Known to many as the land of Mount Everest, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world: According to the World Bank, the average annual income in 2011 was only US$540, and one-quarter of all Nepalis lived on less than US$1.25 per day. There is a woeful lack of social and economic infrastructure in the country as a whole, especially in rural areas, where income levels tend to be lower than the national average. People in lower castes and marginalized ethnic minority groups in particular suffer from poverty and exclusion. Within these groups, women suffer the most. Educate the Children is committed to making a difference.
While visiting Kathmandu in 1989, Pamela Carson noticed how many street children there were. She struck up a friendship with three in particular and learned about their lives on the street. What they most wanted, they told her, was to go to school. Pamela had sold her successful business in Boston and spent time in a Zen monastery in Japan. But in meeting those boys, one of whom she eventually adopted as her own son, she found her life's calling. Pamela arranged to put the three boys in school and so was born Educate the Children's original sponsorship program to aid street children, orphans and other disadvantaged children
Pamela threw herself into building an organization so that more kids could have educational opportunities. In 1990 ETC was formally constituted as a nonprofit organization with its head office in Ithaca, New York and an office in Kathmandu led by Kiran Tewari. Three women whom Pamela met along the way - Barbara Cook, Freema Hillman, and Ursula Zeibarth - worked closely with Pamela and Kirin on a volunteer basis and they all put in countless hours building the organization from its humble beginnings. Sadly, Pamela contracted cancer in 1997 and died in 2000. But her legacy lives on in this dedicated and effective organization.
The Beginning of ETC's Unique Approach to Lasting Change
Over time, Pamela and everyone involved with ETC felt that the organization could have a much broader impact on children's educational opportunities by working with families and communities. After a rigorous review of its activities and striving to learn from the long history of development interventions in Nepal, everyone agreed that ETC's strong commitment to education was the best place to start this transformation. Armed with a three-year start-up grant, ETC began building a women's literacy and community development program. That original program has since evolved into ETC's model.
Mira Maiya Singh Rana began working with ETC in 1994 as our Women's Development Program officer. With extensive experience implementing development projects, Mira brought with her a pragmatic sense of what it is possible to achieve working with communities in rural Nepal. Since becoming ETC's Nepal Director in 1997, Mira has helped shape the steady evolution and refinement of ETC's model for lasting positive change in Nepal.