EDUCATION IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE.
And yet, 61 million children are not in school, most of them girls.
Educating children no matter where they are is one of the biggest steps we can take toward ending extreme poverty.
The Story of Devi Prasad
Some years ago, a 12 year old Nepali boy, Devi Prasad Neupane, was playing with friends. However, the fun turned to disaster when he suffered a terrible accident and lost both legs and an arm, which resulted in him spending the next year of his life recovering and recuperating in hospital.
Such an accident would have felt like the “end of the world” for many children especially in a culture where such loss of limbs could have rendered him both useless and worthless. In fact, Devi Prasad recalls overhearing a conversation between his father and the doctor during which his father told the doctor that he didn’t want to take Devi Prasad home, the hospital could take care of him and do what they wanted. It was a tremendous relief for him when he heard his mother say that she would take him home whatever. His father refused to pay the fees for his education but fortunately for Devi Prasad, the doctors involved in treating him recognised his potential and helped him to gain a good education.
Devi Prasad completed his education and became a teacher. However, his story didn’t end there. He had a vision and his vision was this . . .
. . . he wanted to build a school in his village that would deliver a high level of education and that could be accessed by all children without prejudice. Their background, religion, gender, ability, financial status, caste, etc. would be irrelevant – if they wanted to go to the school, they could go. He wanted the lessons to be taught in English, believing that this would enable the students to communicate better in the wider world, thus preparing them for life beyond education.
In a country where education is not compulsory and traditionally, not considered necessary for girls, Devi Prasad’s vision was radical, challenging, powerful and transforming. However, to have any impact at all, his vision needed to become a reality.
When Devi Prasad Met Michael
In 2002, Michael and Maureen Hawksworth offered as mission partners to work for United Mission to Nepal (UMN) in Kathmandu, Nepal. It was whilst working as Finance Team Leader for the Mission that Michael was approached by Devi Prasad and learnt of his vision. Devi Prasad had already accessed the money to buy the land on which to build the school. Now he needed the money to build the school on the land. However, this project was not within the UMN remit and Michael was unable to sanction release of money for this purpose.
Nevertheless, Michael and Maureen were so inspired by Devi Prasad, his story and his vision, that they decided to commit personally to raising the money for his school and so the work of this charity began.
From Then Until 2018
Building work began in March 2007 and the official opening ceremony took place on 6th June 2008. Ten years on, the school has 197 students and an excellent reputation in the district. The school has a library which is virtually unheard of in Nepali village schools. Building work and developments continue, with a dedicated science room currently under construction, funded by Bamford Chapel, Rochdale.
Fees are low but the village is poor. Approximately half of the students are from lower caste families and are on scholarships. Textbooks are supplied free, along with exercise books, pencils, rucksacks, ties and belts.
The Story Continues
On Saturday 2ndMarch 2019, Michael, Maureen and two others – Rosemary and Cath, flew out to Nepal to visit the school. Michael officially opened the new science room – a fantastic resource, staffed by an incredibly enthusiastic science teacher. Our visitors were given a tour of the school during which they were taken round the classrooms, giving them the opportunity to see the children and the teachers at work. They were really impressed by the quality of the education that the children were receiving and also by the atmosphere of learning, support and love that was clearly evident to all. Visiting the school, meeting with the staff, students, families and school committee reinforced all that we, as trustees believed and hoped for – the school is providing a top quality education, in a fantastic environment (physical and mental) with incredibly committed staff and a superb vision for the future. We’ll keep you posted!
The school continues to go from strength to strength but can only do so because of LEARN and its supporters – THANK YOU!