Nepal: Snapshots of hope from March 2018

Snapshots of Hope

Traveling to Nepal (or any developing country for that matter) can often be seen in a series of pictures or images that we can look back on and learn from. The pictures can be symbols of need, progress or hope. On my recent return trip to Nepal to review work done by Edge of Seven I also had a series of images that were import in telling a story of the importance of girls’ education in fighting poverty.

IMG_9864The first picture is from Salleri, Nepal in the Everest region of Nepal (the Solukhumbu). The White Hills School has about 600 students who attend. Unlike many schools in the area, these students are all attending most days. Whereas many other schools may have 300, 500 or 600 students (total) but a far fewer number attend each day, especially on the days when the visitors AREN’T arriving. This day this month at the White Hills School had the students lined up for their morning assembly of calisthenics, song, and marching off to class.

What I find encouraging at the school is the number of girls. This school serves K-12 students, which is rare in Nepal since mandatory education only goes through 10th grade. Here though, 11th and 12th grade (so called “plus2”) are also served and there are a good number of girls who stay at the school all the way through this critical educational milestone. Encouraging. And the school is doing several encouraging things to help girls stay in school. More on this in additional posts.

IMG_9992Another snapshot of hope from my time in Nepal was on a winding, narrow road commuting 10 hours to Kathmandu. We passed three different women’s marches — it was International Day of Women — and while each one was small, they were symbolically important. Over the span of a couple hours those three groups that we saw were making a statement loud and clear. Equal opportunity and equal treatment are important to raising families and villages out of poverty.

As we sped down the sometimes paved (sometimes not) road at speeds from 80KMH down to 10KMH for the rocks, potholes and washouts, I realized that all over the country small groups of women were marching just like this. And no one was there to see them, hear them, or take pictures. But it amounted to a huge number of women all across Nepal and if you extend this out to Asia and her larger neighbors, it was a groundswell of voices for an issue that is deeply rooted in Education.

IMG_9976At the end of our journey we met with the leaders of a small hostel who help girls get an advanced education. The concept is simple. Create a free place for the girls to call home while they get their “plus2” education. Because the distance to the school from their homes is so large (1-3 days hike) the girls HAVE to live somewhere. And this place is free. Girls can then attend school for 11th and 12th grade. Edge of Seven worked with The Small World (a Nepali NGO) to build the school which is now self-sustaining and run by the community.

But this snapshot of the girls who run the hostel for 30 girls getting an education that will help them defeat rural poverty is actually a meeting to do a bit more. The girls in the dorm are interested in starting a coop with Edge of Seven support. The training and entrepreneurial skills to launch, run and succeed at this effort are in works for the planning and funding. The coop would include all the girls in a business venture which would continue with each new class that arrives at the hostel each year. Girls would be able to earn money with which they could save, reinvest in their coop, or invest in helping them break down barriers to their education. For example, the girls each take turns walking home (that same 1-3 days) to get food from their families, bringing it back to school so that they have food for the following weeks. Instead of the long hikes, the coop might allow them to purchase food and spend that hiking time on their studies.

In each of the snapshots — girls in school, women’s marches, and meetings to build business skills — the hope that we can and will succeed grows. The dedication of organizations such as Edge of Seven, The Small World are yielding results. But more importantly, girls attending school, women marching and launching new teen projects for economic independence is creating higher community ownership and the foundation for large scale change.

See you down the trail –

PM

 


IMG_9928Peter Mason is the executive director of Edge of Seven which focuses its seven principles on girls’ education through building projects and entrepreneurial programs which create impacts in rural communities of Asia and East Africa. Learn more about Edge of Seven at www.edgeofseven.org.

Advertisements

International Women’s Day 2017

Today we celebrate the enduring strength of women all around the world … and recommit ourselves to fighting even harder for girls’ education and women’s empowerment. On this International Women’s Day, we recognize the incredible value that women of all backgrounds add to every socio-economic system around the world — while receiving lower wages, experiencing greater inequities, discrimination, harassment, and economic insecurity.
Continue reading

D365-w52-m12 — Thank you for a wonderful year

Thank you for a wonderful year at Edge of Seven. We have been consistently blessed by all our supporters, donors, volunteers, interns, friends, family and staff. All of you — Thank you so much. We’ve done great work this year and celebrating it with you all through email, social media, meetings, events, videos, blog posts, and phone calls is an incredible experience.

This year saw us evolve as we built classrooms AND communities. We supported new families and communities in Rwanda where we built a Training Center for a coop that needed space to train, to office and to store their crops. This vital space allows them to continue on their path of economic empowerment for the families and their community. This effort is exactly what we want to be doing — putting effort into building spaces AND communities themselves to succeed.

