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The word 'Pramadaya' means 'upliftment' in Sanskrit

author: Girwani Rana, Founder of Pramadaya Nepal


mutu aims to support Pramadaya’s PROJECT MUSAHAR. Their Mission: Empowering Nepal's Musahar children and their families.


Pramadaya supports the Musahar community
Pramadaya supports the Musahar community

Pramadaya Nepal in collaboration with Daayitwa US

Nepal Rising is raising funds to uplift the Musahar community in Dhanusha, Janakpur. We aim to ensure children from the particular Musahar community consisting of 45 households and their families live a life of dignity with their basic needs met and the Musahar children are provided a platform to unlock their potential.


The word Musahar means "rat catcher" owing to their former occupation of catching rats and eating those rats in times of dire need. The community still relies on eating wheat rats as their economic condition remains poor which makes it challenging for them to afford healthy and nutritional food. The Musahar community has been branded as "untouchables"- the lowest strata in the traditional caste system which further perpetuates social and economic hardships.


By donating you are helping us uplift the Musahar community to realize their potential and stand on their own feet.


Fund Utilization

Short term goals

  • Provision of winter clothing to the community.

Medium term goals

  • We aim to provide economic empowerment to the community through skill training in collaboration with an NGO People Promote Centre based in Dhanusha.

Our business plan will be developed based on donations raised.


Long term goals

  • Create a market for products made by the community and enhance their standard of living to meet nutritional needs, access to education, health and build empowerment.

  • Support education for the children covered in our stories.

  • Foster an environment conducive to learning and overall well-being for the children through online classes tailored for the Musahar children.



Summary

The project doing social work was founded in May 2021 aiming to counteract COVID-19's educational setbacks by linking volunteer tutors with students, later partnering with five schools and aiding marginalized children in Nepal. By 2023, the organization pivoted to support first-generation and socioeconomically disadvantaged learners, evident from their iPad donations to Janakpur, Dhanusha. They were made aware of the issues faced by the Musahar community in Dhanusha and thus began PROJECT MUSAHAR. The Musahar community in Nepal, labeled ' untouchables ', grapples with discrimination, 93% illiteracy, and economic hardships. This community's challenges range from nutritional struggles and educational barriers to deep-seated casteism. To address these issues, the proposed solution is sponsoring children's education and ensuring their basic needs.



Pramadaya’s Background

We started our online initiative owing to the problems COVID-19 caused for education. We aimed to bridge the gap in remote learning due to the unavailability of digital tools. Identifying the idleness of students due to schools lacking digital resources, we initiated connections between volunteer tutors and students.

We focus on the holistic development of the child, inclusive of academic tutoring and a focus on communication, self-awareness, social, leadership, environmental awareness etc. Through successful fundraising and collaborations, we provided educational materials, food items and clothing to marginalized children in rural and urban areas.

In 2023, Pramadaya's focus shifted to empowering first-generation and socioeconomically disadvantaged learners, currently comprising a cohort of 20 students. Pramadaya's recent donation of two iPads to Janakpur, Dhanusha reflects its expansion into rural Nepal.

During the student selection process, Pramadaya uncovered significant challenges in the area, including food scarcity, gender inequality, child marriages, and alcoholism. Dedicated to comprehensive child development, Pramadaya is committed to addressing these issues to unlock children’s potential in Janakpur.

Pramadaya strives to secure essential needs for children in need. This includes ensuring access to nutritious food and suitable clothing and fostering an environment conducive to learning and overall well-being for the children.




Kids with donated pulovers and books
Kids with donated pullovers and books


Madhesh Pradesh's Education Crisis: Gender Disparities, Child Marriages, and the Quest for Equality in Nepal

Madhesh Pradesh, historically known for its prominence in Sanskrit education and other leading institutions, has unfortunately faced educational disparities in comparison to other provinces since the 1950s. Surprisingly, none of the districts within Madhesh Province have achieved full literacy. As per the Nepali National Census 2021, the province's overall literacy rate stands at a mere 49.72%. Alarmingly, the educational gender gap is also evident, with 53.3% of women aged 15to 49 lacking access to education.

In Madhesh Province, the literacy rate for women stands at 38.88%, considerably lower than Nepal's overall rate of 57.4%. This stark gender disparity in literacy is evident. Despite significant efforts to enroll girls in schools, their daily attendance remains disappointingly low due to household responsibilities, caregiving duties, and barriers such as cultural norms and safety concerns. Factors like domestic tasks, agricultural labor, and instances of violence further prevent girls from attending school. Dropout rates are also concerning, with 3.6% nationally and 2.91% in Madhesh Province discontinuing their education. Gender disparities affect engagement and academic performance. Boys tend to attend private schools, while girls are more common in community schools. Female learning outcomes were poor based on the Ministry of Education's survey (NASA, 2019). Fewer females pursue technical subjects, which offer substantial career prospects.

Child marriage significantly affects girls' education, persisting in restricted areas of Nepal, often without registered complaints. Even though the authorities make an attempt to prevent child marriage, it is common practice in the areas of the Madesh province to send the kids across the border to India to carry out the wedding ceremonies. Significant funds are allocated yearly at all three government levels to combat illiteracy. Despite substantial financial support and well-intended education initiatives, the impact remains limited in Madhesh province due to entrenched patriarchal values hindering gender equality. Although progress has been made, Madesh Province still falls behind in comparison to other provinces.


So we must focus on Madhesh Pradesh to balance the pace of development in a sustainable way. We thus, focus our project on empowering girls in Janakpur, Dhanusha.


