ChoraChori’s schools’ projects for 2018

Support to schools is a key element of ChoraChori’s work in Nepal. This will continue to be the case this year as we reach out to new schools in Kathmandu valley and beyond!

Historically we have rebuilt primary schools that were destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes and supported Kitini College, one of the best state secondary schools in Nepal. This year we plan capital projects at Shree Buddha and Shree Ganesh Secondary Schools in Kathmandu valley and at Indreni Secondary School which lies in Panchthar District, east Nepal.

Shree Buddha Secondary School has an attendance of 350 pupils and lies in a rural village in Lele, Lalitpur District, close to Kathmandu. The village has no piped water supply and the villagers and students rely on river water. Recently this water has turned muddy because of contamination from nearby brick kiln factories. To make matters worse there are no toilets in the school and children use the bank of the river for open defecation. Bodies are even cremated on the opposite river bank. With Kathmandu valley already prone to cholera outbreaks (as a result of faecal contamination of water supplies) this is a disaster waiting to happen. Also, the lack of toilets is given as a major reason for girls dropping out of school after they reach puberty or for non-attendance during menstruation. Accordingly, the Principal of the school has asked if we can help with the construction of boys’ and girls’ toilets, the installation of water tanks and a water purifier. See the film above to find out more.

Shree Ganesh secondary school is attended by 147 pupils and also lies in an outlying village in Kathmandu valley. Most of the students come from the highly marginalised Danuwar community. The majority of the students are girls (85 girls vs 62 boys). This is a reflection of parental discrimination in that they choose to invest what money they have in their sons by sending them to better resourced private schools. So, their daughters have to attend Shree Ganesh school which, for example, teaches computing even though it has only two functioning antiquated computers. This kind of under-resourcing is scandalous, but by no means unusual in Nepal government schools. We would like to redress the educational imbalance by providing the school with 10 new computers that will allow the set up of a computer laboratory and the transformation of the students’ options.

The third school is Indreni Secondary School which lies in Panchthar District, in east Nepal (pictured above). It has 478 students in Grades 1-12 and, once again, the vast majority of pupils are girls (298 girls vs 180 boys). Seventy percent of students are from the scheduled “janajati” castes, including a large proportion of Dalit children (“untouchables”). As per Shree Ganesh School, there are no computer facilities and we would like to set up a computer laboratory with 10 new computers.

These developments will cost us £12,546 and we already have £2,500 in place thanks to our friends at Hatemalo. If you’d like to help us level the educational playing field for boys and girls in Nepal then please support us through the button below.donate to ChoraChori

A fairy tale ending for Bikram?

Displaced Nepali boy Bikram overjoyed to find his family roots.

When ChoraChori field staff took Bikram to Lamjung District this week to trace his family he was in for some surprises.

In December 2015 twelve year old Bikram Dulal wasn’t at all convinced that he wanted to return to Nepal. He was one of 29 children that ChoraChori was repatriating after rescuing them from hideous “children’s shelters” in Delhi. But Bikram had very little to return to. Or so he thought.

He came originally from a village in hilly Lamjung District, several hours’ drive to the west of Kathmandu. When he was four years old his father had gone off in search of work and just disappeared. His mother then left Bikram and his sister with her father and went her own way. Unfortunately his grandfather was an alcoholic and, neglected, Bikram drifted into a life on the streets. He roamed around the District town of Besisahar for several years, stealing when necessary, before he and some other boys decided they would try their luck in India. That journey ended with imprisonment in the children’s shelter in Delhi.

ChoraChori always tries to reunite children with their families and Bikram’s case proved to be one of the more difficult ones. This explains why he has been with us for just over two years. He maintained that he knew nothing about his father’s side of the family and that he had nothing to return to in Lamjung. It took a lot of convincing for him to set off on Wednesday this week with ChoraChori staff Shailaja and Anila to try and trace his family.

The trip involved a lot of detective work and some good fortune. First they found his mother’s sister who was working in a café in Besisahar. She directed them to the mother’s family home but en route they met Bikram’s maternal grandfather. It was 1 p.m. and he was already drunk. However he was able to tell the team where Bikram’s father’s family lived, a village called Kunchha. There they found the family home where Bikram met his grandmother (pictured above) and discovered that his real surname was Ghaire, not Dulal. He also met his aunt who was able to tell him that his sister was staying with another aunt in a different town. Bikram’s father had been the only son so Bikram was now the owner of a small plot of land (pictured left)! Everyone was overjoyed at seeing him again as indeed was Bikram at the interactions.

We have agreed that Bikram should return to our refuge to allow him to complete his Grade 6 at the local school. After that he can return to his family where his late father’s cousin will look after him with a little support from us to cover educational expenses. His family will also follow up obtaining his citizenship papers and inheritance rights.

What a result!

Vocational training success!

Uday completes his vocational training and starts a first job.

When ChoraChori rescued runaway Uday from India at the start of 2017 he had nothing, least of all a family, to return to. Now he has a vocational training certificate and a job to show for his diligence and our support.

Uday was one of 33 children whom ChoraChori rescued from India in March 2017. We have successfully reunited most with their families but were left with a residual challenge; what to do with those whose families couldn’t be found or where there was no functional family unit to return to? We always prioritise academic education but some returnees lack the ability to succeed in school or have been out of the system for just too long to have any prospect of catch up. For such children we consider vocational training options, both in-house and contracted out.