Our work in Nepal demonstrated this as well. We worked to support our on-the-ground partners in building classrooms while also building up “School Building Committees” to be vibrant agents of change in their villages and districts. This double-benefit effort creates systems that yield community ownership and empowerment by decreasing dependency. We continued our work in Naro Moru, Kenya on the Women’s Resource Center.

kenya-girls-dsc_0261

All of you helped us to make that happen. Thank you. We will keep moving forward in 2017, with your incredible support in all the ways that you give it. To all of you who have already given gifts of time, support, encouragement and money — THANK YOU. For all of you who wait until hour 20-24 of day 365 to make your donation — THANK YOU TOO — and don’t wait too long 😉  http://bit.ly/2iAE0u5

If you have it in your plans for one last gift (or your first) this year, we are only $2796 from our goal on Global Giving. This special project helps us build new classrooms and communities in Nepal and you can also get a bonus by setting up a recurring donation here where your first donation will be matched 200% http://bit.ly/2iAE0u5  — should you wish to give generally to the organization please give through our Colorado Gives site: http://bit.ly/2ij40g0

On behalf of the staff, Board of Directors, Advisory Board, volunteers, interns and supporters have a great final few hours of 2016 and ‘here’s to the start of a wonderful New Year.’

— Peter Mason, Executive Director

mason-2015_np_ec_100715_4965-1000

Great Granddaughters event recap

In case you missed it… Great Granddaughters – The Recap

On October 6th, 2016, Edge of Seven hosted its annual event and celebration of girls’ education. The event title and theme this year was “Great Granddaughters,” which emphasizes Edge of Seven’s principle of focusing on future generations. It’s one thing to serve and impact the populations of today, but Edge of Seven strives to create change that will endure beyond the women and girls of today, and continue to improve life for their great granddaughters, too. We keep future generations in mind when we build schools with infrastructures that can endure natural disasters, when we teach women and girls skills that they can pass on to their families, and when we reach out to rural communities to find out what they need to thrive on their own.

picture1

We kicked off the evening at the Summit Church with drinks, delicious Nepali cuisine from Sherpa House in Golden (http://ussherpahouse.com/) and a silent auction for attendees to browse and cast bids. Some of the silent auction items that were available included jewelry pieces by Kendra Scott, a group wine tasting package at Bonacquisiti Wine Company, Patagonia sweaters, Icelantic Skis, brewery tours, and EarthTreks Climbing Center passes. Overall there were 65 items in the silent auction!

Shannon Galpin delivered a beautiful and inspiring keynote presentation for our event, describing some of the work she has done with empowering girls in Afghanistan through bicycles! Shannon is the founder of Mountain2Mountain and Combat Apathy, amongst other projects, and works with the women’s cycling team of Afghanistan. The women of this boundary-breaking cycling team are some of the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for 2016 ( http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2016/afghan-women-cycling-team/ ), a title that Shannon Galpin also earned herself in 2013 ( http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2013/shannon-galpin/ ). You can read more about Shannon’s activist and non-profit work here: http://shannongalpin.com

 

picture2

We also held a live auction after Shannon’s presentation to further raise funds for Edge of Seven’s projects. Guests went home with African safari trips in their future, Denver date night packages, a Nepalese dinner for 10, a Breckenridge ski home for 3 nights for 15 people, and even a pair of brand new skis from Golden-based Icelantic Skis!

We had a great turnout of about 180 people that came together in the mutual interest of empowering girls around the world through education and economic opportunities. Thank you to all of our attendees, donors, sponsors, and volunteers who were a part of Edge of Seven’s event this year. It is truly thanks to your time, support, and generosity that Edge of Seven has the tools to change lives in Rwanda, Nepal and Kenya. The funds raised from Great Granddaughters will create concrete impacts that will last for generations.

It is easy to fall into a discouraged mindset when one thinks about how many girls around the world simply do not have equal rights and opportunities to education, but the vast support for Edge of Seven’s mission and projects that we saw at this event was nothing short of beautiful and encouraging. The passion and understanding of the necessity of girls’ education is spreading, and while the world is far from achieving universal education, actions are being taken, and positive change is happening on a global scale. Edge of Seven will continue to support sustainable infrastructure projects and educational programs that empower women and girls around the world until rural and developing communities are able to grow independently, with women who are just as successful as men.

Here’s to another year of education, empowerment, and new opportunities for women and girls to thrive around the world!

EdgeOfSeven_BrandingStandards

Special thanks to our Changemaker Sponsors!

OTUBNS & Conscious Real Estate Co Branded Logo - 300 DPI

 https://www.facebook.com/TheConsciousGroup/
https://www.facebook.com/JacalynGallegosHallmarkColorado

Our event sponsors, Conscious Real Estate and Jacalyn Gallegos Mortgage Loan Originator, help support organizations like ours through real estate. When you buy a home with the Conscious Real Estate/OTUBNS partnership, Conscious Real Estate will contribute 10% of their commission to our organization and OTUBNS will add an additional $500.

 

International Women’s Day is every day

While today may be International Women’s Day (http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/index.shtml) sponsored by the UN and there may be a brief uptick in awareness, realize that some organizations hold this as their motto for 365 days a year.

Edge of Seven works every day toward creating access to education for girls and to break down barriers to women achieving the skills they need to start a business, improve their family or community, and to begin to escape from poverty.

It’s not a one-day salute, but a daily mission to make things better.

