In 2017 FONAI partnered with Child Development Society (CDS) to manage funding for it’s Self Employment Education program. (SEEP) This partnership formalised the relationships we have with this hardworking and highly respected NGO since 2014. FONAI has worked informally, primarily through the Rotary movement, to support CDS programs in the past. These have included health camps and day care programs.
CDS shares similar values to FONAI and we were impressed with their strong commitment to the rights of the child and programs to end child labour. Another strength which attracted FONAI to this NGO and it’s programs is CDS’s core value of respecting and promoting local knowledge in the implementation of all it’s programs in the communities where they work.
In 2017 FONAI’s management team developed a strategic plan to make educating women a high priority. Inspired by our visits to local villages with CDS team where we saw the SEEP program, we decided to partner with them to assist in funding of 3 new groups in Kavre region of Nepal. Kavre is one of the most underdeveloped districts of Nepal about 45 km from Kathmandu. Traditionally families from Kavre district migrate to Kathmandu in November to work in brick kilns. The brick kilns operate from November to May. Brick kilns have a high incidence of employing child labour and children from the Kavre region can find themselves working here from as young as the age of 5. CDS envisages a Nepalese society where children can realise their overall rights. The SEEP program attempts to address this goal by helping vulnerable, poor and illiterate women become literate and numerate, The SEEP program empowers them to start micro-businesses and support their families with investment of their saved and CDS seed money. CDS works closely with local government to select participants, implement, manage and monitor this program. The program results are impressive as we met many women’s groups who still meet regularly after 10 years and are managing successful businesses. Some spoke of how their children were now at college!
In July 2018, one year after the FONAI/CDS 3 – year partnership for the establishment of the 3 groups in Kavre district, we were fortunate to visit the day the seed money and new school bags were distributed. We witnessed first hand the joy and pride in these beautiful women, who not only had attended their daily literacy and numeracy classes for 2 hours before they began their field work, but had already begun several small businesses – selling buffalo meat, sewing etc. Not one woman had missed a class in the preceding year. They spoke honestly about their lack of education opportunities as children, as being girls their responsibilities were helping the family. All promised to send their children to school as they could now see the importance education. CDS will continue to monitor and advise this group formally for another year and informally for more many years after.
FONAI is currently pursuing funding opportunities to expand its work with CDS to enable the establishment of more groups like this.