Our manifesto for 2020!

2019 has been a remarkable year so far for ChoraChori in Nepal; we’re aiming higher in 2020.

 Girls in the garden of ChoraChori’s Child Trauma Management Centre in Kathmandu

At a time when the UK is gripped with enthusiasm (not) at the prospect of a pre-Christmas general election, it is perhaps timely to illustrate what we have achieved in the real world in the past year and present our brief and achievable manifesto for 2020. Please take a few minutes to review this no-frills document that highlights ChoraChori achievements and objectives and think about how you might be able to help us.

Do remember that we do not receive any government funding and are entirely reliant on grants and donations, including through gifts in wills.

Any ideas, please do send them to ChoraChori’s Founder, Philip Holmes.

 

Follow up visit to Kitini College

ChoraChori Founder/CEO Philip Holmes today paid an evaluation and monitoring visit to Kitini College; he was greeted by a very happy Headteacher, staff and pupils.

Saroj KC, Headteacher of Kitini College, NepalIt is incumbent upon us to follow up the projects we fund; this is a task that includes through visits by the CEO and Trustees of the charity. The Treasurer makes an annual visit to review the local finances. Today Philip Holmes visited Kitini College which has received tens of thousands of pounds of funding from ChoraChori towards making this one of the top state schools in Nepal. Through grants secured from Foundations and some community fundraising, we have been able to pay for science laboratories and a computer lab that have allowed the school to extend its curriculum. Indeed it is currently making the transition from being a Nepali medium school to an English medium school. This represents a major step-up for Kitini.

The most recent project has been the retrofitting of the school to make it resistant to future earthquakes. Three-quarters of the £68k project has been funded through us by our UK partner Foundations while the remainder has been donated by a grant from the local municipality. The building works began in February and should be completed by the end of next month. There has been a slight delay due to the water supply drying up – a sign of the times, sadly, as in the recent past this part of the valley provided water to the rest of Kathmandu.

The Headteacher, Mr Saroj KC, pictured above with Bhaskar Karki and Shailaja CM of ChoraChori-Nepal, was beaming with delight. These works have meant so much to him not only for professional reasons but for very personal ones. For he told us today that he is a former pupil of the school and his father was once the Vice-Principal. This sense of ownership explains why he is so passionate about taking the school forward.

There was one other marker of success apart from the tangible ones that we saw today. Somewhat surprisingly, when we started working at the school we found that 70% of the pupils were girls. This is because parents were sending their sons to private schools so that they could have a better education. In the space of three years that percentage has dropped to 60% although the numbers of students at the school have increased substantially. Essentially, our enhancements are levelling the playing field and boys are now being transferred from nearby private schools to Kitini. Mr KC is confident that the proportion will be 50:50 very soon.

Our next major project at the school will be to establish a bursary scheme to begin at the start of the next academic year in April 2020. This will benefit children from the poorest families, irrespective of gender.

 

ChoraChori supports a new major capital project at Kitini College

ChoraChori and its partners have provided funds for a new major capital project at Kitini College.

In 2015 Kitini College suffered some structural damage when two earthquakes struck Nepal in April and May. It could have been much worse; a neighbouring private school collapsed causing fatalities.

This government school is important within Lalitpur District as it serves a huge catchment area that extends into the adjacent Kavre and Kathmandu Districts. Many of the students come from low caste families and include the children of the desperately poor peripatetic population that provides seasonal labour in nearby brick kilns. And the children at the ChoraChori Children’s Refuge and Rehabilitation Centre also attend the school, part of their return to normality after the trauma they have endured. Therefore it has been important for us to reinforce the school, literally, by a major project that will make it resistant to future earthquakes.

Working alongside our new project partner, Gandys Foundation, we have been successful in securing all the funds necessary from major donors and two other grant-making Trusts for this four month long project. The local municipality has also contributed 25% of the project costs, so it has been great to see this local commitment to a great school.

Computers for Shree Ganesh School!

This week ChoraChori-UK visitor to Nepal, Caroline Milne, saw for herself the impact of fundraising that she has supported when she accompanied a special delivery of computers to a terribly under-resourced government school in Kathmandu valley.

How can a school teach computer science when it doesn’t have any computers?

This is not an unusual challenge in under-resourced government schools in Nepal. And it’s often girls that ultimately lose out as parents frequently choose to send their sons to private schools while their daughters make-do at the local government school. This is gender discrimination within families.

One such school has been Shree Ganesh School which is in a village on the edge of Kathmandu valley. It is attended by 147 students, 85 of them girls and 62 boys. Most of the children are from the low caste “Danuwar” community. The Danuwars once earned their living through fishing but the local river became polluted and these days they undertake unskilled labour work. It gets worse. Danuwars are generally considered “matwalli” a derogatory term for the caste that abuse alcohol. The principal of the school tells us that the parents drink all day and often give it to their children too.

