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Monday, 23 January 2012

Time to go to Work


Meet Jagganath Mahato (above).  

We call him Jugge, and he's the coordinator of WELNepal's literacy program.  He's responsible for meeting the women who want to learn to read and write in their own language for the first time in their lives.  Jugge helps select a relatively educated woman in the village to be the teacher.  He also arranges training for all those women will teach their villagers the Nepali ABC's.  He arranges the purchase of the text books, work books and teaching materials. He is also responsible for visiting all the classes on a regular basis to ensure that the program is running as smoothly as possible.

This year, Jugge presented WELNepal with a list of 40 women's groups who want to start our eight-month Basic Literacy Class.  WELNepal's budget will NOT be able to fund half of those groups. The rest of the 600 or so women in the other 20 or more classes will have to stay illiterate for yet another year.  As the Nepalis would say, "Ke Garne"....What to do?

After Jugge ensures the completion of the women's literacy classes, Harimaya Bhandari (above), takes over to continue the education and growth of the women. 

Harimaya has been coordinating projects for WELNepal for the past six years.  We realized that teaching a woman to read and write is only the first step.  For example, a woman can now read, but what is she going to read? Harimaya has built fourteen libraries, so that as many of our graduates as possible have access to interesting and educational books.  Harimaya arranges lectures on health, women's rights and empowerment, and ecology.  She also arranges for organic farming training.  Land is rented for the the women's groups to grow organic produce for home consumption, and much to the women's delight, sale. The women also grow mushrooms as part of an income generating program.

Harimaya also oversees our scholorship program, which funds those young girls who are scholastically gifted, but come from families whose parents are either too poor to pay the school fees or are too disinterested in educating women.  I have added a photo of two of our "bright lights", Samjhana and Suraksha (below).  Both girls would, in all probability, been married off by the family without our sponsor's help.  There is no sense in having an extra mouth in the family to feed. 

Between our two coordinators, Jugge and Harimaya, we now have to decide which 15 or 20 groups of women will receive literacy classes this year and which 20 or 25 groups of women will have to wait. Believe me, it's hard to tell some women that change will have to wait. 

Time to go to work.