Last August we placed two lads at the highly regarded Sano Thimi vocational training college in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Unfortunately one of them packed his bags a few weeks later and left in the night for reasons unknown. The other, Uday, stuck with the course and has now passed the college exams, securing a first division pass at 77.8%. He has moved seamlessly into his first job as a light vehicle service mechanic at a workshop where he is excited to be earning a salary. Two more refuge boys, Raja and Prakash, are following in his wake as they embark on a six month residential course, also to become light service vehicle mechanics (pictured left). Like Uday, they know nothing of their families’ whereabouts and now is their chance to make good too.

In three days’ time a third refuge boy, Youshan, will be joining a six month Culinary Arts course at the Global Academy of Tourism and Hospitality Education (GATE). Graduates from GATE are guaranteed jobs in top hotels in Nepal and abroad, so the world could soon by Youshan’s oyster.

Training and hostel fees for Raja and Prakash costs £500 each, while Youshan’s course and support costs will be £1,150. If you can help us by becoming a short term sponsor, a champion, for one of these boys then please contact Philip Holmes using the button below.

 

 

 

A key role for ChoraChori in fighting violence against girls in Nepal

Fighting violence against girls in Nepal

As concerns grow internationally about the unseen violence and abuse of girls and women, ChoraChori will play a key role in fighting such violence against girls in Nepal, bringing support to the victims and justice to the perpetrators.

The statistics on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nepal are truly shocking. The Nepal Demographic Health Survey 2016 found that 23% of women had been subject to physical, emotional or sexual violence with 7% having experienced sexual violence. So often this goes unreported for fear of stigma or through lack of support services. For those who do seek help the vast majority turn to family (65%) followed by neighbours (31%) and friends (22%). Only 8% ask help from the police and 2% from social welfare organisations. In areas such as Tipling, where we operate, violence and abduction against girls seems to be treated as a social norm.

The Government of Nepal has made some effort to address the problem of GBV. In 2010 the Ministry of Health and Population in coordination with the Ministry of Women set up hospital based “One-stop Crisis Management Centres” (OCMCs) which now exist in 21 Districts. Through trained staff these were designed to provide 24 hour support to victims of GBV, including psychosocial counselling, coordination with the police, legal services and support from community based organisations. The latter can include access to refuge facilities – at least in theory. But how successful is this in practice?

In an earlier post we told how ChoraChori had become involved in fighting a case of attempted rape on behalf of the victim. This case has now featured in a major report in this week’s Nepali Times. Excellent as that report has been it doesn’t tell the full story. For when the CEO of ChoraChori arrived at the scene he found the office of the OCMC in Dhading locked up. It was a public holiday so he took upon himself the task of finding a lawyer who could support the girl and ensure that the case was filed.

Most shocking of all was the conduct of the police themselves. The victim was seen by a female police officer but was then subject to repeated questioning from male officers. This was intimidating and demeaning for a 14 year old girl whose first language is Tamang rather than Nepali. She was asked questions that seemed to be more for the titillation of the police rather than anything else. Was the rape attempted on a bed or on the floor? Then she was examined by a male doctor who asked her questions in front of her alleged assailant. Small wonder that such a small percentage of female victims report incidents to the police or support services.

ChoraChori will continue to pursue this case. The victim will remain in our protection until the case comes to court and beyond. But, to our disgust, the alleged assailant has been released on bail which could allow him to attempt to influence the girl’s family towards dropping charges. We will be petitioning for him to be remanded in custody. And we have written to the international aid organisation of which his NGO was an implementing partner to let them know what has happened. They too need to be applying pressure to ensure that there is no attempt at cover-up and that the police are encouraged to be rigorous in their enquiries.

ChoraChori will also be appointing a new (female) Child Protection Officer who can be available at a moment’s notice for similar cases in the future. We will ask her to go to the scene of future assaults and liaise with the local authorities – including OCMCs, the police and District Child Welfare Committees – so that cases are filed. Moreover she will build links with government bodies and the police in Kathmandu to ensure that proper procedures are followed and that there is no impunity for perpetrators of GBV, including sexual assault.

Teaching crafts to girls from Tipling

Alongside supporting girls from Tipling, near the Tibet border (pictured left), ChoraChori has been teaching them crafts that lead to an income.

Our programme in support of the trafficking-prone girls from Tipling, Dhading District, began soon after the 2015 earthquakes. These destroyed just about all of the homes and schools in the area. Our short-term response was to bring a group of girls to Kathmandu where they could complete their higher secondary education at Kitini College while staying at our Kathmandu refuge. In parallel, last year we trained them in crafts, beginning with working in felt.

Then in October a Dutch business woman, Aagje Hoekstra, began a short voluntary consultancy with us, teaching the girls how to make eye-catching carrier bags out of old rice and lentil sacks. This has been a huge success with their products already finding a good market in Holland and Germany. See the film on the left.

As the first group of girls is due to complete their higher secondary education in May we are now thinking ahead to the next steps. Reena, who features in the film, and two other girls want to train to become community medical assistants so that they can return to Tipling and help the village and surrounding area. The training is expensive with the 18 month course costing £3,000 (including the girls’ keep). But that is the price of training leaders as well as CMAs. We are actively seeking sponsors who can help with defraying these costs.

Once again we are grateful to the Soroptimist International President’s Appeal 2015-17 for their funding thus far under their Educate to Lead programme. And of course to Aagje for her incredible personal contribution in time, skill and passion.

 

 

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