Pauline Sanderson and Jo Pawley have been good friends for over 40 years and in September 2015 they set up the charity 'In Your Hands' to help raise funds for the people of Nepal after the devastating earthquakes in April and May of that year.
2020 changed the world in many ways. Our projects were compromised by the pandemic in Nepal, which like nearly every country was hit hard. Our strategy to support the 5 school communities we are linked continued as soon as it was appropriate. Things in 2023 were back to “normal” but there are still obstacles.
This is the eighth year of a strategy that hopes to be able to leave the communities we support in a better and more self sufficient state than before the earthquake. We have achieved some goals and en route to others including:
1) re-building/repairing five schools in the worst effected areas of the earthquake. ACHIEVED
2) aiding the development of education through teaching training in partnership with First Steps Himalaya Teacher Training. ACHIEVED AND ON-GOING
3) supporting health and well-being of the communities through a women's project In partnership with Days for Girls Nepal. ACHIEVED
4)We had started a pilot research scheme for a community generated funding stream for the schools. A successful charity is one that can leave a community not depending on donations. This was our goal. However, this proved to have too many obstacles for our small charity. We have diverted our attention to achievable results. TRIED BUT NOT POSSIBLE
5) 2022-23 saw us support one women, Pooja, through a 2 year training program for outdoor leaders, rafting, trekking and international qualifications in partnership with Summit Adventure Academy. For a full and detailed explanation please see our blog. It wa a very positive experience for Pooja but local culture and family decisions meant she could not continue her career. We have decided this project needs a different sponsor for a longer strategic approach.
Regular updates will be posted here and on our Facebook page on how the money raised is being spent so that you are able to see the difference this fund raising and any help that you are able to give is making.
We did not want to just build schools. We want to build communities that are healthy and believe in education. We want the communities to have pride in the schools built for their children and encourage them to embrace the benefits of education. We also want the communities to benefit from the health and well-being opportunities being offered as part of our strategy.
Over the first few years we worked closely with The Mandala Organisation (TMO). They have been at the coal face organising the building and repairs of our schools. We have learnt so much and are now in contact with more teams and individuals who have offered expertise and support. We have developed partnerships with individuals and organisations and they are part of our strategy moving forward.
For updates on our on our strategy visit our blog pages which are like a diary or activities and plans.
To ensure every penny is used to benefit Nepal. Many of our wonderful friends have already donated their skills, experience, time and work for free. We will not spend money on administration, costs or expenses. We are committed to picking up these costs ourselves wherever necessary. These include the costs of any of the trips we make to Nepal for In Your Hands.
PROJECT 1: FUND RAISE
In 2015 Jo and Pauline organised a tremendously successful one week road-trip of motivational talks on the Everestmax Expedition in London together with an on-line auction. Over £20 000 was raised. Since then there have had so many people help us and we are now over £100 000 in total! There have been teams and individuals that have raised money through hosting events to sell Nepalese products ( helps Nepal too and Jo is particularly good at this ) as well as sponsored runs and bike rides and asking their companies to match fund. Amazing! We have also partnered with other charities who are now championing specific projects within the IYH strategy such as nutrition, uniforms and building. Please visit our IYH Supporters page to see their stories.
We have also raised funds and awareness by organising trips to Nepal. Firstly a trek with a visit to the schools. Jo has subsequently lead teams of supporters and Young Ambassadors (see page) to give the full experience of why and what we are hoping to achieve by visiting all the schools. In 2018, Jo went with a group from Sydenham High School who are linked to one school in Nepal to volunteer and meet the children and teachers they have worked so hard to help by fundraising.
PROJECT 2: REBUILD/REPAIR SCHOOLS
Over 5000 schools were destroyed and over 16 000 were badly damaged in the earthquake. It is vital that Nepal's children get back to school. We were guided by Mahendra to choose schools in areas that needed the most help and were likely to be low on the priority list in Nepal. We choose six schools. We are now in a position to say they are all built/repaired to a higher standard than they had before. They all have toilets, washbasins, furniture, desks and chairs, whiteboards, book cases and the early learning have carpets.
Research has shown that if children are out of school for long periods many fall into child labour, child marriage and sexual exploitation. Out-of-school children are also at greater risk of violence, rape and recruitment into fighting, prostitution, and other life-threatening, often criminal, activities. Many will simply never return to the classroom. So by re-building schools we feel we have saved lives!
PROJECT 3: LINK SCHOOLS
We have five schools in the UK that agreed to link to a school project in Nepal. They all agreed to fund raise a minimum of £1500. These schools have all raised more than the minimum and will hopefully be linked for life and share so many benefits. There is no computer network yet but when it comes there will be so many opportunities to share teaching resources as well as fun stories and videos from both the UK and Nepal. We see this a a long term strategy that will help to make each school self sustainable with occasional help from their link schools by fund raising or sharing of resources.
This strategy was the dream and to a large extent was a motivator of us and the schools. However, we need to be honest. The dream goals are hard to replicate in reality. U.K. schools are busy and Nepal schools have not developed the communication skills. We are left with good will and good intentions but very little action between the U.K. and Nepal link schools. This is not a criticism, it is another reality check on what we can achieve. Everybody benefitted from the relationships we created but they are not ones that will last into the future without a huge amount of management. Let’s see.
PROJECT 4: UNIFORMS & HYGIENE SYSTEMS
Every child in the five schools we support now has a school uniform. This is important on several levels. They now have a uniform that means they belong to a unit, they will higher their self esteem and it is about encouraging them to look after their kit and be proud. Life skills are embedded in this strategy.
