Let us support locals dedicating their lives to help locals.
Past year's events of various shootings, bombings, Brexit and election frauds makes the world seem bleak. Yet there are still countless people in the world doing good, sharing their wealth and dedicating their lives in helping others. Our trip to the Modern Model Residential School (MMRS) in Lalu, Kalikot, Nepal showed us evidence of the good in the world.
The MMRS put together a program to say goodbye to the teachers for holiday and welcomed our arrival.
What is the Modern Model Residential School?
The Modern Model Residential School was co-founded in 2008 by a former classmate of mine, Prakash Bista and his brother-in-law. Bista was born in the village of Lalu and have witnessed the turmoil civil war has placed upon his village first hand. Many of his peers were forced into the rebel group while others fled to India. Schooling was a luxury and he was one of the few fortunate enough to obtain scholarships for an education in the district head-quarter, then in the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu, and later in the United States at Soka University of America. At the age of 18 Bista recognized his privileges and wanted to give back to his community by building a school on the site of his abandoned old home that was once taken as a headquarter by rebel forces and was later bombed. The mission of the school is "to empower mainly poor and disadvantaged students in extreme remote villages in Nepal through free and affordable quality education"
students prepared choreographed Nepali dances for the program
Where is the Modern Model Residential School?
The village is located in the north-west region of Nepal. Due to its extreme remoteness (lack of roads in mountainous regions) it became war ridden as it was easier for rebel groups to gather. According to UN Human Development Report, Kalikot is ranked 70 out of 75 districts in Nepal. The region it is located in also shows statistics of 57% of the children below five years are malnourished and 81% of the total population above 10 years of age must perform extreme forms of physical labor to earn a living.
The roads do not reach this village. In order to access it you must take a man powered metal basket across a large river (created by an NGO) then hike three hours up 6,000 ft in elevation to reach Lalu. We have witnessed teenagers regularly transporting 40-50kg on their back and hike between their village and the local market.
The development we have witnessed at the Modern Model Residential School.
On our way to the village we had a truck load of supplies transported to the school. The two founders of the school traveled to various cities to purchase and gather items necessary for school facility improvement. The supplies include a wide range of materials from solar panels and batteries to sleeping bags and rugs. On our arrival to the village, the school curriculum is on pause with holiday programs available for students who wish to participate. Most of the time was used to renovate the school and install the new materials from this trip. Many lower income families pay for tuition by providing services to help the school in these renovations and daily school functions. In just two short weeks, the school was repainted, the library was created and organized, a basketball court was created, mud walls were freshened, and even the first wi-fi in the village was installed. All of that, just the tip of the iceberg in creating positive changes to the lives of these children.
Why it is important to support local initiatives rather than creating new initiatives.
Supporting local initiatives is often more effective than to donate to large charity organizations that are aiding as foreign sources. There are various types of non-profit organizations nowadays. Some create long term changes while others only short term relieves. In our current society there is often times what is called "poverty porn", where people monetize on the sympathy and a need for self identification in first world citizens by providing programs that allows these people to become "saviors" of an exotic group of less fortunate people. I can go on for days on why that is harmful far more than beneficial, but that is for another time.
When we aid local initiatives we are entrusting to the locals for their knowledge of their social and political environment. These people have a much better understanding of what the people of their community want and how to carry out changes in efficient manners. By providing them with the resources they require, positive changes can be made adapted to the existing lifestyles rather than imposing on them.
What can you do?
You can choose to donate to the MMRS on their official website through Paypal here. If you are currently a student in college you can also apply for their fellowships and internships here. If you do not fit those categories but have something to contribute you can always contact the school here. The school welcomes all forms of support. It can come in forms of valuable information or suggestions if you are professionally experienced in rural educational development or sustainability development. It can come as opportunity for collaborative effort from an organization you may be a part of. It can also come in forms of simple encouragement. Show the MMRS your support.
Tell us your thoughts on the MMRS. Do you know of other small local initiatives that are worth supporting? Share down below in the comments section!
(Wing Ng came to volunteer at our first school for 2 weeks. Originally, this article was published on Wing's blog