Jump-Start!" project via GlobalGiving.

As you know, we are in the final year of a six-year program cycle in Dolakha District. Our cycle-end goal as always is to have established a very strong foundation of skills, knowledge, and resources upon which residents can continue to build better lives for themselves indefinitely, after ETC has begun working in a new geographic area. 

Here's just one way in which we are working to achieve this goal: by teaching women to cultivate certain specialty, high-value, and high-nutrtition crops that were not previously typical of the region but can do very well there. In this case, it's mushrooms.

Mushrooms are a very low-fat, low-carb, high-nutrition food that is relatively easy to cultivate - once you know how! With training and starter resources such as bags, spores, etc., mushrooms can be harvested multiple times per year. Depending on the variety, they are rich in various B vitamins, Vitamin D, and antioxidants, and even have some protein. 

During the first half of 2019, ETC trained and provided starter resources for 31 women from five women's groups in Lamidanda. Participants worked cooperatively to build 25 cultivation tunnels. The 31 women had already earned an average of $50 each as of the end of June, and in rural Nepal, $50 is a very significant sum of money. Best of all, these new skills and knowledge don't expire or wear out - they can be used indefinitely.

For more information about ETC's activities and other Nepal-related issues, please follow us on social media! On Facebook, we are @EducateTheChildrenNepal (or click here); on Instagram and Twitter, we are @ETC_Nepal. We post every Tuesday and we promise not to clutter your feed!

Thank you again for your interest in and support of our work. We truly could not do it without you.

Starting kanye (oyster) mushroom cultivation
Starting kanye (oyster) mushroom cultivation
A mushroom cultivation tunnel
A mushroom cultivation tunnel
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Organization Information

Educate the Children

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ETC_Nepal
Project Leader:
Lisa A. Lyons
Executive Director
Ithaca, NY United States
$34,100 raised of $40,000 goal
338 donations
$5,900 to go
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