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Voice of Volunteers
We are a group of 5 members from SETEM Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), a non-governmental organization which main objective is to raise awareness about the inequalities of the resource distribution among different countries. In order to achieve this goal, SETEM Catalunya conducts several campaigns in favour of Fair Trade, Ethical Banking and workers rights. Our organization also works with various NGOs in more than 10 countries around the world.
We have been travelling in Nepal visiting various local NGOs, one of them being Samudayik Sarathi. Upon our arrival, we were received by its chairman Mr. Tara Bahadur Bhandari who kindly welcomed us into their office and exposed us the current political, social and economical situation of Nepal. For the last five years, Nepal’s constitutional assembly has been discussing a new constitution for the country which is leading to a situation of severe political instability, including frequent strikes. This political instability is translated into a lack of investments in the country. For example, even that they are the second richest country in water resources, the power plants facilities are not built and so they suffer power cuts of more than 10 hours per day.Education is another area which has to be improved in Nepal. Despite government spends over 70% of the national budget in education, the success rate of public schools is around 10% whereas the success rate of private schools is approximately of 90%. Because of the two aspects previously mentioned, the youth population of Nepal is trying to find their job opportunities abroad, which is also a problem for the nation as they are losing human capital. Samuyadik Sarathi is working in three main areas in order to improve the situation of the youth in Nepal: participating in the legislative process, assisting schools in different Nepal districts and creating community centers at slums settlements. They offered us the opportunity to have a first-hand experience in the community center they had built in Manohara slum which can be the model to be followed in the future community centers in the other 55 slum settlements. This high number of slum settlements in the Kathmandu Valley is due to migration flow from people in rural areas, because of the lack of social services such as health care facilities and schools.The Manohara settlement, located close to Kathmandu airport, is home to over 800 families – hence being one of the largest in the area. Compared to other settlements that we have visited in the country, we were surprised not only by its size, but also by its closeness to a dumping site and the disturbing noise of the airplanes landing and taking off frequently. Once in the slum, we went to the community center and ECD (Early Childhood Development) school built by Samuyadik Sarathi where we met the staff members that take care of the facility. One of the objectives of this center and school is to cover the lack of public schools between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. This ECD education contributes not only to children education but also allows their mothers to have available time to look for a job, to go to work, to become self-employed or attend to various workshops which the same NGO organizes. We consider that the ECD slum project contributes to reduce the big illiteracy rate existing in the country which is around 30%. At the same time, Samuyadik Sarathi is building a new primary school in this settlement. This project is necessary for the slum settlement as public schools are located at a far distance which makes that most of the children drop out school. We consider that Samudayik Sarathi is doing a great job with their Community Center for Slums project. Slums are often a forgotten reality, and their dwellers face very hard living conditions, working on a daily basis to ensure their subsistence. Samydayik Sarathi initiative strongly contributes to break the poverty trap in which its inhabitants are immersed. We encourage Samuyadik Sarathi to continue developing this project and to extend it to other slum settlements in the Kathmandu Valley, as it is an example to follow.