BACK TO SCHOOL

Odds are your feeds are flooded these days with proud parents sending their kids off to a higher grade. They’re probably holding a chalkboard that reads what they did this summer and what they want to be when they grow up. They’re probably wearing a brand new back pack filled with blank notebooks and high hopes for the year ahead. And you probably scrolled right on passed, smiling to yourself and not thinking much about it at all.

But somewhere east, out in the rural mountains that hang off the border of a country moving fast from its ancient ways and hastily toward development, is the mountain child, dressed in uniform and preparing for a long walk through steep trails to his school. He’s excited. But he’s scared, too.

School is different here from the rest of the world. He won’t take a bus with other excited students, he’ll walk mostly alone down long, windy trails far away from his home to a school of just a few who are fortunate enough to attend.

For many in the Himalayas, school is a sacrifice. Because of the lack of development in these areas, schools are few and far between. For most families, it makes more sense to keep kids home. Extra hands mean extra help and with everything riding on the years’ crops, parents throughout the mountains can’t afford a kid in school.

For the small, fortunate 10% of mountain children that do attend, they often live on campus with other classmates, since the way there is so grueling. And even then, classes usually only go up to grade 8. After that, there are only a handful who travel down the mountain, into the big city to continue their education.

It’s those students’ stories that are whispered through the fields and neighborhoods in the high Himalayas: stories of hope of a different life and a brighter future. It is those stories that spark hope, that one day all the mountain children will know what it means to be taught about the world beyond their own mountains.

We know that education is powerful. But we also know that the terrain is complicated when it comes to education in these rural, high altitude areas. We hope those families that do send their kids to school find the financial and logistical sacrifices worth their while. And we are working day in and day out to improve the quality of existing education and to create opportunities for more and more children to get books in their hands and education in their future. This is the hope of the Himalayas, and we know we’ll get there someday. 

 

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