In Nepalese rural communities such as Batase, most families are engaged in subsistence farming. They rely on their children’s help with farming and household chores, which are often undertaken before and after school. Many families value education, particularly for boys as they see this as a pathway out of poverty. Consequently families will struggle to give their sons the opportunity to go to school.
Resistance to schooling can be stronger with girls, as the cultural norm in remote villages is for them to marry young and move to their husband’s home. Sometimes girls as young as 12 are married, even though early marriage is against Nepalese law. Hence many families don’t value education for girls, preferring them to stay at home to care for younger siblings and do farm chores.
FHC strives to give girls access to an education so they have choices beyond early marriage and labouring on the farm. An independent life. A life of choices.
There is another important reason to give girls, and boys, access to an education. Children from poor regional areas are particularly vulnerable to the human-trafficking trade that still thrives in Nepal. Batase children are not immune. Extreme poverty makes children vulnerable, especially girls. Traffickers can groom families for years, eventually offering them money and persuading them that a good job and bright future awaits their daughters in Dubai or India. Batase village has lost a number of its children to this evil trade. FHC is determined to change this reality, through education and awareness for girls – training for all.
This aim is paying dividends. “It’s been seven years since a girl has been taken from Batase village” says Som Tamang, FHCs founder. “And in the last five years it has been rare for girls to marry before 20 years of age.”
These advances are to be celebrated. Such privileges, taken for granted in the first world, are life-changing for the most vulnerable in these regional communities – girls. You, as supporters of FHC, have played a large part in this success.
© Friends of Himalayan Children 2023