Find further publications here:



Map of Madhesh Pradesh located in Nepal
Map of Madhesh Pradesh located in Nepal

Image Source: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Madhesh_in_Nepal.svg



Focus on the girls of Musahar community

The indigenous Musahar community of the eastern terrain of Nepal are economically deprived and considered “untouchables”. The Musahar community finds itself on the periphery of society's complex web, with the stigma of being branded as “untouchables”. The upper castes of the Terai region, notably the Yadavs, Sahs, Brahmins, Chhetris, and Mandals, have perpetuated this exclusion (Karki, 2007). Their daily experiences are infused with discrimination, which has weaved into their lives for generations. About 93% of the Musahar population struggle with illiteracy, making education a faraway ambition for them (Bhatt & Shrestha, 2022). Their means of sustenance is frequently dependent on daily wage work in households or agricultural land.


The Musahar community struggles with the brutal irony of being unable to afford nutritious food or meet their most basic needs because they are bound to the grips of economic distress. Due to financial constraints, doors to healthcare facilities remain closed, denying them from receiving essential health checks. This struggle for survival correlates with a lack of knowledge about cleanliness and health. Although frequently contaminated, tube-well water serves as a lifeline for drinking and cleaning. A certain proportion of the population turns to disease-tainted resources like stagnant rivers or pond water.

Their lung health is put at risk by the practice of using wood or guitha, a mixture of cow dung and twigs, for cooking. It's an emblematic example of how survival strategies can inadvertently undermine well-being.

The unavoidable practice of open defecation causes concerns to both individual health and the environment, highlighting a general lack of infrastructure and access to suitable facilities. The scarcity of essential resources, including food and clothing, tragically results in children being unable to attend classes regularly. This deprivation not only affects their education but also their overall well-being.


References:

Bhatt, T. R., & Shrestha, R. B. (2022). Participatory Ethnography Research for MusaharGirls’ Education. Kathmandu: Tetra Tech International Development, NIDR, and JWASH. Karki, B. (2007). Economic Characteristics of the Musahar. Kathmandu: Tribhuvan University Central Library.



A closer look at the issues faced by the Musahar community


1. The Nutritional Struggles

In the community, there is limited knowledge about eating balanced meals. Immediate survival often takes priority over long-term health. This lack of awareness about proper diets and essential nutrients leads to malnutrition, causing health problems. Economic instability worsens their nutritional situation. Unpredictable daily wages make it hard to afford regular, healthy meals. Nutrient-rich foods are expensive, and irregular income makes it tough for many to buy nutritious items within their budgets. Infant mortality rates are also high due to poor nutrition and health.


Our proposed Intervention

To address this, providing nutrition education can be highly effective.

Teaching the community about affordable, nutrient-packed food choices can lead to positive dietary changes. Methods for maximizing the nutritional value of available resources and preparing balanced meals on a tight budget can empower individuals to make healthier choices.


Donations of nutritional food grains once a month or on a quarterly basis could also be considered.



Kids receive material donations of bags which turn to study desks and shoes
Kids receive material donations of bags which turn to study desks and shoes


2. Illeraticity and no educational opportunities

In the Dhanusha District, despite education's profound impact on societal development, a grim reality persists. Many children here remain illiterate and are denied educational opportunities. Education is vital for progress, yet the Musahar community faces a staggering 93% illiteracy rate. Lack of literacy among parents hampers children's educational aspirations. Financial hardships further compound the gap between aspirations and reality, with poverty obstructing educational advancement. Gender discrimination exacerbates this divide, as boys attend school

while girls are confined to household duties, their potential dimmed by societal perceptions.



Our proposed Intervention
  • Establishing sustainable businesses and skills training to uplift families

  • Empowering Girls through Education by providing scholarships.

  • Conduct fundraising drives to donate iPads to ensure more students access online classes

  • Volunteer as module makers or volunteer tutors at Pramadaya

  • Providing access to resources like uniforms, stationery and other essential school supplies

  • Exploring scholarship possibilities for the students to aid higher education

  • Awareness and advocacy, workshops for students



Education for all!
Education for all!


3. Impact of Casteism on Children's Development in the Musahar Community

The marginalized Musahar community grapples with the profound impact of casteism, which compounds existing challenges like poverty, limited opportunities, and malnutrition. This deeply ingrained discrimination hinders the development of Musahar children, impeding their potential amidst a backdrop of societal bias and exclusion. As 'untouchables' they face exclusion and stereotypes perpetuated by upper castes such as Yadavs, Sahs, Brahmins, Chhetris, and Mandals, further hampering their progress.


Proposed Intervention:

To counter the entrenched prejudices and provide the Musahar children a platform to realize their potential, online and in-person workshops are being proposed. These workshops will be meticulously crafted to bolster their self-esteem, making them aware of their innate worth and rights. By exposing them to new perspectives and supportive environments, these sessions aim to foster a renewed sense of self-confidence and ambition. Collaborating with educators, community leaders, and psychologists will ensure the content remains relevant, empowering, and therapeutic. These interventions can be instrumental in breaking the shackles of centuries-old biases, allowing Musahar children to envision and pave a brighter path for themselves and future generations.






You are interested in Pramadaya´s work and/or want to support them?

Do not hesitate to contact them directly: pramadaya.edu@gmail.com


Find and support funding their project on gofundme.com


And do not forget to follow them on Instagram: @pramadayanepal



Let´s tackle the issues of ' untouchables' in Nepal through social work!




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