Heaven Hill Academy is the first private school in Nepal to provide free education. Much of the community here in Gaunshahar is of the lowest and poorest caste. They are struggling to survive and thus have no money to devote to their childrens education. Shamser has come to these families with a solution. Not only is Heaven Hill free for those who can’t afford it, we provide any school supplies necessary to ensure the poorest children can grow up with a quality education. Pencils, books, bags, textbooks and uniforms are all given for free from the generosity of volunteers and donors.
Heaven Hill Academy is the first school in Nepal with a no-hitting policy. All across the country teachers beat the children for making mistakes, disturbing the class or showing up late. Corporal punishment is standard practice. Shamser still has pain in his hands from the beatings he received in school. Having felt this issue deeply, he knows it does nothing for the children. When making the school a hitting free zone, he had no idea where to start. Nobody did here, it is just the way teachers discipline. So he turned to the volunteers and learned the methods of positive reinforcement employed by schools in developed countries. Instead of beating children for showing up without a pencil, Heaven Hill provides a pencil and encourages children to learn without fear of making mistakes.
Heaven Hill provides a high quality education that promotes growth and creativity. The traditional way children learn here is to memorize answers to specific questions with little regard for understanding the underlying concepts. Rote memorization and fear of punishment creates a poor relationship with learning. The aim here at Heaven Hill is to encourage the children to be creative in solving problems. We want them to understand why something is the way that it is so that they can come up with their own solutions. This is how to foster a community of bright, fearless young minds ready to solve the problems they will face in life. With the help of the volunteers, there is a constant influx of new methods and techniques.
Other things that make this place awesome:
- There is horse therapy for the Down's Syndrome children every Friday. This is great for improving confidence and empowerment as well as giving the children the opportunity to connect in a way they understand, nonverbally.
- The school begins every day with 15 minutes of dancing, Zumba style. Moving creatively to start the day gets the children in a good mindset and shakes out some extra energy so they can focus.
- Shamser is humble and selfless. Everything raised goes directly to the school. Shamser and his wife Kalpana live very modest lives. They have given up their entire home to volunteers all year round and are devoted to the development of the community.
You can change this place forever.
We have identified the following needs. These are the most efficient improvements that can be made. Whether you have one dollar or one thousand, you can make a significant difference here.
$1 = 12 Pencils
$100 = 2 years supply of pencils!
Writing is a huge part of learning. Many families can’t afford school supplies as they are simply trying to survive. Despite the school’s efforts to provide them, kids still show up without pencils or do not have a pencil to do homework with. Lets make sure every kid always has a pencil.
$6 = Pair of shoes
$250 = Shoes for 2-3 years!
Having a good pair of shoes means the children can play safely and their feet are protected on the walk to school. Some of the children walk for over an hour to and from. The school does its best to provide shoes but it does not always have funds available to do so. Lets make sure that every child can have a good pair of shoes.
$6 = Schoolbag
$250 = Schoolbags for 2-3 years!
Most of the students have bags but some of them are broken or don’t fit. This can be unhealthy due to the distance that some students walk to school. Lets make sure everyone has a bag that fits them properly.
$12 = Uniform
$500 = Uniforms for 2 years!
Heaven Hill provides uniforms that are flexible. Shamser does not believe the children need a tie and a belt to learn. The uniforms are meant to allow the kids to dance and play and feel that they are part of something bigger. Since washing machines are non-existant around here, the children need a few uniforms each to make sure they are not always wearing dirty clothes. The kids are always growing and so is the school, so every year we need new uniforms. $500 will buy 42 uniforms, enough to outfit all the children who can not afford them for the next couple years.
$10-15 = New Textbook
$1200 = Textbooks for a year!
The textbooks Heaven Hill provides are high quality. They are full of colorful pictures and good questions. This is the foundation of the curriculum so it is important that they are well designed. The normal textbooks here are black and white and not conducive to creative learning. The textbooks need to be replaced by April next year and it will be extremely helpful if we can raise the funds now.
