There are 450 to 500 families living in Thehe Village. Each family has multiple children and several generations living within each household. There are no roads and very limited services. Thehe became the focus of NCF work in Nepal due to our personal connection with Gyeni Bohara (the Namaste Story), but this connection has blossomed since 2007 to a real relationship with the citizens of the village. A great achievement was meeting Suresh Bohara, the first Thehe citizen to get his Master’s degree in Kathmandu. Suresh has moved back to Thehe so he can dedicate himself to improving his hometown and has proved to be a valuable link between NCF and the community.
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Meeting with the Development Committee
Last year, NCF asked Suresh and the villagers to form a management committee to plan and prioritize their development projects. Over the winter, they have already coordinated the collection of rocks for a village sanitation project and the village carpenters have made 86 benches, chairs and tables for the small government-run village school near Thehe. NCF provided funds for the wood and some wages to those doing the work. We have come to understand that it is not possible for the villagers to provide their labor for free. They live in extreme poverty and don’t have spare time to contribute to the village projects without some monetary compensation. During our April visit, it was a great pleasure to deliver the furniture to the school and to meet with the village management committee. The committee had developed the following list of their concerns and projects:
1) Build an English-curriculum private school 2) Develop drinking water, bathing, laundry and toilet facilities (there are currently no bathrooms in the village and only 2 water taps) 3) Health services, priority on family planning and basic health needs 4) Income generation, training and skills development 5) English teacher for the government-run school
NCF is going to focus on the first two items. There is an Ireland-based non-profit group that is also working in the Humla region (Nepalese Children’s Foundation) and they have been focusing on the third and fourth items. We are in discussions with them about ways to coordinate our efforts.
Interviewing Women in Thehe
While the village development committee was meeting with NCF, Nima Lhamu and Lauren Davis, NCF volunteers, interviewed a random selection of Thehe women to learn more about the home and family life of Thehe. The Thehe women were very eager to discuss the ways they wish to see Thehe improve and insightful with their concerns about the process. The number one concern voiced by the women of Thehe was their desire to improve the education of their children. Nutrition, family planning, laborious farming techniques, and sanitation were also among the issues discussed. Family planning, a visible need in Thehe, was supported by the women interviewed and is among the projects being supported by the Irish organization. (Read interviews on our blog here)
Both the village committee and the interviewed women pointed out that although sending two children (Gyeni and Amrita) out of the area for school was a tremendous opportunity for them, it didn’t help the majority of village families. Support is needed for the existing Thehe school, which NCF has been providing, but it is easily apparent that the Thehe school is not large enough to accommodate the number of children who would like to attend.
Setting up the Simikot Hostel
After much discussion in Thehe and several visits to private schools in Simikot (the largest village in Humla, five hours walk from Thehe), NCF developed a step-by-step plan. We have set up a hostel in Simikot (rented house, with staff from Thehe) and the village committee chose 25 girls from Thehe to live in the hostel and attend the Himalimodel private school in Simikot. By working with a school in the region, we estimate that we can educate each child for $350/year compared to the $1000/year we are spending on sending boarding students to Dang. Additionally, these children are closer to their families and their home culture, while still being able to attend a higher quality school than is available to them in Thehe. Our first focus is on young girls, as it has been proved time and again that educating young women plays an integral part in reducing birth-rates and improving quality of life in extremely impoverished areas. If this project goes well we will expand the hostel size and investigate the development of our own school in Simikot.
SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY ***Sponser a Thehe girl’s education! $350 per year pays for one girl to live and go to school in Simikot. Your support would be greatly appreciated!***
During the entire visit, the Thehe citizens were gracious and appreciative of the help NCF is offering their village. NCF was very impressed by the plans and initiative being taken by the village development committee. Suresh and Chimey, NCF’s employees in Nepal, are steadily building relationships in Thehe and Simikot, providing the leadership we need in this region.
This article was first published in the Summer 2009 issue of the NCF Newsletter. To receive our newsletter, join our mailing list!
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