There are currently an estimated 1.6 million children, between the ages of 5 and 17, enslaved in underage labor in Nepal. Child labor prevents children from obtaining an education, which continues the cycle of suffering for the children and families involved.
Child labor is widespread throughout the Himalayas. Due to poor economic conditions, children start working in the fields as young as AGE 5. Long hours are spent plowing fields, tending livestock, cutting firewood, gathering water, and serving as porters. Many children who do reach school are forced to drop out and return to the fields in less than 1 year. The MountainChild supported village school program is flexible in its academic calendar, allowing children to return to their villages during important harvest seasons. This allows them to help their families, while not interrupting their education. MountainChild is working with local communities to provide education for children while addressing the root cause of child labor. Educating parents and improving farming techniques are at the center of MountainChild’s strategy aimed at getting children into schools and keeping them there.
Historically, there have been few options for the children in remote villages of the Himalayas. With the lack of education and with the demand for help in the fields, most children have ended up working in fields or perhaps working as porters. MountainChild is working to provide opportunities for these children. By bringing in education where it has not existed, and by training villagers how to increase their crop yields, children are free and able to attend schools, reducing the instances of child labor and increasing the number of children receiving an education.
Illiteracy rates among adults are incredibly high in remote areas of the Himalayas. The lack of education can also be seen through the lack of understanding of basic hygiene and sanitation. MountainChild is bringing in education and making ways for the younger generation to avoid a childhood filled with work and no education. Through the opportunities that MountainChild is providing, a new generation is being raised who are receiving an education and who can bring lasting change to their communities.