For the last seven years, Himalayan Children’s Charities has been supporting students and families in rural Nepal. What began as educational support for children orphaned by the 2015 earthquakes, has evolved into dynamic outreach programs that include wifi towers, computer labs, anti-human trafficking awareness, menstrual hygiene classes and food support for a neglected and marginalized segment of the Nepali population. We have cultivated a network of humanitarians, local government and school officials who alert us to dire need in these areas and communities. It was through this network that we learned of the critical need for food in Benighat, Dhading at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This community, which is composed of mostly Chepang and Magar families, suffers from widespread poverty, food insecurity, lack of running water and sanitation. The five schools we are supporting to improve opportunities need everything from books to toilets; and even then, they are limited to grade 5 by geography. The nearest upper level school is two hours away.
In January 2021, after this introduction to the Benighat community, HCC graduate and HCC-Nepal executive director, Mun Maya Rawal read an article in a local paper about mounting suicide rates in rural areas of Nepal. The article sighted a family from the Magar community in Benighat who had lost their mother to suicide and their father was suffering from a debilitating alcohol addiction. The children were fending for themselves, and the eldest daughter, only 12, has been caring for her younger siblings, ages 10, 8, and 3 year old twins for the last year. These 5 children were living in squalor, surviving on the one meal a day provided by the school.
Right away, HCC was able to provide warm clothing, school supplies and much needed food support for the children. And in May of 2022 we received permission from the father to move the children. To ensure their safety and care, we enrolled them in an English-Medium boarding school in Dhading Besi, that we have been working with since 2016. In this new environment, we are already seeing the children prosper. Not having adult care for over a year left the children malnourished; they had head lice and their basic hygiene had suffered.
As residents of the hostel school, they have their own beds, 3 meals a day and the personal care all children deserve. This is a wonderful change of circumstance for these 5 children that have been through so much and lived in such dire conditions. There are 295 more children in Benighat that are also in need of help. Poverty and circumstance makes them vulnerable to early drop out, child labor, child marriage, and human trafficking. They need clean water, basic hygiene and food support. By investing in their education and well-being, we are investing in the next generation of Nepal.