Children are carefully selected on the basis of three criteria:
- Poor/low caste families
- Families must be supportive of education for their child and send them to school everyday in clean uniforms
- Children must want to go to school
All children and families are counseled and coached. We are the only organization that we know of who provides academic and career counseling in Nepal. We set up tutorials, day-schooling, etc. to meet the needs of each child. Inherent in this is good, close supervision and oversight.
Consequently, our attrition rate is pheonmenally low (about 5%) even without considering the population – indigent and illiterate families.
Our success rate is phenomenally high: All of our high school graduates continue on to college and vocational training; all of these students graduate and are in careers.
We pay for our own administrative costs so as NOT to deduct any funds from the sponsor’s educational contribution. This means that the child receives the full amount the sponsor provides for the child’s education. Moreover, the salaries we pay our staff in Nepal are a fraction of what other NGOs (non-governmental organizations) pay, because we specifically recuit them for honesty and dedication.
We have zero tolerance for nepotism, personal-ins, rebates, pay-backs, profit-sharing, and othe forms of bribery. Very few NGOs in the developing world have made this as blatantly apparent as we have. If schools want our business, they must subscribe to our high ethical standards.
Our graduates and students are on our board and we will soon be hiring them to take over the administration and selecting the next generation of students from the disadvantaged.
We have another fund (from separate donations) that cover catastrophic medical costs that might preclude a child from going to school. Because these families are so poor and they teeter on the edge of subsistence, we have had to rescue many children from death and disability, including some parents, in order to “protect our sponsors’ investment.”
We do not feed into the brain drain of the educated elite but make sure that these children receive educations useful in Nepal. We do this by providing Saturday activities called Social Welfare Club where community activism takes place either directly in the community or by having film discussions. This innovative approach is being expanded to many schools.
We also want our sponsors to get something back. The letter exchanges are just part of it. These include updated photos, report cards, letters and ar work, as well as updated information about Nepal and ANSWER. We also feel that our sponsors, as Americans, should be learning while their student is learning. We do presentations, dispatch email newsletters from Nepal, church visits annually to talk to our sponsors, etc. This is an important means for people to directly link with someone in a developing country and begin to understand what poverty and development really entail. We welcome sponsors to come to Nepal with us to meet their children and visit the schools as well as become familiar with important sights and cultural activities there.
We recuite mostly through word of mouth and in “safe havens” such as “liberal churches” where congregants know one another. We have been welcomed into a dozen UU Churches all over the United States. We avoide internet/public advertising because these families and children are extremly vulnerable to predation. Child-trafficing is a hugh problem in Nepal.