A unique request for CICED to partner in a new school project in Helambu

By Rita Tisdall and Johnny Baltzersen, CICED

Nepal has undergone substantial political changes over the last three decades. The driving factor behind Nepal’s People Movement was the aspirations of the Nepali people for a more inclusive and equal society. In 2015, a new constitution was ratified, transforming the country from a unitary state into a Federal Democratic Republic.

Today there are three levels of government: federal, provincial and local. A substantial amount of powers are now with the municipalities. Each municipality is led by a Lord Mayor.

The responsibility to build infrastructure, deliver child protection, health and educational services are now the responsibility of the municipality. However, they face many barriers, such as lack of resources, of technical capacity, poor information systems, and remoteness of some communities.

A recent study which highlighted rural municipalities’ situation, told that, “elected local representatives, articulated the need to understand their new roles and responsibilities, the ‘how-to’ in conducting the affairs of the office including planning/budgeting, good governance (e.g. human rights, social justice, gender equality, social inclusion, etc.).

Parts of Helambu Municipality is known for child trafficking. Deep engrained in the culture, hundreds of years ago girls were collected from this area by the then Rana ruling class to serve them in their Kathmandu and Indian palaces. It was seen as a privilege and a source of wealth for the remote poor Tamang communities.

Over time this practice disappeared and, in its place, came more “modern day” trafficking practices with young girls been send to the brothels of Delhi and Mumbai. Communities talked openly of these dealings until development projects entered the area and girls returned home with aids. Today, these community are among the poorest in Nepal with a huge misuse of alcohol and a now “secretive” network of trafficking.

When the first Lord Mayor, he himself grew up in the area took his post he asked all NGOs and INGOs to leave the area, he argued that more harm than good was being done, he saw a closed, dependent community. He criticized the competition he saw among organizations and the short-term scattered interventions.

Two years have now passed. During a recent monitoring visit the Lord Major contacted CICED, our partner JUST Nepal Foundation and the Green Schools and invited us on a three-day visit to this remote area. Requesting a long-term whole school intervention with focus on inclusion, relevant pedagogical practices and child protection mechanisms.

All parties signed a letter of intent committing to investigate the possibilities of conducting a long-term project in the area. Which means: To be continued.

School in a Tamang village in Helambu

The Lord Major of Helambu, Mr. Nima Gelbu

The Vice Major, Ms Site Pande

and Ms Rita Tisdall, CICED

on a field visit in Helmut.

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