In a previous article, I described how MySmallHelp charity was founded and our mission to help the disadvantaged children of Nepal through a very successful sponsorship programme that guides them through the education system and supports them to achieve their full potential in life.
The charity has also been active in trying to improve infrastructure for education. In a developing country like Nepal, there is never enough funding for suitable accommodation for children in government and social enterprise schools. Over the last decade the charity has been trying to help, with six projects successfully completed to provide upgraded facilities for over 500 children.
Recently, the charity completed a follow up ‘audit’ of progress at these sites and we were delighted with the results. The investments made continue to deliver for the communities we tried to help. Deb Priestley, Lee Forsyth and I each visited different project locations over the last year or so. For this article, I’ve shared a short description of each project as well as some pictures showing memorable moments we’ve shared with our Nepali colleagues in the development of these schools.
We are grateful to all the supporters, donors and partner organisations that made these great projects possible and, of course, none of this would have happened without the determination and commitment of our Nepali team. Our thanks to Raju, Pramila and Binod for guiding these projects to success.
Binod has often played a starring role in these ventures with his unique ability to find solutions even in the most complicated situations. He is MySmallHelp’s construction expert, with a wonderful network of friends and business partners, who can be relied upon to make things happen.
Shree Mangaladevi School (Sindupalchowk) 2012
Our very first venture into supporting government schools came about in Sindhupalchowk in the high hills east of Kathmandu. Our Trustee Lee led fundraising for the project with a series of legendary golf days a major part of the programme. The gratitude the local community has for his work is clear from the number of garlands Lee and his daughter Charlotte received! This picture is taken in front of the school building on a recent visit. Initially, the school only had a single floor but, with a recent extension funded by a German charity, 86 kids are now able to study at this school.
Marybert School (Lalitpur) 2013 onwards
As explained in the previous article, Marybert has been at the centre of MySmallHelp’s activities from the start. The school has a social enterprise model and provides low cost but high quality education to families in the Lalitpur area as well as free places and hostel accommodation for ten girls from the Chepang tribe, one of the most disadvantaged groups in Nepal. 85 children study at the school.
MySmallHelp has helped to provide Marybert School with several upgrades from 2013 onwards, including refurbishing classrooms, bathrooms and bedrooms, hostel kitchen, providing teaching materials and securing a better water supply. Our plan is to make Marybert School the centre of the charity’s future activities since the school is based in the Kathmandu area, close to where our Nepali team lives.
Ladkeshwor School (Balthali) 2015-16
Balthali is Pramila’s home village several hours journey to the east of Kathmandu, so she was delighted when MySmallHelp partnered with Friends for Global Change, a charity based in the USA, to construct a four-room school block for students at Ladkeshwor School. The picture shows Pramila welcoming two new teachers at the school.
130 children study at the school, often hiking 1.5 miles across the hills to get to school each day.
Shree Ganesh School Hostel (Simpani) 2018
Simpani is in the Annapurna conservation area, a mountainous region to the northeast of Nepal’s second city, Pokhara. Exam time presents a big challenge to kids that simply don’t have time to walk to school each day and prepare for challenging exams that are the key to their future. The solution was the construction of a hostel at the school where 50 students can stay overnight and study.
The picture shows your author stopping by to visit the hostel while hiking in the foothills of the Annapurna range. We are grateful to Marle and Tjerk, volunteers from the Netherlands, for their leadership in fundraising and then for staying on site in Simpani to project manage the completion of this valuable facility.
Bijaya Basic School (Pokhara) 2019
The picture above shows the Stamp family celebrating the opening of the Bijaya Basic School in Pokhara in 2019 with Pramila and Raju. 53 children now benefit from these facilities, proof of how effective sponsored bike rides can be, not to mention an epic charity ball. We are grateful for the partnership with the Pahar Trust that enabled this project to be completed.
When Deb recently visited the school, her comment was as follows:
‘This appears to be a well-run school with a committed Head Teacher and team. They are careful to look after the buildings and resources they have and are keen the children in the community attend and fully participate to benefit from this. Like all government schools, they are extremely short of funds and are creative with what they have.’
Shree Jay Durge Dalit School (Birjung) 2022-23
Our most recent school building project was near Birjung in the Terai region along the plains that lead to the Indian border. This is a difficult region to work in as it is a seven-hour drive from Kathmandu and often suffers from flooding in the monsoon season. This explains the need to raise the floor of the building significantly above the surrounding land.
The picture shows one of the school buildings during construction on one of Binod’s many visits to site. 120 children regularly attend this school, and we hope that the provision of new facilities can, in time, help to raise standards and attainment in a remote and underprivileged region.
Much of the fundraising for this project was completed by Matt Rai, a long-term friend of MySmallHelp in Australia, who even ventured into the boxing ring to help raise money to complete the school. Well done, Champ!
If you are interested in following the work of the charity, there’s a wealth of information on-line: