… in conversation with Kamal Chepang, teacher in Chitwan
Do you have to accept poverty as fate or even God-given? Is 90 Percent Illiteracy Acceptable? Unfortunately, when we shake our heads naturally, people in Nepal often think differently. But not in Dhamili, one of the villages in which we from Back to Life are active. Mr. Kamal Chepang is a teacher at the local school and answered a few questions at the end of 2019 that aptly reflect the current situation.
What was the educational situation like 10 years ago and what has changed since then?
Nobody here was aware of the importance of education, most of the children only went to school for a year or two, if at all. Until Back to Life came. The organization had a whole “development package” ready that included all households. Various self-help groups were founded and people’s awareness was changed through education. Children now go to school as a matter of course, receive a warm meal there every day, and are supported by the educational program and other educational aids. We hardly ever drop out of school.
What other improvements are you seeing in the village?
Dhamili was a typical Chepang village. People gathered roots and berries. All of that is different. We learned how to make money from agriculture. We now grow tomatoes, ginger or turmeric, even bananas – all goods for which there are good markets. In addition, corn and millet, many raise goats and sell the meat. Back to Life taught in savings groups how we can achieve more together. As a result, some started small businesses, such as shops, which also extremely shortens our distances. Houses with metal roofs, solar light, smoke-free stoves: the village has changed completely. Not to forget the subject of hygiene. People are washing themselves with soap, brushing teeth, keeping clothes and houses cleaner more regularly. Education can do a lot.
What about issues like child marriage?
Back to Life protects the children as best it can. In the “Childs Clubs” the children get to know their rights and enforce them together more and more often. Child marriages have fallen sharply, as has the problem of child labor.