Published: Wednesday, 18 February 2015
This winter, READ opened three new Centers in the Terai region of southern Nepal, as part of an exciting new partnership with The Reach out to Asia Foundation.
Two of the Centers - Jahada and Pragatinagar - are located in Nawalparasi, a densely populated agricultural region where poverty forces many residents to cross the nearby border to India in search of work. Local literacy rates are low, especially for women. The Pokhariya Center serves the nearby district of Parsa, where only 53% of the population is literate.
READ launched the three Centers with Reach out to Asia in an effort to expand social, educational, and economic opportunities for rural villagers in the region.
In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this new strategic engagement will not only allow us to significantly increase the number of READ Centers in Nepal over four years, but also develop new youth programs across the country, and strengthen our information and communications technology (ICT) resources and programs– benefiting approximately 100,000 people.
Each of the three new READ Centers are owned and operated by the local communities, and provide free access to access to a wide variety of resources, including: a library full of books in both English and Nepali; a safe space for women with specialized educational resources; a range of ICT tools; and educational toys, games, and books for children and youth.
Each Center has also formed a Youth Leadership Subcommittee so that the local youth have a say in what kind of programming and resources come to the Center. READ works in partnership with Restless Development, a youth-led development agency, to implement youth programs across our Centers in Nepal.
Already, youth at eleven READ Centers have participated in a variety of different activities as part of the program, such as forming homework clubs and girls sports clubs. In 2014, 704 youth participated in life skills training and career counseling, and 484 youth received health training.
The Pragatinagar Center serves more than 13,000 villagers, and has already conducted trainings on women’s empowerment and financial literacy for 41 local women, as well as leadership development trainings for 32 villagers.
The Jahada READ Center serves more than 8,000 people, and will soon offer free Internet access. Shortly after an inauguration with more than 3,000 people in attendance, the Center trained villagers on animal husbandry and off-season vegetable farming, empowering local farmers to gain knowledge, build livelihood skills, and earn more income. Jahada is renting out storefronts as a sustaining enterprise to secure the funds necessary to continue providing resources and trainings to the community in the years to come.
The Pokhariya Center serves more than 6,000 villagers and has also begun conducting trainings, including topics such as agriculture, reproductive health and sanitation, and women’s leadership and financial access.
Congratulations to these communities for bringing economic and educational opportunities to thousands of villagers, and special thanks to Reach out to Asia for making these Centers a reality. We look forward to opening three more new Centers and further expanding our youth and ICT programming as part of the partnership this year.