IWD-2016-day38-sm

Build classrooms. Build dorms for girls in Salleri Nepal with “The Small World” so they can attend school instead of walking for days to get to a school. Build a women’s resource center in Naro Moru (with the community group ACCESS) so women can build their own businesses. Work with communities in the Solukhumbu in Nepal to install a water supply. Build temporary learning centers after the earthquakes in Nepal so that there is a roof over the girls when they go to school during the monsoon. Install a computer classroom to help girls achieve their full potential. Work with “Africa Development Promise” to build a warehouse-office in Rwanda for a women’s coop so that they can build a better life for their families.

And let’s not rest on our laurels and “celebrate.” Let’s look at all the amazing and powerful things that we can do right now to make the lives of women and girls better in the developing world. Today Edge of Seven is launching 3 of the 7 new school buildings in the Solukhumbu that will keep girls in school. All 7 buildings (14 classrooms) will be completed this year. But even better is that next year that number will go from 7 to 28 buildings! We have to and we will do more — do better — make more strides for women and girls around the world. And not on one day, we’ll do it — every. single. day.

I hope that you will join us. Like our facebook page (www.facebook.com/edgeof7) or follow us on twitter (www.twitter.com/edgeofseven) or make a donation. If you’re interested in joining us this year to see our work in the field shoot us an email (http://www.edgeofseven.org/contact/)  and we’ll contact you with details.

Yea! for International Women’s Day. Now let’s go celebrate the next 297 days this year by doing good work.

Cheers — Peter Mason, Executive Director and the rest of the Edge of Seven team and partners

FAQ Subpage

IWD-2016-day38

Educated, Empowered and Unstoppable: First Class of Girls at Our Salleri Hostel has Graduated!

This month, we are celebrating the amazing achievements of the 38 girls at our Salleri Girls Hostel who recently graduated from higher secondary school, fulfilling their dreams of achieving a higher education. These girls were the first to move in to our hostel when we completed it two years ago, and it is truly remarkable to see how far they have come since then. A big congratulations to these inspiring young ladies!!

 

jpeg-2

To fully understand the challenges these girls were facing in their lives before they came to the hostel, consider that seven out of every 10 girls in the Everest region of Nepal don’t get to attend higher secondary school. This high dropout rate is attributed to several cultural and societal factors. Many girls cannot continue onto a higher education due to household obligations and early marriages. In rural areas, commute times are lengthy, and there is often a shortage of adequate schools nearby. Most girls cannot spare the time it takes to commute to and from school. Finally, many parents don’t see the value of educating their daughters since they themselves are uneducated.

In November of 2010, Edge of Seven collaborated with our local Nepalese partner, The Small World, to construct a hostel in the Everest region of Nepal in order to house college-bound girls from rural areas where higher education is not available. We completed construction in the summer of 2011 and continue to run vocational, leadership and language programs for the girls who were accepted.

This week the Salleri Girls Hostel also welcomes 40 new girls with similar ambitions, dreams and hopes who are excited to take advantage of the opportunities offered at the hostel. In the words of Karma Sherpa, founder and director of The Small World: “The girls will learn to live their lives to the fullest and multiply the power of education within their community to create opportunities for those who can make best use of it.”

Thank you to everyone who supported Edge of Seven, The Small World, and especially the girls in reaching this milestone!

Completed hostel

Completed hostel

 

We would also like to mention that there were two girls who could not complete their higher education at the hostel, as they were married at the ages of 17 and 16 a few weeks prior to their exams last year. We wish them the very best and hope that their time at Salleri Hostel offered them valuable lessons an empowered sense of self!

The New Face of Girls’ Education: Malala Yousufzai

 

By: Alli Tolbert, Communications & Marketing Intern
1350706037760.cached

The well-publicized story of the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was targeted and shot by Taliban members on a bus ride to school in the fall of 2012 continues to stand as a powerful reminder of the obstacles facing girls education and its advocates. Malala was an open advocate for girls’ rights to education in her home country of Pakistan.

An excerpt from Shehrbano Taseer’s article in the Daily Beast describes Malala’s prior involvement in the pro-girl’s education cause:

“Malala was only 11 when she started blogging entries from her diary for the Urdu-language website of the BBC…Malala wrote about life under Taliban rule: how she hid her schoolbooks under her shawl and how she kept reading even after the Taliban outlawed school for girls…

…In three short years, Malala became the chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat, was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, was the runner-up of the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. More recently she started to organize the Malala Education Foundation, a fund to ensure poor girls from Swat could go to school.”

As a young, promising pioneer in peace and education in her home region of Swat, Taliban members perceived Malala as a threat and a symbol of Western thinking. Her story is an inspiring one and many say it is a miracle that she has survived the gunshot wound to her head. The attack reflects the daunting task ahead for advocates and organizations determined to educate girls worldwide. Since gender equality and girls’ access to education is a paramount issue around the globe, Malala’s strength and courage is an encouraging message to those of us who support girls gaining access to education.

In this video, Malala speaks publicly for the first time since being targeted and shot in October 2012. Her composed, confident demeanor and thoughtful words are truly encouraging:

“I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.” -Malala