Helping Establish a Community Child Care Centre in Rural Nepal: Project 4C Update

By Tineke Casey and Michael Casey

As previously reported our 4C Project concentrates on education in rural Nepal at the youngest ages. Our goal with this project is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to attend school at the appropriate age. Currently older children are often drafted into child care for their younger siblings as both parents are away working all day. Children whose first arrival at school has been delayed, since they were required to stay home to attend to their younger siblings, have a very high dropout rate. If we can solve the child care issue at the village level then all children should be able to attend at their proper age.

A young child caring for an even younger child

For the past year we have run a Community Child Care Centre Pilot Project in the village of Sarkuwa in the Baglung district of Western Nepal. We met with the villagers and explained our concept of a joint development. The villagers rose to the challenge and we agreed to support their effort in establishing a community-based child care centre. A local Board of Directors was established to help establish and run the centre.

The Government of Nepal has been a significant supporter of the work we are doing.

CFFN members Tineke and Michael Casey meet with the Madi village elders to discuss the possibility of an early child care centre

Two teachers were chosen by The Board of Directors and given a small training program and a temporary facility was provided while a purpose-built building was constructed using local materials and labour.

The building is now completed. A second storey had been added to allow for a community meeting place, a clinic space for visiting medical workers and eventually sleeping accommodation for tourists.

View of the new Madi Community Child Care Centre

A meeting with the local villagers to discuss progress brought forward several areas for improvement. Teachers need more training, the hours of the Centre must align with the hours of the school program and (a surprise for us) parents need to see more visible signs of education among the children attending the Centre. According to villagers the ability of their young children to sing songs and speak rudimentary English is essential. It is, to them, the most visible sign of educational progress. We have taken steps to fix these issues.

Sustainability will be the main focus on the Madi 4C project going forward. There are several revenue-generating options we are exploring:

  • Tourism
  • Coffee
  • Entrepreneurial Farming

The Tourism approach will require us to develop a trekking circuit in the region but the potential is high. We will be introducing a new style of trekking to appeal to a different market than the budget traveler. Our “Village Trek” approach will appeal more to people interested in seeing Nepali rural culture up close. Tourism offers many sideline opportunities for revenue generation such as the hiring of local guides and porters, accommodation and feeding, cultural programs and eventually the creation of a market for local handicrafts.

Farmers in the district have been experimenting with coffee growing and marketing for the past several years without success as this is a very competitive and demanding market. Over the longer term we intend to work with farmers, agricultural researchers, organic and fair trade certification agencies, exporters and most importantly, quality control and grading experts to see if we cannot improve the return on investment which is currently nil. This is a multi-year endeavor.

Entrepreneurial Farming is a concept pioneered by IDE-Nepal in training Nepali farmers regarding the intelligent and efficient use of water for growing high value crops such as fresh vegetables in the dry season. Local markets exist within walking distance to sell these products and premium market exists within a day’s travel time. CFFN is working with IDE-Nepal to investigate introducing these methods in the Sarakuwa area.

The project is proceeding and we have learned many lessons we will apply when expanding the 4C program to another village.

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