Nepali kids in Maya Sansar's after school program
03/16/16

Sunsar Maya

Your Generosity Changing Lives:
In Nepal With Sunsar Maya

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Many kids in Nepal struggle with poverty and health issues. Then last year, two major earthquakes made things even harder. Rex grantee Sunsar Maya, already on the scene with its after-school education program, was able to help get things back to normal and provide extra support.

We’re happy to share this report from Executive Director Jehán Seirafi:

We would like to first thank you for the $5,000 grant you provided Sunsar Maya on February 17th, 2015.

The funding greatly impacted our programs and made it possible for us to continue our work in Nepal. 2015 was also the first full year of operations for SuMa AfterSchool.

We are incredibly pleased with the progress of the program and the children. The program runs six days a week (the regular school week in Nepal) and the nearly 50 children attend for three hours each day. Our manager and four instructors implement a curriculum of literacy, numeracy, and science lessons. The curriculum is based on the Montessori and Waldorf methods, which offer a holistic approach to the world and its systems through experiential, hands-on learning. Our students also enjoy art projects, music classes, and an outdoor play area, activities that are not part of their regular, primary school curriculum, but are known to improve educational outcomes. Eighty-two percent of our students passed their final school exams this past year, many with distinction.

To provide the children with the physical support they need, they receive a daily, nutritious meal (14,715 meals were provided in 2015), which for many, is the healthiest meal of their day. We also give regular hygiene lessons and provide the children their own supplies, such as soap, shampoo, a toothbrush and toothpaste. The children go on regular field trips, such as outdoor picnics, to give them exposure to the natural environment. We also held two medical camps this past year, to continually monitor the physical development of our children and provide any followup treatments and medicine they may need. As part of our commitment to health and wellbeing, we facilitated and funded open heart surgery and all followup treatments for one of our students, 5-year-old Shekhar. Shekhar has been in need of the surgery since birth and it went as well as we could have hoped for. He is now as active and healthy as any of his peers.

In September, we brought on our new SuMa AfterSchool manager, Lily McGowan. Before arriving in Kathmandu, Lily trained extensively at the Golestan Center for Language Immersion and Cultural Education. With her background in education and psychology, Lily provides training for our teachers to continually improve on their teaching methods and increase their understanding of child development.

She also oversees all curriculum development and lesson planning to ensure the children are receiving a rich, well-rounded education.

In April and May of 2015, two devastating earthquakes struck Nepal. Following the first earthquake, while schools remained closed for over a month, we reopened the afterschool program quickly and began operating full-day sessions to provide the children a sense of normalcy, routine, and a safe place to process the disaster. Our team also provided emergency relief to our local community and the rural villages outside Kathmandu. We delivered food and supplies to close to 2,000 families, delivered soft flooring and tin roofs to protect against the monsoon season for those that have been left homeless, ran medical clinics that saw hundreds of people and provided free services and medicine, and rebuilt homes and schools in the villages. This work began in the days immediately following the earthquake, in remote areas that would take international aid days and weeks to reach and was funded entirely by our Emergency Relief Fund.

Despite the devastating effects of the earthquakes, we continue to see improvements in our kids and know that your investment in the afterschool program is having an impact. One of the students who we’ve seen benefit from SuMa AfterSchool is 7-year-old Dipesh.* Dipesh, is one of several students that lives in a nearby slum settlement that began attending the afterschool program last summer after we reached out to several parents there. Dipesh was struggling with emotional issues, possibly stemming from past experiences witnessing domestic abuse at home. He was continuously defiant, teased the youngerstudents, and occasionally refused to participate in activities with the class. His teacher told him that he needed to participate if he was choosing to come to the program (his parents weren’t making him come, it was his choice to attend). He still showed up daily.

We recognized it was important for Dipesh to feel a level of responsibility for his behavior within our community and especially with the younger kids. We began having him help out in the classroom as more of a mentor. He’s been given tasks such as preparing the water glasses for the younger kids and helping teachers set up materials for lessons. Dipesh has since become much more involved and shows more enthusiasm for the program (participating, modeling appropriate behavior) and decreased his negative behaviors (name calling, withdrawing from activities). He’s also passed his exams and we expect him to continue to improve in the new academic year.

It’s stories like Dipesh’s that make our program truly worth it. Thank you for your support, we look forward to working with you again.