The mission of NCHEF is to improve the health, education and well being of impoverished children and women in Nepal. The focus is on two very remote villages, Bung and Chheskam, in the northern Solu Khumbu region. By working with the priorities of the villagers our goals are to create sustainable improvements and self-reliance.
People living in these villages are in need of the most basic medical care. Though each village has a health clinic it is staffed by minimally trained government health assistants. In one village the health worker comes form a village that is many hours hike and the service is not on a regular or consistent basis. There is a shortage of equipment and basic medical supplies; clinic shelves are largely bare. Folk medicine is popular and villagers often turn to the local shaman for help. Information about hygiene, nutrition and sanitation is lacking.
Infant mortality rates are alarmingly high in Nepal - approximately 7 out of every 100 infants die. Maternal mortality rates are also among the highest in the world - more than 1 in every 200 mothers die in childbirth. One in every 11 children in Nepal dies before age 5. Rates in remote areas are often even higher. The villages have no midwives, doctor or nurse. The nearest hospital is many days walk over the rugged terrain.
To begin to address these issues, NCHEF is funding mid-wife training for a woman from each village, Raj from Chheskam and Manu from Bung. We also have Datta, a young man from Bung, who worked hard in college to overcome the limited education he received in the village and succeeded in passing the exam for medical school. We are funding his medical training and when completed he will go back to the village and be a doctor for the surrounding villages. NCHEF has also sent medical supplies to the village. So much more is needed.
According to UNESCO, Nepal is one of the ten least literate countries in the world. Adequate education is lacking in the villages. The average literacy rate in the two districts is only about 52% for males and 34% for females. Education is not compulsory in Nepal and government schools are often unaffordable because families must pay for uniforms, books, exam fees and supplies. For many families these supplies are financially out of reach so their children cannot attend school at all or can only attend for a couple of years. Girls are more likely to be kept out of school, as education of boys is often considered more important. The government schools are understaffed and in the lower grades the classrooms are very overcrowded. For example in one primary school of about 100 students there was only one teacher and a helper. At some schools they’re over 60 students crowded in a classroom. Many teachers have had minimal training and being in a remote area they do not have access to further training. Qualified teachers are reluctant to live in such remote areas because of the lower standard of living.
To help address these issues, NCHEF is funding the salaries of additional teachers. We try to find qualified young people originally from the village who were fortunate enough to be able to further their education in Kathmandu and who have a vested interest in the education of the village a whole. NCHEF has also helped build a private primary school in Chheskam for students who cannot afford to go to the government school. Science equipment and reading books have been sent to the schools. There is still so much that can be done. The villagers are very grateful for any help in educating their children because it is extremely important to them.