Street Child in Nepal
Scroll down for a Q&A on our presence in Nepal from our CEO Tom Dannatt.
STREET CHILD’S EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE
On the 25th April 2015 Nepal suffered from a catastrophic earthquake followed by several severe aftershocks. A large proportion of the country was left in ruins. It is estimated that more than 1 million children have been left out of school as a result of the earthquake with over 50,000 classrooms destroyed or damaged.
In May last year, in recognition of our effective and rapid response during the West African Ebola Crisis, Street Child was asked to work with local partners in Nepal to assist in re-establishing education in some of the country's worst-affected communities.
As we move into the recovery phase of the earthquake response, UNICEF has appointed Street Child as the lead education organisation in Okhaldhunga, one of the hardest to reach districts affected by the earthquake. Working with local partners, Street Child has responded by constructing 40 temporary schools and 24 WASH facilities for 3,200 children in Okhaldhunga.
In addition, we've helped to provide specialised training to teachers, enabling them to support students that have experienced trauma as a result of the earthquake and its aftermath.
Looking to the future
Street Child continues to work with our local partners to build a further 45 semi-permanent school buildings to benefit 7,200 children over the next five years. We're also delivering educational kits to 300 schools across all 57 villages in the region to ensure they can continue to achieve quality teaching and learning, despite learning environment constraints.
But there is much more to be done to help ensure long-term educational opportunities for children in both rural and urban areas across Nepal. And Street Child believes that our model of work will be incredibly effective at creating sustainable impact for those children.
Education is a critical priority for the Government of Nepal and our immediate aim is to continue that focus in rural areas. We are also exploring how we can help address the issue of out of school children throughout the country, including the opportunity of bringing our Street Children programmes that have already been so successful in West Africa to selected urban areas across Nepal.
A Q&A from Our CEO TOm Dannatt
How did Nepal even get on Street Child's radar? It is a long way from Makeni!
I visited Nepal in 2013 at the invitation of a major donor of Street Child's who has supported a grassroots education charity, JKP, working in remote villages in Nepal for many years. I was glad to - it was a great trip and I was very impressed by the work I saw. At the time there was no immediate prospect of Street Child starting outside of Africa but the idea was not excluded. Then Ebola happened and the idea was a million miles away.
Then the earthquake happened. One of the things Street Child learned in Ebola was the massive difference that strong, locally-rooted organisations (such as Street Child of Sierra Leone and Street Child of Liberia) could make in a disaster - with innumerable advantages over big international 'ex-pat and protocol heavy' organisations. JKP in Nepal was a perfect example of such a local organisation. We spoke. One thing lead to another and in May, Chloe was flying out to Nepal to meet with JKP and just 'see'. We began working with JKP soon after.
Where does UNICEF come in?
Street Child worked closely with UNICEF in Sierra Leone and Liberia during Ebola. One of the people running part of UNICEF's earthquake response in Nepal had worked with Chloe in Liberia during Ebola and was impressed. A question was asked, "would Street Child think about working in Okhaldhunga District?" It is a remote place hit hard by the second quake but where UNICEF had no key education charity it could rely on. A map was found. Okhuldunga was located. And Chloe and JKP set forth for a study. It wasn't easy but they came back and the answer was 3 yes's. 1. yes, Okhuldungha is remote; 2. yes it has big needs and 3. yes, Street Child will help!
UNICEF appointed Street Child as lead education partner for Okhaldhunga and made a substantial grant available.
How is Street Child doing the work?
With help! That is the skill. Beyond JKP we identified, through referrals, 2 excellent local organisations who were already on the ground in Okhaldhunga - ECCA and SAHAS. We also pulled in some technical expertise from another organisation, Hands International. Co-ordinated and managed by Street Child, it is this consortium of organisations: ECCA, SAHAS, JKP and Hands who are making it happen. It is the local staff of these organisations, plus the villagers, who are trekking, in some cases for up to a day up and down hillsides to transport materials from the nearest road points to the villages; and build the schools.
Why has Street Child not been talking about this work? Street Child is not normally shy!
On the one hand we have been very keen to, not least in the hope it might help raise awareness and further funds. But we absolutely did not want to distract anyone from our core mission, where there is still so much to do, in West Africa - especially in terms of caring for Ebola Orphans. We did not want to give any impression that we were abandoning or even distracted from this core mission (especially as one of our core public messages has been encouraging everyone to stay the course with Ebola hit countries - "don't move on because the Ebola disaster is done, because it isn't, only the medical part of it is; it will take a massive effort to help orphans, businesses, survivors and so many other groups recover".
We also wanted to be sure Street Child would and could deliver in Nepal before we looked to source more support. In fact Street Child started the same way in Sierra Leone in 2008 and 2009. Proper public fundraising only began after we had the first 33 children back in family and in school, and we had evidence our model could work. Only asking for funds when we are sure we can make the difference is important to us.
Finally, the move into Nepal is broadening our narrative from only being 'West Africa specialists' to that of an organisation that wants to help children into school wherever they are, especially if it is an emergency that has disrupted their education. That is what we are doing, where we are going. But we want to do it, and go there, carefully. So this is our start.
Is Street Child in Nepal for the long-term?
Somewhere between possibly and probably! We don't need to know yet. What matters now is that the work we are doing is important, excites us, is effective and is attracting fresh support (as opposed to drawing on our existing pool). For as long as that is the case, I expect Street Child will stay in Nepal. We are looking at various ways we could both deepen our work in Okhaldhunga and also help in other ways, in other parts of the country. It would be wonderful if we could achieve in Nepal anything like what we have done in Sierra Leone.
What else does this mean for, or tell us about, Street Child?
An equally big question is will Street Child now become a disasters charity as we've taken on two big ones in a year now. The answer is no, not a disasters charity per se. Our focus is 'out of school children'. But when you consider that a third of out of school children live in disaster and conflict affected countries, if you want to be a serious player in the issue of 'out of school' children, you need to think about whether you are going to act in these situations. It is an area we are looking at, seriously. As it happens, Nepal was probably the one country in the world, outside of West Africa where Street Child had a 'starter-network' in place through the JKP relationship, so could even think about acting. But we learn as we go and it is powerful to observe how effective the Street Child model of 'active partnership' with local charities has been in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nepal disaster-zones in 2015. We have secured significant results.
Street Child is about helping out of school children go to school (and stay there; and learn). Where there is an out of school child, who we can see a practical way of helping (without disadvantaging those we are already helping), it is unlikely we will be far away.