WALLINGFORD, Connecticut — Nearly half of the population in Nepal has not completed their education. Nearly 770,000 Nepalese children between 5 and 12 remain out of school, according to studies conducted by UNICEF. Nearly 40 percent of Nepalese adults are illiterate, directly stemming from the large dropout rates of children from schools in Nepal. Despite that, Nepal has nonetheless massively improved its literacy rates within the past 10 years, especially due to efforts of nonprofit organizations supporting children’s education in Nepal.
Vision Education Foundation
Created by college students, Vision Education Foundation, is one upstart nonprofit that has, within just three years of its existence, already uplifted myriad children from poverty through education. Founder and chief strategist Sonam Sherpa decided not to wait until he graduated from college to create this nonprofit organization. Rather, he chose to start it during his junior year because of the stories he would hear back home about the lack of children’s education in Nepal.
“I’ve always wanted to give back because I’ve been so fortunate to escape poverty myself in Nepal,” Sherpa told The Borgen Project. “When I think about how I’ve been able to escape the pain and hardship, it truly amazes me. But this is all thanks to the opportunities that came to me from education. I knew I had to take action.”
His foundation provides funds for — and allocates the necessary resources toward — the vocational and educational needs of children in Nepal. The nonprofit worked in the schools of the Bigu community, attempting to positively influence children’s education there by eliminating barriers preventing children from enrolling or staying in school.
For example, the organization’s first project relating to COVID-19, Sherpa said, served 60 children and their families with 25 pounds of rice, five pounds of lentils, one liter of oil, one mask and two bars of soap. The food and hygiene products were also delivered in-person to children and their families during the onset of the pandemic, lasting for nearly a month.
The foundation’s Boston College chapter successfully raised $1,500 within three months, Sherpa added. “I knew that university students have a unique drive just from seeing and working with my own peers at Boston College.” he said. “This is why our team wanted to create an organization that raises funds through using universities and the students there to raise the funds with us. The chapters of VEF are unique in the sense that they are not merely ‘clubs,’ but rather are learning and leadership experiences for students at Boston College interested in advancing their advocacy, fundraising and overall cultural competency in Nepal as well.”
Child Nepal, founded in 2003 by a group of social activists, focuses on the rights, protection and development of Nepalese children. Child Nepal works at the grassroots level to ensure the development of children in specific Nepali communities is addressed, while also pushing for change in child rights at the national level.
This organization has worked in Nepal for 18 years guaranteeing the security and safety of children in schools, homes and in their greater communities. Within just a year, 17,297 children have been cared for in 19 different communities.
Protecting the rights of a child directly impacts accessibility to education for Nepalese children. The organization’s main objectives are to ensure the security of those children while increasing awareness and advocacy efforts of the Nepalese government. It also is meant to protect children’s rights, including education and creating opportunities for children through government protection and accountability projects — all in an effort to directly uplift children from poverty.
– Nora Zaim-Sassi