Story Behind NaraTika Community Learning Center
Namaste and welcome to the NaraTika CLC!
I’m very proud to share the story of how the NaraTika CLC came into existence and what, we at VIN, would like to achieve with it.
Identifying the Need:
In 2012 we conducted a detailed community baseline survey and found that there are some 1750 families living in Taluwa, Thulachhap and Bhadaure. The families are mixed ethnicities, Magar, Rai, Taming, Brahmin, Chettri, Dalit, Newar.
The villages are scattered and most of them did not have access to learning resources for the children aged 3 to 5. After the democracy they have established many schools in the area but Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centers; no proper classrooms and no access to good learning resources. Teachers did not have access to continuous learning or personal development opportunities.
There were three public health centers but none of them had birthing centers and only access to basic medical resources. The paramedics can prescribe antibiotics. The villages did not have electricity and good roads. Over 90% of the families did not have access basic sanitation facilities like toilets or clean drinking water.
The only way to earn a living is traditional farming. The harvest however was never enough to live on, consequently life was very hard. This lack of opportunity meant that the young people when they reached 18 left the village either to work in the Gulf countries or the city for the better employment opportunities.
When the young people earned some money they then migrated from their villages to the south and the cities where they could have better opportunities, especially for their children’s education. They never go back to serve or live in their village.
It is for these reasons that I decided to go back, implement a holistic approach of community empowerment to change these statistics and make a difference.
While implementing the projects, we changed some figures already but still no availability of any meeting, training and development space where learning resources for all ages available. So this led me to a vision of having a proper community learning center where all learning resources for all age groups are available. From years of experiences and struggles, we have been able to establish this center with the investment of over $500,000.
The source of my inspiration explained bellow.
The story traces back with my parents, Nara Kumari Basnet and Tika Bahadur Ghimire, who got married when they were 15 years old. My mother told me she wanted to go to school but she didn’t attend school because she’s a women and men had priority at the time and as a daughter-in-law in a typical traditional society, she had to work hard in spite of her young age. She had to fetch water which was an hour walk away. She collected firewood and fodder for cattle from the nearest forest (which was 2 hours away) and took her cattle for grazing- this was again over two hours on foot.
Village life was difficult then (and it hasn’t improved much in the intervening years). Nara gave birth to seven children (5 sons and 2 daughters – a boy passed away when he was 6 months from diarrhea). We lived in extreme poverty but she still fed them and educated them in the best way she could. For he,r education was a way to find a better, less harsh life. She has proved herself as an honest, humble, hardworking, creative and leading woman with social work at her heart.
Tika was one of six children and after getting married to Nara he carried on his studies and completed primary education (Grade 5 completion) from Bhorle School. He was a highly intelligent and talented student and so jumped some classes and completed his School Leaving Certificate (SLC) Early. He was appointed as a primary school teacher right after his SLC and only a few years later became the principle of different schools. He retired after 40 years as a Government First Class Primary Teacher. Not only was he a teacher, but also a pioneer, activist and social worker.
Both my parents worked tirelessly to improve the local community- socially and agriculturally as well as dedicating time to their children. They have improved the soil to be able to grow crops such as potatoes, onions and garlic, ginger, cauliflower.
When me and my siblings moved to Kathmandu for college and then University studies, we realised just how much my parents sacrificed their life for us. And this in return inspired me to set up VIN (Volunteers Initiative Nepal) and to focus on empowerment of the marginalized communities. The courage I got from my mother was, if an illiterate woman can do so much why not me who has a university degree?
At home we had many livestock (buffaloes, cows, oxen, goats) that my mother looked after, get us ready for school, do the farming. Of course we supported her but my mum sacrificed everything for our education and this included her not eating so we could eat, not having time to brush her hair so that she can make sure we finish our homework. And she would always encourage us to walk nearly 1km of altitude to get to our school every day. Walking 1 km vertical was really tough one. It would take 2 hour running that uphill.
Dad was also the first person to finish a high school education in this area and mum always encouraged him to study and share his education with others. That is why he became the first teacher from my whole village.
Mum and dad’s passion for knowledge and agriculture also meant that they wanted to contribute to this local community. Dad built the first water reservoir so that new crops could grow here. The village where they hardly harvested two cycles of crops started 3 cycle including wheat, potato, spinach, onion etc. Mum was trained as a midwife so that she could help women deliver their babies safely. And even though I live in Kathmandu, I have still have strong ties to Okhaldhunga which I always call my home.
The link between my parents’ commitment to the local community and sharing of their passion has really been shown when dad together with other social activities establish Dudhkoshi Primary School at Barchande and he became a Headmaster and teacher there since the start. He has also become member of other professional organizations and active politically to fight for democracy and people’s right.
Six years back, just before his retirement, my dad fell off a tree while collecting the fodder for the livestock. He had fractures all his body and had injury on his head. Me and my siblings rescued him by a helicopter. He got his consciousness back after 3 weeks of hospitalization. His life was saved but he lost his short term memory and his physical and mental health is frail. I therefore want to make sure that their passion for education lives on and we acknowledge their contribution to society.
They are role models for the local society so we decided to dedicate this Community Learning Center to this amazing couple, and all the parents here who have sacrificed their lives to their children’s education.
Their names combined mean Human Blessing- and we at VIN want to encourage children, youth and all community members to learn and feel blessed and inspired. With this NaraTika Community Learning Center, my parents’ inspiration and legacy lives on through the children and other community members who benefit from the projects and this building.
May the world be showed with their blessings! May their contribution be remembered as an always motivating real life example to all.
Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN)