Life on our planet can be easy in some places, and more difficult in others. People living in the foothills of the Himalayas, (the highest mountains on our world), in a small kingdom called Nepal, face particular challenges. Although Nepal is known internationally as the Birthplace of the most famous of all Nepalese, Lord Buddha, and also as a popular tourist destination, it is also a land of hardships. For the population living there, a simple existence has to be fought for; young children die of things that many doctors in developed countries have forgotten how to treat. Mothers give birth in the morning, and are working in the fields in the afternoon - with the baby on their backs!
It was against this backdrop that Child Welfare Scheme (UK-registered charity No. 1061699) started it's Day-Care/Health Centre (DCHC) building programme in 1994 to reduce infant mortality and give people a second chance. Until now, the Child Welfare Scheme has constructed, trained and installed staff for, and set up sustainability funds for eleven such DCHCs with the support and help of local villagers.
As they learnt more about life in rural Himalayan communities, they discovered that many things affect health, such as smoke in the homes from open fires, unclean drinking water and lack of access to medical help. This has led to further work, such as a smokeless stove and pumped water projects for many of the villages. Child Welfare Scheme has also opened the ASHA Clinic to provide free health care for disadvantaged children and youths both from the mountain areas and streets and slums of Pokhara, Nepal's second largest city. All of these efforts have helped to dramatically reduce the horrific death rate of pre-school children in these areas, which could reach up to 35%!
In May 2002, Child Welfare Scheme opened the JYOTI vocational training centre built by the charity in Pokhara. This centre provides disadvantaged youths of both sexes with the necessary skills that will lead to secure employment, and at the same time reintegrate them back into society. The target groups for this centre are:
The aim of the JYOTI centre is to give youngsters of 14-16 a second chance. Many of the target youths find themselves in situations in which they are exploited or forced to resort to menial work and begging. By removing them from these situations and providing them with the means to become contributing members of their society, the JYOTI centre helps re-integrate them into their communities. To achieve this, the teenagers are offered places in a hostel and full-time education or taken on to complete shorter courses. Classes provided teach practical skills allowing the students to become financially independent, as well as general subjects such as maths, Nepali and accountancy. Support is also offered after they have completed their training so that they can find jobs and regain a sense of self-worth.
This year's Lamma Fun Day will be raising funds to sponsor a group of trainees through their time at JYOTI vocational training centre for the third successive year. This group will have been sponsored by fun day funds through their complete three-year training.
The Child Welfare Scheme is this month's charity. For more details about CWS, visit childwelfarescheme.org, or email them.
If you want to speak to someone in Hong Kong about the charity, contact Andrew Doig at 9497 4599.