Mountain Trust Nepal
For the last 5 years, Your Home On Crete has been supporting the Mountain Trust, an organization that began ten years ago by building schools, child care centres, orphanages and community centres in Nepal.
We began at first with friends and family but after a while people heard about our work, made contact and offered to help. It is like a stone in a pond - at first the ripple is very small but grows larger as the word spreads.
Nepal is an ancient society of mainly Hindu and Buddhist peoples. Despite being one of the gentlest and most hospitable peoples, Nepalis have deep-set problems.
The huge scale of inequality between castes, regions, ethnic groups, genders and other groups combined with the Nepali state being the 3rd most corrupt in the world had fuelled a civil war which claimed over 13,000 lives and countless injuries, abductions and murders between 1996 and 2006. Hundreds of thousands were obliged to flee their villages for refuge in the larger and more anonymous cities.
Of all 25.2 million Nepali, no less than 31% (that is 7.8 million individuals) have to survive on under 0.73 Euros a day. But not just for a day - every day, all year round and year on year. Imagine the impact of a birth, marriage or other medical events on your finances were you in their shoes. Over half must sell land or cattle to pay for childbirth. According to the World Bank, 80% of Nepali live on fewer than € 1.45 a day. Although there are massive chasms between the high caste, educated and wealthy rich and the majority low caste, poor agricultural workers, the average GDP per person is a mere 190 Euros a year. (That's about the cost of one hour's work by a computer programmer in the UK.) No wonder around 15% of the population has left the country to find decently paid work abroad and send funds back to keep their families fed.
Life for most is very harsh. Average life expectancy is a mere 60.2 years and the average rate of literacy in the population aged 15 yeas or older is only 56% (in the remote areas, literacy can be as low as 10%). On average if you are Nepali and below the age of five you have a 50% chance of being mal-nourished. If you are a Mum, best not choose to give birth in Nepal because it is one of the deadliest countries in which to have a child. Every 90 minutes, a mother dies in child birth in Nepal - which is between 5,000 and 6,000 a year. One in four of Nepal's newly borns are under weight (at less than 2.5 kg). According to the Red Cross, each year 30,000 babies die less than one month old and 50,000 are lost before reaching one year of age. That is one every 20 minutes.
And you think that's bad? Well, imagine some of the other pressures too - such as 5,000 a year succumbing to Tuberculosis, landslides in the rainy season or one of the unsafest road networks in the word. Around 30% of children spend their childhoods crushing stones on the riverbeds for a living, making and carrying sand for building construction. Their parents depend on the meagre income their children generate and cannot afford to send them to school. They begin learning how to crush stones at around two years old.
Your Home On Crete now sponsors around 90 Nepali Students who would otherwise be excluded from access to education. Our sponsors have literally changed lives. We enable sponsors to help the neediest Nepali children to attend school. These include orphans and children born into riverbed families (who without outside help are condemned to crushing stones for building sand and gravel instead of attending school - from the age of 18 months), as well as the poorest and most deprived families.
Our last trip to Nepal (March 2012) was very successful. We visited the Bal Mandir School in Pokhara twice and met ALL our students, many thanks to the teachers and headmaster as well as the staff of the Mountain Trust. We spoke to each child, we received drawings, letters, school reports, and we made photos and a small video interview from each child for his sponsor. We even took on 10 more children.
We visited the riverbed community and distributed 35 North Face jackets, we had 9 children's jackets and 26 adult, all sponsored by Karen T and her team - our gratitude for that. We also distributed bed sheets and handed over a cheque with sponsorship money for the children.
We had a separate meeting in a hotel with some families and children sponsored by us for the last 4 years. It was a pleasure to see how their situation improved since we first met them.
An example is Mrs, Mithu and her family. We sponsored training on tailoring skills for her and provided sewing machines, thus enabling her to become self-sufficient, to stand on her own two feet and to support her family. The 3 children are being sponsored and the daughter will now enter university.
We have raised funds so that we can buy cheap wind-up radios to distribute among the communities and villages difficult to reach. This would enable the children there to tune in and hear our educational broadcasts on FM each evening, recorded by the best teachers.
In Katmandu we visited an orphanage with a capacity for 20 children. It is sponsored by Nature Trail Travels and Expeditions, we were deeply impressed, and these children have a better life than the average Nepali child! They all have their own sad story, but they looked happy and well taken care of and they live in a very pleasant and clean environment. We distributed some pens and the hats and blanket that the Knitting Club kindly knitted for us - our gratitude to Karen T and her knitting revolution!!!
And we have done so much more.....
But there is still so much more to do in Nepal, I recognized that we cannot bring about changes quickly, but from what I was able to see during my visit, I am heartened by what we have all done so far. We have helped so many people, we have improved lives, but above all we have given hope to the most desperate of families.
My thanks go to all of you for your continued support of our work in Nepal. For me, my visit was such a humbling experience, but without the generosity and contribution of my sponsors this would not have been possible.
In love and friendship,