GHAT BESI: A COMMUNITY COMMITTED TO EDUCATION
Of the 144 homes originally standing in Ghat Besi, only four remained after the April 25th 2015 earthquake. Yet, because of its unfortunate geographic location, Ghat Besi was largely ignored by both district governments and NGO’s during the relief process. In May of 2015, CCF delivered $2,500 worth of temporary relief to this community, the first and only emergency aid they received. Included in this assistance was over 1,750 pieces of corrugated tin sheeting intended to serve as temporary shelter for those families who had lost their homes. Independent of CCF the community decided that each family would donate one sheet out of those they had received, to rebuild a temporary home for their local pride: the Ghat Besi Primary School. These donations and remarkable community support combined to achieve this goal in less then two weeks. Meaning that the children of the village were safely returned to school less than one month after the most devastating natural disaster to hit Nepal in over 80 years.
As CCF representatives visited the village five months later to assess the situation, it was this spirit that shone through and clearly demonstrated that the community of Ghat Besi was a very special one, it was this characteristic dedication to education which set them apart.
PRIMARY SCHOOL REBUILD
Beginning in early January CCF, with the help of many Rotary Clubs throughout Spokane Washington, began fundraising for this project, estimated to cost approximately $7,500. Designed by local community leaders, the school was designed to be built along government specifications, highly earthquake-resistant, and to utilize as many local building materials as possible in order to decrease cost, and increase public ownership. In mid February of 2016, work began on the school and less than three months later, right in time for the new school year to begin, the brand new schoolhouse opened its doors to admit its new students!
As traditional farming methods and subsistence agriculture become less and less economically sustainable in remote Nepali villages, an education is one of the only ways for young adults to earn a living at home and in the city. Yet in many cases, local government schools are poorly run, underfunded, and understaffed, with one teacher often coping with as many as three grade levels at a time. The villagers of Ghat Besi, however, long ago acknowledged the importance of education in the active cultivation of their village life and the future of their children, and so set up community based funding to supply their local schools with the necessary resources to help their educational system flourish which included the salaries of two additional teachers. However, these additional funds were impossible following the devastating earthquake. Today, CCF is providing the income for two teachers for two years for the primary school. While this agreement was intended to be short term, CCF is committed to economic development and opportunity in rural areas of Nepal and so, is open to other opportunities.
In 2017 CCF expanded it’s educational programs to the remote village of Ghat Besi. Beginning in the fall of 2016, CCF granted 7 merit and need based scholarships for girls to attend 11th and 12th grade, providing tuition, room and board. The cost of this program is only $600 a year for one girl. With 18-25 girls graduating from 10th class in Ghat Besi each year, CCF hopes to further expand it’s assistance so that every girl may continue her education.