I want to start out by saying that I am inspired. Watching Malala’s speech today not only gave me the chills but also encouraged me to come forth and take a step forward towards my dream. As many of you know, I have been involved with Ugratara Bidhyalaya, an isolated, under-funded and under-developed public school located in Kathmandu for the past two years now. We learned that the community in Ghumarchowk lacked a high school in 2011. I learned that, as a result, most students who attended this 70-year-old school dropped out after 8th grade and were involved in child labor. This was unacceptable. My family, with the help of many supporters, was able to gather the funds to construct a high school in Ghumarchowk. This year we have about 32 new students enrolled in 9th grade, 50% of whom had previously dropped out upon 8th grade completion. The rest were walking two hours daily to and back from the nearest high school. It has been exciting.
This summer, my best friend Antara, my sister Sony and I were there at the school- we taught English and public speaking to students who previously due to the lack of opportunity were working in teashops and selling goods in the street. We also conducted a dental camp (see link below for the a short video). From our interactions, I learned that most students in my class worked at least 3-4 hours outside of school to make ends meet. I learned that due to the lack of transportation, some of my students had never left Ghumarchowk to see the rest of Kathmandu. I learned that the school was able to provide biscuits to students twice a week, and the students remained hungry for the remaining days. Many students came to class bare foot and with torn uniforms. Some brought their younger sibling to class because there was no one at home to care for them (as you can see in the pic above). I learned about the various barriers that stemmed out of poverty because of which passing the SLC exam (so basic for many) might be a far fetched dream for many.. And today, I watched Malala speak and I could do nothing but think of my students. I thought about their futures.
I am inspired by Malala to take this step forward in launching Project Maya. Through this initiative, I will be raising the funds to support the teachers we hired last year at the school. We hired a total of 6 teachers who are each paid about $160/month (15,000 rupees). In addition, I want to hire a Social Worker who will focus on building a collaborative partnership with the teachers at Ugratara, volunteers, partners and the local community to provide the students with resources that will help them succeed both inside and outside the classrooms. I know personally from working at the school, that the students have basic needs that are unmet, need academic assistance and service learning opportunities, support on a daily basis and college preparation. Through a collaborative effort, Project Maya will be aimed at providing a supportive learning environment for students and to prevent drop out rates. My goal is to raise the funds to support the six teachers we hired, in addition to the Social Worker so my students will continue to have access to education. The amount collected will make a direct impact in all my student’s lives. The contribution will help a child pass his/her class. Most importantly, the contribution will help a child get an education, which can then help him/her break the cycle of poverty.
I am part of the movement, along with Malala, to break the poverty cycle by ensuring every child has access to his/her basic right to education. Please join me.
Dental camp video, you can also catch a glimpse of the new high school and the area around! It is beautiful.
"The road to equality is long, but we will succeed if we walk it together"- Malala Yousafzai
Dherai maya (lot's of love),
- Jyoti Shrestha
- Rakesh Karn
- Mylinh Vo
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