Each school has also been given training by Shanta (our IYH Manager 2017-19) on hygiene. She has explained, demonstrated and tried to implement systems to make hygiene part of daily routine. Washing hands after going to the toilet and before eating is not only a life skill, it will prevent sickness and therefore time away from school. In 2021 Sanjeev lead a more formal series of workshops in each school community focussed on women, motherhood and personal hygiene. Please see our blog.
PROJECT 5: TEACHER TRAINING
Teachers are crucial to successful education. In the schools we support, some of the teachers have had training to a basic level and some have had none at all. In both cases there is a hunger and need for some current teaching practices. The communities do not appear to have any belief in education and it’s benefits. The teachers are key to changing this both in the children and their families.
We are very happy that the teachers and Head Teachers from the schools have really bought into our Teacher Training Program. It is essential to our goal of improving education and therefore choice to this generation of children.
Our goal is to encourage the IYH communities to believe in the value of their children’s education. We want to help energise the teachers to deliver the national curriculum in a more interactive and engaging way.
One of our focuses was on improving teachers’ English language skills so that they can deliver the English language curriculum and develop the link school relationship. Our other future focus was on teachers’ computer skills. This is a pre-requisite for any computer provision. Both of these are goals in that have proved so much harder to achieve to the point we have decided to stope the training and focus all energy on Teacher Training so they are helped to get the basics right.
Currently we have several key people involved. Jane Halsall, has been our UK Teacher Training Guru. We also have an invaluable resource in First Steps Himalaya Training School. They are a charity which started in 2010 and are based in the Sindhupalchok area. They have a purpose built Teacher Training residential site. They have a fascinating background and tried and tested formula to train Nepalese primary teachers. They deliver 5 day residential course for nearly 20 teachers in 2018. They have delivered another two 5 days residential courses in 2019. There were another two 5 days residential courses planned for 2020 but of course they were delayed due to the corona virus. The courses started again and in 2023 there were two sets of 5 days residential courses. The courses were supported by a visiting trainer to their schools delivering CPD and making sure the new teaching resources are being used properly in the classroom.
The teachers seem more motivated, the children seemed more engaged and the communities will hopefully continue to believe in education despite the break in delivery.
We have a further 2year strategy in place with First Steps which is a mixture of on-site visits, coaching and residential training. That will bring us to the end of 2025. Reports will be available on our blog.
PROJECT 7: WOMEN PROJECT
This was a huge project. There is a global drive to enable women. We are part of that. We partnered with Days for Girls Charity. Please visit our women's project page to see what we are doing and why. Sue Adlam-Hill was the IYH Co-ordinator and she has done an amazing job of co-ordinating Days for Girls to deliver a seamless series of workshops. Her report is detailed and inspiring.
PROJECT 8: SCHOOL LUNCHES
Two of the schools we support needed support with school lunches. The big problem is that there is not enough locally produced food for the children to have lunch during school. This means that children miss school or can't concentrate well enough during lessons. Thanks to a charity partnership from Italy, we were able to supply a kitchen and food for the first three years. We know that attendance has improved along with performance. Please see our blog about this project and whom we need to thank. However, good news in 2022 meant that the government has changed its policy and is providing school lunches to all the schools! Great news.
PROJECT 9: COMMUNITY FUNDING PROJECTS
In 2021 we started to work with Sanjeev, a local expert in helping small rural communities improve their living and working lives. He lead a pilot project to research with the local community and school in Gorkha to support a community project that will create jobs while providing funds for the school lunches. Again, our goal was to create non donor dependant communities. Sanjeev is a man who would not give up easily. He knows how these things work and how to make them work. However, despite initial approval and support from all the groups involved, when it came to getting commitment from individuals to work with the project, it did not happen. We have concluded that this is an ambitious project as it would need a full time manager for several years to make it work. Again, we can’t rely on our logical dreams to be realised in reality. Our charity is too small to manage this project so we have decided to walk away as we do not want to do a bad job and cause problems. Honesty is the best policy.
PROJECT 10: WOMEN’S OUTDOOR SPONSORSHIP
Jo and Pauline both fell in love with Nepal while travelling and having adventures in the mountains and rivers. We were lucky enough to know Ram Silwal from Summit Adventures who is one of the best raft and kayaking guides, Nepal has ever produced! He and Pauline worked with Equator Expeditions in a golden era of tourism. He is now the Director of Summit Adventures and is so well placed to teach and mentor. They run a 2 month fast track course for westerners wanting to qualify as raft guides and trek leaders. However, alongside this they run a 2 year training and apprentice scheme for Nepalese trainees. This is the course we are embracing, but adding an IYH angle to it. We are sponsoring one women from their local village who would not otherwise be able to have this as a career choice . Please read the blog for details. The hope was that she wLuke inspire and role model what the outdoor industry can offer as a career to women. Currently there are many barriers, our goal was to offer women a choice while maintaining respect for the culture. A balance that we navigated with the help of Ram, Annu Shrestha (Life Trek Nepal) and Maya Gurung and Shailee Bassett…..see the blog! Despite all our best efforts, the cultural needs trumped Pooja career choice and she had to leave the program. She had a wonderful time, learnt so much so it was not a waste of time but it highlighted how many obstacles are still there before our sponsorship will guarantee results. We have decided to step aside and focus on teacher training.
We would like to add that Nepal is moving fast in terms of training women in the outdoors. In the last 12 months, the state has provided training both on rivers and mountains for large groups of women. It could be the start of a much needed change in perspective.
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