The Big Projects!
Grade 5 Classroom
$3000 = Materials, Labour, Furnishing
The children are getting older and larger every year, just like most of us! We have begun building grade 4 to accommodate the current grade 3s and will be finished by the start of school in April. Shortly after that we have to begin gathering the materials and moving the rocks to make the Grade 5 classroom. There are a few nice things about using rocks for the construction.
1. A community effort, from start to finish the project creates 130 jobs! This is great for the community as Nepal has a critically high unemployment rate.
2. The most environmentally friendly method, we don’t have to kill any trees or use a ton of chemicals and energy to create other building compounds.
3. Harvested locally, we do not spend much fuel and resources to transport them.
Teacher’s Salaries & Benefits
$80-100/m = Current teacher salary
$160-200/m = Future teacher salary
$6000 = Teacher salary and benefits for 1 year
Being able to pay the teachers more will be a huge boon to the quality of the education these children can receive. Right now the teachers must take care of their families right up until they leave for school and from the moment they get home. This leaves them exhausted and unable to plan ahead for the lessons. It is very difficult to provide a good lesson without preparation. This money would allow them to come in early and stay late every day.
1. They could provide for their families. There would not be so much work to do outside of school such as taking care of livestock and farming because they could purchase food. This is a great step towards empowering women to participate fully and equally in the local economy.
2. We will provide two meals every day. With the addition of the kitchen next year Shamser will hire a cook to come in and prepare a nutritious and energetic breakfast and lunch for the teachers.
3. Lectures and seminars to learn new teaching techniques. Education training is very poor in Nepal as it is all based on rote memorization and this is not the method Heaven Hill uses. The extra time the teachers can spend at school will allow Shamser and volunteer teachers to provide them with the better methods of teaching.
4. Lesson plans. The teachers can create plans for the next days lessons. This is a huge benefit and allows them to be creative in their teaching. In order to foster creative children we must have creative teachers.
$3000 = Classroom
$4000 = Laptops & Furnishing
$7000 = Computer Lab
Building a computer lab has so many benefits for the children and the community.
1. Computer skills in a modern world. Being able to use computers is a skill that will appreciate significantly over time. Educating the children on their use and connecting them to the internet opens up a world of opportunities, literally. Example? Shamser learned and used the reach of the web to connect to volunteers and start a free school from scratch.
2. Job opportunities. Nepal is entering its technological revolution. By the time these children are working age there will be jobs involving computers popping up every day. They will have the opportunity to move anywhere and work or start a business at home.
3. Teaching resources for any subject. The students will have access to all the learning material the internet offers (e.g. KhanAcademy). They can take interest and learn things that they would otherwise never be exposed to.
4. Incentive to learn english. The children can already speak and write in english by grade 2 and 3 but the internet will be another incentive to learn even more.
5. Community benefits. Shamser will open the computer lab to villagers who are interested in learning about computers. People can learn skills and techniques to improve their day to day life. They can learn new recipes to cook or how to build something. Some of them can communicate with their family who has moved to the city.
On behalf of Shamser, the teachers and children, volunteers, and the community of Gaunshahar, I would like to express our sincere gratitude. We are so grateful even if we raise $60 dollars - this would allow us to put shoes on 10 children. Your donation will go a long way here. Thankyou for taking the time to read. And thankyou for your generosity, in whatever way you choose to express it.
P.S. from Harrison
I want to be very clear that every dollar you donate here will go directly to the project and into the community. I am paying my own way here and would not feel right taking a cut of the money donated, no matter the amount.
If you can not contribute financially but you still want to support this place, please share it to your friends and family on facebook. A share brings in an average of $37, so even if you have no money to give you can still make a big difference.
I am so excited to see what we can achieve together. This place is truly exceptional and unique in the education system here. Let us come together and lift it higher for all to see so that it may inspire schools throughout the country to evolve their ways. The lives of these children will be changed forever.
Namaste And Much Love.
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