NCP support for the Chepang girls of Nepal
Chepang girls: beyond 5th grade
For Chepang girls from the southern hill areas of Nepal, school
is over after fifth grade. Yes, it's a 3 hour walk down the
mountain to secondary school – and four hours coming back
up – but they could handle that. The real issue was the money.
After elementary school in Nepal, an education comes at a cost
that is beyond the reach of their farming families: $200 per girl
per year. The consequences for these girls can be early
marriage (sometimes as young as 12), a destiny of field work
or day labor, or even being trafficked to nearby India. Along
with their poverty, the Chepang are the lowest members of
one of Nepal's lowest castes, the Janjati.
NCP met these girls for the first time in the spring of 2022, and
felt a need to help. Through special fundraising, we were able
to send the five graduating girls from that year's 5th grade
class on to secondary school. Eleven more graduated the next
year, which we have managed to keep in school as well. Fifteen
more graduate this year. And of course this is not a one-year
commitment for each girl, but a promise to keep them in
school through 10th grade, which is far as secondary school
goes in Nepal. We also want to offer six months of vocational
training beyond this.
NCP is working to support these girls and others who will be
completing fifth grade in coming years in getting the education
they need and deserve. As of this year, there will be 31 girls
Supporting these girls is over and above the on-going
commitments of our Give a Girl a Chance program in Nepal and
elsewhere, so we are inviting people or groups to lend a
hand - anything from one-time gifts in any amount to pledges
to support a girl for all five and a half years. (There is a monthly
contribution option on the donation page linked above. One girl's
expenses would come to $17 per month.) Checks can also be
sent to NCP at 117 Nature Road, Blue Ridge, VA 24064.
As always, 100 percent of donations to our Special Projects go
to the programs themselves - really.
We raised the $30,700 needed to keep 'em safe!!
In 2022 NCP's Nepali partner Shakti Samuha urgently requested
funds to build a protective wall around a shelter for girls
who survived sex trafficking and domestic abuse, as they
are at risk from the same ones who used to abuse them.
(NCP had raised funds to purchase the land for this shelter
following the 2015 earthquake that destroyed the
previous one.) The cost? $30,700 - and our network came
through! Thanks to all the individuals, congregations and
other groups who supported this campaign!
As always, 100 percent of donations to our Special Projects go to the programs themselves.
Here's a photo of the shelter with the protective wall from our 2024 visit. The girls are now safe and sound!
The long walk to school in the valley below. The girls face cold weather in winter and monsoon rains in summer, and also have to deal with monkeys along the way who might attack them to try to steal any food they may be carrying.
The first 16 girls to be sent on beyond 5th grade (our 2024 Learning Tour group met with them in nearby Chitwan)
Key people in this effort: teacher Rukmani and students like Anisa. Rukmani has offered invaluable counsel to NCP and support to the girls - and proposed setting up bank accounts for each of the girls. NCP partner Shakti Samuha receives funds from NCP, then forwards these to the girls monthly, which they then use to cover their school fees.
Talking with the girls during and after lunch at the lodge where they visited with our group, we learned:
- they typically have only 2 sets of clothing other than their school uniforms, and often only slippers as shoes
- they had never before had such high quality rice or variety of vegetables as they had at lunch with us, and had never tasted momo, Nepal's most famous dish
- when we asked "what they wanted to do as a career" during our sharing session with them, they had no response; later they told one of our guides "no one in our village has ever done anything other than get married and work in the fields, so we don't have any idea that we can do more than this."