This week ChoraChori has done what it can to level the educational playing field for Danuwar children of both sexes by delivering ten computers to the school. These will benefit around 70 children in Grades 6-8. Inspired by the delivery, the school committee is now planning to extend the curriculum to include Grades 9 and 10. This is a great result and we’re most thankful to Nexus International School in Singapore and to a UK Trust that has provided the funding.

To find out more click on the image!

SEE (SLC) examination success

Alongside our child rescue and rehabilitation work in Nepal, ChoraChori also provides material and educational support to some very poor girls within the local community. One such girl, Rina, has responded by achieving a remarkable result in the latest Secondary Education Examination (SEE).

In late 2014 ChoraChori-Nepal’s Founder and Operational Director, Shailaja CM, found these two sisters wandering destitute in the Godawari hills to the southeast of Kathmandu valley. Their alcoholic father was living in a shack (see feature image) and their stepmother had thrown them out. At Shailaja’s request we took the two girls into our care and paid for their education at the nearby Kitini School, one of the best state schools in Nepal. The cost of this was subsequently picked up by our friends at The Soroptimist International on Devon – Taranaki Club in New Zealand.

The elder of the two sisters, Rina (name changed), has just achieved a remarkable success in the Secondary Education Examination (SEE), the Grade 10 examination that up until recently was known as the School Leaving Certificate (SLC). Her “A” grade means that she has scored between 80% and 90% – which is interpreted as “Excellent” – putting Rina within the top third of students who sat the examination. This should be interpreted against the sad backdrop of the number of children who drop out of school before Grade 10 due to extreme poverty or poor schooling opportunities while others are not permitted to write the examination if they are considered likely to fail.

Rina is now moving on to Grade 11 – “Plus Two” – at Kitini College where she has chosen management as her academic stream for the next two years. While staying at the ChoraChori refuge she will supplement her academic education with training in the arts and crafts.

 

 

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

In memory of Zoe Carss

ChoraChori helps ensure that Zoe Carss is remembered in Nepal

British woman Zoe Carss died in a tragic swimming accident in Thailand in 1996. Just beforehand she had spent part of her gap year teaching in a school at Godawari, on the southeast of Kathmandu valley. In response to her loss, Zoe’s parents Richard and Tessa set up an education charity in her memory. Ever since The Zoe Carss Education Trust has been making grants towards education projects in Nepal and South Africa.

ChoraChori values highly “in memoriam” projects. Earlier this year we were honoured to be able to set up Physics and Biology laboratories at Kitini Higher Secondary School in memory of Lucy Monro who died in a cycling accident in Dubai in 2015. And now Kitini School can teach all science subjects to the highest grades thanks to the Chemistry lab that we’ve founded in Zoe’s memory. This is especially appropriate as the school where Zoe taught was just along the way from Kitini and she would have known the area well. Now, just like Lucy’s picture is on the wall of the Biology lab so also will Zoe’s picture go on the wall of the new Chemistry classroom.

2017 has been a really successful year in our relationship with Kitini School and in our Nepal education projects. Not only have we established the science department but we have also set up a new computer suite, thanks to grant funding from Hatemalo in Germany. We have even rebuilt one of its associated primary schools in memory of Christian Kaesler. As we look ahead to plans for 2018 we will continue to support education in our local area and are very open to suggestions for doing so in memory of other special people who loved Nepal. Just drop us a line if you would like to explore commemoration possibilities with us.

Nepali girl abduction

Nepali girl abduction a common crime

Nepali girl abduction is commonplace – indeed socially accepted – in some rural communities in Nepal. The UK’s Daily Mail reported on this two years ago, describing how it impacted upon Dalit (“untouchable”) girls in remote northwest Nepal. Young men abducted these girls to force them into child marriage while girls’ families offered little resistance. See this article.  We’ve come across the same practice further to the east in Tipling, Dhading District, which lies in the mountains bordering Tibet. In the midst of stunning scenery (see picture above) young men commit crimes against girls, robbing them of their childhoods and futures.

Tipling – a tough place for girls

It takes two days’ travel from Kathmandu to reach Tipling, its remoteness contributing to endemic grinding poverty. This is home to the people from the marginalised and historically downtrodden Tamang community. Family incomes are derived from subsistence farming, manual labour and from acting as porters. Women’s lives are particularly difficult with a high incidence of child marriage and early pregnancy. These are major contributing factors towards infant and maternal mortality. Families often can’t afford to educate their children. If they can, they will prioritise their sons’ schooling and send them to private boarding schools in large towns. Girls can only expect to attend local government schools that are chronically under-resourced. Eventually poverty forces many girls to drop out of school early to begin work. Or they may be forced into child marriage even though this is illegal in Nepal.

