Nepal lies south of the Himalayas and is bordered to the north by China and west by India. It is a country rich in beauty and has a wealth of natural resources. A monarchy throughout its history, it was ruled by a king since 1768. However, a decade of civil disorder and political unrest lead to the abdication of the monarchy and created the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal as recent as 2008.A landlocked country with a population of 29 million, the male literacy rate is approximately 68% while the literacy rate for females is 44%.It has been estimated that 7 to 8 million people live below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day.
As a direct result of the social and economic conditions many towns and cities have seen an influx of children, either looking for work or escaping the harsh realities of poverty. These children can be seen wandering the streets near the temples and tourist attractions.
With these issues in mind, since 1993 Nicole Thakuri-Wick , through her organization NAG has provided free education to under privileged Nepali children in hopes that they may contribute to society and better their lives in the process. Today over 200 children are accommodated in NAG’s boarding facilities, another 150 children attend day school which is recognized and registered with the Nepali government. Furthermore, they support an additional 350 children in various local government schools.
All the children receive a daily, nourishing meal and an education for a brighter, indipendent future.
In the beginning
In 1992 Nicole Thakuri-Wick visited Nepal for the first time, she was 23 and wanted to help street children have a better quality of life. After working for a short time as a volunteer, she decided to start „Nawa Asha Griha“ (NAG). This was established in Sept.1993 with the help of Swiss donations and “Les enfants du Nepal” (France) who continue to support NAG to the present day. Nicole started with 6 children in a rented room, and this has now expanded to become the present day NAG.
They slept on the floor until beds could be built.
Now with 200 boys and girls aged 1 to 20 years the home has become a thriving community. Up to 150 children from the slums are transported by the NAG bus to attend school on a daily basis. Despite NAG’s growth over the years, the home still possesses a family atmosphere. The strong help the weak and the older children help look after the younger ones. A duty plan adds to the daily structures, e.g. washing dishes, sweeping the pathways, cleaning the grounds and common rooms.
In Nepal births are not registered and therefore, birth dates are often unknown.
The “Niten Memorial School” of NAG was officially registered in 1998. It now has 350 students from nursery level to class 10. When the students have completed class 10 they sit for the government SLC exam (school leaving exam). As of May 2012 the school is registered to teach humanities to classes 10-12. Students will be required to attend local external schools for science and commerce. The teachers follow the official Nepali curriculum set out by the Board of Education of Nepal. Special higher education studies are provided for NAG pupils who wish to study nursing, medicine, engineering, hotel management, fine arts, social studies, veterinary etc..
The costs for attending these private schools are sponsored by NAG.
The 200 children living in NAG are provided with 3 meals per day and at lunchtime an additional 150 day students have their only meal of the day! The meals have to be served in shifts since the dining room is too small to accommodate all children simultaneously. Despite the great demand for meals, the process is handled efficiently within a relatively short time with all students participating in cleaning up. NAG also runs a “Mobile Soup Kitchen” which was started by 4 children who grew up in NAG. They cook and bring warm meals to the street children in different areas of Kathmandu.
Certain disagreeable chores are given as punishment for disobeying NAG rules.
There are various possibilities available to teach children how to spend their free time. There are valuable workshops in a variety of subjects which help develop various talents and skills such as, carpentry, motorbike mechanics, music, drama, art and pottery, sewing, handwork and cookery courses. Sport and games are also part of the recreational program. NAG has a basketball court, a table tennis and badminton area on the school grounds. Students participate in many tournaments in Kathmandu and have won several medals especially in basketball, dance, music and football. The children love to play football on an improvised football field in the court yard or on a public field in the local village. Jet Kun Do (Martial arts) is also very popular. The smaller children have a playground with monkey bars, swings, a slide and a playhouse. For the bookworms, there is a library where they can enjoy reading in peace.
The playground for the small ones was built in our own carpentry workshop.