raised of a $3,500.00 goal
High up in the Himalayan mountains, several hours outside of Kathmandu, is a village full of capable and hard working people, eager to improve their lives. The village is entirely comprised of the Tibeto-Burman Chepang indigenous group. The Chepang are often characterized as one of Nepal’s most impoverished and marginalized groups. They’ve been sidelined by society as they remain one of the lowest castes, stuck in a viscous cycle of extreme poverty. They suffer from an extreme lack of social-upward mobility. Therefore, they remain in isolation–far away from public transportation, roads, electricity, quality education, and health services.
Despite being marginalized by what society dictates, these locals are not allowing anyone to define their fate. They formed a women’s group dedicated to the empowerment of their families and their people. Then they began defining their dreams and community development objectives. Because they are nearly all illiterate, they drew pictures of their dreams to describe one day not needing to walk over two hours one-way to get to a health clinic. Additional pictures depicted not having to see their own family members and friends needlessly die in their homes due to the inability to walk down the mountain to get treatment from something easily treatable. They got to work and found a way to build a modest health clinic out of locally-found materials. In order to make it complete, they need to furnish it, plaster the walls, install flooring, provide beds and shelving, and fill it with medicine and supplies so it becomes a dispensary. Right now it is being used as a community hall. However, in order to achieve their ultimate dream, we need to help with just a few simple things to allow it to be a fully-functioning health clinic serving over 2,000 villagers in the Dhading district. They have also agreed to go even farther by providing 10% of the total funds through local community contributions and their own efforts. The community will own the clinic, not any government or NGO. It’s their project–let’s join with them to make it happen!
We believe the focus of our programs should be non-paternalistic and should be owned by locals. In Nepal, for instance, we have established a local chapter of our organization ran by locals. This community-based organization works hard at coming up with local, homegrown solutions to poverty alleviation and empowerment, all while incorporating sustainable development solutions. We have found that working with locals to promote improved access to education is important for the long-term development of individuals and families in rural areas. To us, partnering with locals is a powerful model. We simply show up as cheerleaders invested in the success of their initiatives, and in this process, a true partnership is formed. We are largely against continued handouts–that is why we love the nature of this project–it truly is meeting locals in the middle. They do everything they can, we do everything we can, and a unified partnership is formed which is fixated on local objectives (the goal being a health clinic for locals). The objective of promoting health in an area where social-upward mobility is nonexistent and the average income is less than $1.50/day is largely in our interest as concerned global partners.