The thing is that there’s little protection for girls. There is no police post in the area; the nearest one is a day’s walk away. And often parents can be away from home, tending cattle in lowland pastures. So it’s easy for a young man or young men to kidnap a girl and claim her as a wife.

Abduction of two sisters

A young man kidnapped 22 year old Mara when her father was away from home working as a herdsman. Mara ran away from her captor four times before he turned up at her parents’ home. He offered alcohol as a goodwill gesture to the family and to obtain her father’s blessing. The family agreed and Mara’s fate was sealed. Later, another lad and some friends snatched Mara’s younger sister, Nanimaya. She escaped five times but each time her abductor went to her home to retrieve her with the family’s consent. After the sixth escape the young man gave up. But, bizarrely, he claimed £4 equivalent from Nanimaya’s father as “compensation” for the “divorce”.

In our society we’d quite correctly view these practices as kidnap and rape. Not necessarily so in rural Nepal and even if there is a police presence, they turn a blind eye to these crimes for fear of upsetting complicit villagers.

The ChoraChori Tipling Girls Project

Girls from Tipling learning craft skillsMara and Nanimaya’s youngest sister is one of ten girls who came to Kathmandu last July. ChoraChori responded to a request from a Jesuit priest in Tipling, Fr Norbert, that we give these girls a chance to complete their education in Kathmandu. For they had successfully passed the coveted Grade 10 School Leaver’s Certificate (SLC) examination at their school in Tipling. This was a remarkable achievement in spite of the 2015 earthquakes that had destroyed their homes. There was no option to complete higher secondary education (Grades 11 and 12) in Tipling. Moreover, lawlessness had become much worse after the quakes and these girls were very susceptible to abduction, child marriage or even human trafficking. Tamang girls are physically attractive and therefore highly sought-after for the sex trade.

The Tipling girls are now staying at ChoraChori Operational Director Shailaja’s home. In the mornings they attend college while in the afternoons we have been teaching them handicrafts. Soon we plan to extend their extra-curricular activities to English lessons. These will increase their future employability. And in June we expect a further ten or so girls to join the two year programme. A programme that will give these young women a chance of making something of their lives while providing essential protection from kidnappers.

To support this project and help us fight Nepali girl abduction please donate using the button below:

donate to ChoraChori

 

Nepal International Marathon

Nepal International MarathonNepal International Marathon

ChoraChori is recruiting runners to take part in this year’s Nepal International Marathon. This challenging, scenic trail running event takes place each November and is held in the hills above Kathmandu.

Fancy taking on the run of a lifetime?

Applications are now open for this year’s Nepal International Marathon that the Impact Marathon Series will manage between 13th and 19th November 2017. The idea of the Nepal International Marathon is that you can run in support of a chosen Nepal charity project. During the course of the week you’ll get the opportunity to visit your project and get your hands dirty with a short local volunteering task. The magical part is that you and 120 fellow runners will stay in a pop up camp that the organisers set up in a stunning hill-top location.

Choose your camping style and running distance

There are three options – taking your own tent (£495), glamping (£645) or luxe glamping (£795). You can select a 10km, half marathon or full marathon route over trails that involve significant Nepalese undulations. Click the picture above left to get an idea of what it’s all about and to sense the amazing atmosphere. Not to mention the pain and the triumph of crossing the finish line!

Helping Nepali schools

Nepal International Marathon

Children enjoying a free lunch at a ChoraChori supported school

By choosing ChoraChori you will be raising sponsorship towards our education programme. Through this we have been reinstating education in the wake of the Nepal earthquakes of 2015. Those two massive earthquakes had a devastating impact on Nepali children. But we’ve risen to the challenge, rebuilding three schools. Additionally, we’ve provided vital short term revenue support to encourage attendances and reduce drop outs. That initiative makes children less vulnerable to trafficking.

Our preferred fundraising platform for UK participants is BT MyDonate. Although it has fewer bells and whistles than the other fundraising sites, it is undoubtedly the most cost-effective. You can find out more about the Nepal International Marathon and sign up through the button below. But please remember that November is a peak time to visit Nepal and flights become more expensive to book the longer you wait!

Find out more

Remembering Christian Kaesler in Nepal

imgonline-com-ua-piconpic-7QzpRNMCgXJ9Yesterday was one of those really heart-warming days that we are privileged to experience from time to time in Nepal. It was the occasion of the official opening of the new TulsaDevi school that ChoraChori rebuilt after the earthquake. But it was special also in that the inauguration was in memory of Christian Kaesler, whose parents were major donors towards the project. Click on the image on the left to watch the film and find out more.

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