Hearty congratulations to all of our Secondary Education Exam (SEE) graduates for their remarkable success! After graduating from 10th grade and passing the SEE exam, a child enters a specialized program that focuses on a desired area of study (i.e., business, science, agriculture, tourism, etc.). known as "college" in 11th and 12th grade. These children live in a boarding school or with a parent or guardian depending on their individual housing needs. We also provide healthcare and support services such as career counseling, tutoring, and internships.
adhu’s brother Milan has been in our program since 2014. Whenever we are able to welcome a new child, we look to our current families first and talk with parents and guardians about their other children and whether they need support for education, healthcare, and other services. Madhu joined us in 2017. She is currently in 10th grade studying at Shree Yoba Sahavagita Secondary School. She lives with her mother, father and two siblings in a temporary home in Dhungedhara. Her father is a driver and her mother a street vendor. Her father reached grade 3 in school and her mother never attended school.
Taylor and I are finishing up our final nine weeks of volunteering at BSF and have completed our project! As a quick summary, for the past two months I (Lauren) have looked through almost 30 textbooks for the six different class levels at the BSF Contact Center. For each level I created a year-long syllabus that is based on the books that the students use in class. These subjects cover math, science, English, social studies, drawing, general knowledge, and Nepali. And no, I did not write the Nepali exams and am leaving that up to the teachers. 😊
Following the Nepali education system, the Contact Center gives out four exams per year to check on the student progress. One of our project goals was to create more comprehensive exams. We found out that it had been a challenge to create the content in the past on top of all of the other responsibilities that the Content Center has. After writing up each of the six grade level syllabi, I then created four exams and four answer sheets for each subject and grade level. Additionally, I made notes for the teachers so that they can have references for why I chose specific questions and where the information on the exams can be found in the books.
An update on the after-school program started this spring; it’s running smoothly and making life easier for the parents of Mitrata kids working hard into the evenings to provide for their families. As an organization always looking for ways to better serve our families, what more could we ask for?
Each morning, I (Taylor) volunteer as an English teacher at the Vibhuti Secondary School, which is down the street from the contact center. Volunteering at the school is affording me a firsthand look at the education system in Nepal. Most importantly, the experience is helping me better understand how we can customize the contact center’s student evaluation system to appropriately fit into the Nepali education system. Creating the elaborate spreadsheet required for this student evaluation system is how I spend my afternoons once I finish teaching. Lauren, in contrast, is spending her entire day combing through textbooks and creating dozens of exams for the system. Her attitude and work ethic never cease to amaze me. Because of this, day by day we are making significant progress on the ambitious project for the contact center.
Friends there in US, have you ever thanked yourself for being a changemaker for underprivileged kids here in Nepal?Do you remember your initial days sponsoring children and do you relatively compare the change you have made yet? Here in Nepal, we Mitrata kids do realize!
In 2016, my boyfriend, Taylor, got to know Ambrose, Leena, Yogesh, and Christine through the Climb for Himalaya Children at Mt. Rainier just outside of Seattle, WA. In the spring of 2017, Taylor visited Nepal and was able to spend a day at BSF’s Contact Center. There, he got a taste of what Mitrata and BSF did for local children in need of education in Nepal. He sent me a few photos of the kids and, of course, I replied, “So cute!” Little did I realize that I’d soon be sitting on the same floor sipping tea while watching little kids perform dances and shout out, “Hello sir! Hello ma’am!”
Long story short: Taylor and I quit our jobs in Seattle in early 2018 to move to Thailand to teach English, travel, and learn about a different part of the world. In the back–very back–of our minds we knew that Nepal was a quick flight away, but we didn’t really have any grand plan to visit immediately. After a year in Thailand, we both began teaching online remotely. This provided an opportune time to head to Nepal, trek in the mountains, and see if we could make use of our time volunteering at BSF’s Contact Center.
Namaste! As we head home from Kathmandu after two very full weeks, we are filled with an abundance of lasting memories, heart-warming stories, and beautiful pictures. We met with almost all of our Mitrata-sponsored students and received updates on their health, family situations, educational progress, and for our older students, employment plans after completion of their studies.
At the Contact Center, Rachana (Program Coordinator) and staff welcomed 15 new children into the youngest class for the new school year, and two or three additional children may be added in the next few weeks. Children from all of the classes performed traditional Nepali songs and dances for us, and per their custom, invited us to join them. The children are now getting protein-rich breakfast and lunch every day, something sorely lacking thus far in their young lives. We met Lauren Kubik and Taylor Massey who are volunteering their time to establish educational performance metrics which will satisfy Social Welfare Council (SWC) criteria, and standards for future expansion.
A relaxed day taking in the city of Bhaktapur. Aleesh Baniya, a six-year staff member for BSF, takes me out on his scootie for an admirable exploration inside the eldest city of Kathmandu. We take an extra few minutes to jut around Bhaktapur’s made up borders, taking streets even taxis can’t fit through, to end up in the in the city, without having to pay the 1500 rupees it costs an outsider to get it, a perk of experiencing the city with locals. Not to worry, I quickly pay my dues and give back to the Nepali economy as I stop in many local shops and buy a few things. We leisurely stroll around the ancient city walls made from clay, keeping us cool from what should be a hot day. After a while we start to run low on energy and make our way to Aleesh’s brother’s restaurant, a gorgeous five story building in the center of the city. We sit and take in the view, talking about American culture and the vast differences in our lives, and the uncanny similarities that seem fabricated. How our connections to art and thoughts on society have slim to no differences, yet we grew up on polar opposites of the world, raised by completely different people.
Isaac and Biraj explore the city on a moped: they visit Bodhnath and a beautiful Stupa, witness a sacred ritual in the Pashupatinath, and travel to the Swyambhunath Temple or “monkey temple,” as locals call it. Along the way, they see incredible city views.
On Tuesday, 16 April, Christine, Isaac and I traveled two hours east from Kathmandu to Nagarkot, nestled in the Central Hills. This area was heavily damaged in the 2015 earthquake and the main road from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot still reflects heavy damage from washouts and hill slides. Some new building construction is visible and many of the retaining walls have been rebuilt, but the roads have not been repaired yet, so travel from Kathmandu takes longer than usual.
Our sincere thanks to all those who attended our April 6 Trivia Night. With a critical goal of $28,000, we raised more than $30,000 to support our underfunded children, necessary clean water for our Contact Center, catering and party supplies for a graduation ceremony, and alumni program snacks and supplies! We also welcomed new child sponsors who will be supporting five of our Contact Center graduates as they begin elementary school. It was an incredible evening for our children.
Very special thank you to Loryn Feliciano-Nalic and her husband, Edo Nalic, owners of Balkan Treat Box for providing yummy spreads and the Alderie family, owners of Cham Bakery for all the pita we could ever want.