Fostering A Presence of Hope

Lunchtime is her favorite time of the day. When the smells of dal bhat cooking in the kitchen reach her desk, she knows it’s finally time to take a break, to trade her papers and quiet office for heaping plates of rice and silly pre-schooler’s giggles on a noisy playground. Sangya Bhuti Lama became the director of the Nubri Learning Center in 2019. Her work ethic and leadership capabilities make her great at such a role. But what makes the NLC a vehicle of change in the Himalayas, is her heart and hope for the community it serves. 

Sangya is, at heart, a mountain child and her heart beats deeply for the children of the Himalayas. Born in Nubri, she received a rare shot at an education when she connected with MountainChild and moved to the city at only 7 years old. She worked hard to complete schooling from basic education all the way to receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in rural development. Her ambition didn’t take her to faraway places to make her mark on the world, but back to her hometown. After teaching for three years at a MountainChild early learning center located higher in the Nubri Valley, in 2019, Sangya came back to her home to become the Nubri Learning Center’s director. Her heart for and devotion to see lasting change among the people of the Himalayas is causing hope to spread through the most remote places in the world. 

In general, schools in the Himalayas are scarce with only a handful scattered throughout bigger towns. If a village is too remote, it may make more sense for the parents not to send their children, and instead keep them home to help work. Where there is a school, it starts only at the primary level. The NLC meets a critical need for younger children as they can start at age 3 and graduate from there, prepared to enter primary school.

In these early, formative years, the NLC students develop the building blocks to learning that will set them up for success in their future academic endeavors. Sangya’s main hope is to see them develop a love for learning, as opposed to the typical systematic memorization that happens in many government schools. 

 “I want to make school interesting and fun for them,” Sangya says.

The NLC staff also show up for their neighbors. Aside from functioning as a school and center for young, mountain children to run around, build friendships, and learn important life lessons, it is a center where anyone is welcome to come and learn.

“It is not just a school, it’s a learning center. We will open our doors for anyone who wants to learn,” Sangya shares

The teachers work primarily in their classrooms throughout the day from 8:30am-3:30pm, but their day doesn’t end with the students. After school they all take turns teaching adult literacy classes, helping in the on-campus greenhouse, and assisting with tutoring at the local primary school.

Sangya’s ultimate hope for the learning center is that the way it runs, as well as the way they teach and reach out to the neighborhood, would have a lasting, positive effect on the community. 

“The way that we teach is different. We celebrate every small achievement, we have joy to see them learn,” Sangya shares with pride. “It gives the people a different perspective of love.”

It is a powerful perspective. One that is only possible through maintaining a strong presence within the community, a presence that shows up for a community in need, that provides a space for people to learn and thrive—to feel seen and loved. And we’re seeing that presence pay off as 22 children have graduated from the learning center and moved on to primary school and around 17 adults from nearby communities attend literacy classes weekly. 

The NLC is known as a place that is open and welcoming to everyone; and the demand for more learning centers is growing. 

Read more stories like Sangya’s in this year’s annual report!

Mark your calendars for Giving Tuesday on November 30th when we will be raising $75K to support schools like Sangya’s in the Himalayas! A generous supporter is matching all Giving Tuesday contributions up to $75K so be sure to join us and double your donation! 

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