Where our Heart Is!
For the last ten years Jason and Kylie-Maree Jarrett have been involved in helping the people of Nepal. We partner with local people to continue the work 24/7 to help the poorest of the poor in this amazing country. We have worked in a number of locations in Nepal but our current project focuses on a remote area in far western Nepal called Mugu. Below is a outline of the
There is a high altitude region of Nepal called Mugu which has remained without basic fundamental support services. The people in this region are in urgent need of dietary, medical, education and agricultural assistance. The Human Development Index ranks each of the 75 districts in Nepal. It ranks Kathmandu first and Mugu as the lowest. Mugu lies between elevations of 1,201 meters to 6,817 meters above sea level. The district spreads across an area of 3,103 sq km and has a population of 55,605. The only access to Mugu, other than by foot is by Plane or Helicopter. This makes supplies costly and services to the region costly to deliver. A country whose government is already lacking to provide for those in need in its capital definitely faces a huge challenge in a place such as Mugu. Once landed in Mugu, support and services need to overcome some of the highest mountain passes in the world to reach the people living there. This is one of the most remote regions in the world.
Jason and Kylie-Maree Jarrett have set up an Australian charity called Lighthouse Nepal to reach out to the people in Mugu, Nepal and facilitate the work there. We have been working with an in country partner for the last ten years and continue to support local Nepalese people to help themselves and their fellow countrymen to establish lasting change.
The major needs in this region are:
The people in Mugu are subsistence farmers, uneducated and practice ancient ways. The soil in Mugu is poor and does not bear much produce. Seventy five per cent of the area is located above 4500 m above sea level. Rice is unable to be grown here as the altitude is too high. The farmers fertilise the ground with manure and try to survive on whatever crops they can get to grow. The prime growing season is short, only 6 months per year. With the remaining 6 months consisting of monsoon and snow. The terrain is very mountainous and as such requires terraced farming. If families don’t grow enough food to store before the snow comes in winter they risk starvation. Toiling very hard the people yield only a fraction of what would be expected in other regions of Nepal. Every year the soil is washed away by monsoonal rains. It’s not like the rich plains of the Indian rice bowl, which has received the minerals from Mugu.
Only 4 % of all children in Mugu get the opportunity to go to school. To get to school they often walk huge distances along dangerous paths. When they get there, they often face teachers who lack motivation, as they are only poorly educated themselves. People who are educated simply do not wish to live in such a deprived area. They leave for the lowlands and Kathmandu. Most classes include children from the first to the eighth grade in a single room with one teacher. The children sit on the bare ground; there are no school books, paper or writing implements. Desks and chairs are unheard of, and all they can do is scratch letters and numbers with a stick into the mud in front of them. On average, a child in Mugu attends school for only eight months in its entire life. Only 1% of the young people in Mugu reach class 8 or higher. Girls in Mugu often do not get the opportunity to attend school at all. During the monsoon and winter it is almost impossible for children to even reach school due to the harsh environment that exists. Without education the children grow up without any hope of breaking the poverty cycle in their community. The Pina VDC (Village Development Council) estimate that 98% of the primary aged children in Pina do not have access to education.
3. Health Services
Many women in the villages have suffered the death of their infants. A 33-year-old Dalit woman reports losing two children prior to the two she has now, the first at the age of three months, and the second at six months. It is not difficult to understand why they died—her poor living condition provides her with insufficient nutrition, particularly during pregnancy. Rice and roti are all that she eats. Even then, she cannot eat her preference of locally produced rice, but only manages to buy cheaper Japanese rice distributed by the Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) at a subsidized price. Most of the women suffer from vomiting or breathing difficulties through the consumption of Japanese rice. The women can only harvest a little local rice, millet, wheat, or beans from their own land. It is particularly difficult to cultivate green vegetables and rice due to limited water resources; they are completely dependent on rain. Furthermore, this Dalit woman did not have a well-trained midwife who could help her during her labour at home. There are many cases where a woman’s first or second child died early on. Another woman said she lost five of her children, all of whom died of diarrhoea. They also observed that their children get sick with vomiting or diarrhoea when they try to breastfeed immediately after returning from field work.
The only hospital in the region is a 15-bed building located in the district town of Gamgadhi., which is only sporadically attended by a doctor. While it is meant to care for more than 45,000 people, there is no medicine or infrastructure to offer even basic emergency care, so that a minor accident can be a death sentence. There is simply no medical care available to people. Unless it is urgent, villagers find it difficult to go to the public health posts. It takes a couple of hours on foot to reach from the villages located near the headquarter zone, and some days to reach from the remote villages. Although the medicines and treatments are free, the physical distance is the biggest challenge. Furthermore, there has been no doctor posted there at present; the previous doctor left for personal reasons and no replacement doctor has yet been posted. The patients who require surgery are referred to the hospital in Nepalgunj, which the villagers have to fly to. Even the health posts which are scattered throughout the region have no doctor or nurse and offer on paracetamol. Simple injuries, diarrhoea colds and Flu can mean a death sentence here.
As mentioned in point 1 above the people in Mugu rely on the food they grow and the crops they grow are not abundant. To help survive winter some can access subsidised rice the World Food Program provides. The rice provided to the people of this area is not freely available to all and the quality is not good; it is second grade Japanese rice. We have been told that to receive the rice the people in Pina need to align themselves to a political party and in essence trade their vote or allegiance for this subsidy. When they receive the rice it is inferior quality Japanese rice that does not provide the sustenance they need and only increases the problems for the people of Mugu causing nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. Due to this inequality only approximately 400 out of the 3000 people in Pina receive this subsidised rice.
The entire region of Mugu is subject to the problems described above. It is our long term goal to reach out to this whole region but to begin with we will be focussing our development on one particular area of this region, named Pina. It is only a three hour walk from the airport and as such will make a good base from which to branch out into more remote areas of this region.
To combat the needs that we have identified within Pina we propose to establish a Lighthouse. A Lighthouse is a building where the community can access education, emergency food, professional medical aid and mid-wife’s and learn how best to farm in this harsh environment. We propose to buy 4 acres of land in Pina and build a community centre called a Lighthouse on this land. Part of the land will be used to create a training garden and research into the best crops and agricultural strategies for this particular region and then provide training to local people to help increase their harvest. A school will also be set up on this compound providing primary education at first to the local community with quality trained teachers and teaching resources.
1. Establish a Training Garden
We plan to purchase land and create a training garden. Soil tests will be undertaken on the purchased land and on two other areas in Pina. After soil analysis research will be taken to ascertain the best way to improve the soil and also the best crops to plant in this environment for optimum production and nutrition. These crops will be planted in the training garden and when successful the community will be invited to visit and learn how to improve their farming practices.
2. Establish a Primary School
Local people will be trained as Teachers and a small primary school will be built. The newly trained teachers will be given work experience in a sister school in Surkhet Nepal (a more developed village closer to the Indian boarder). These teachers will be paired with mentors from this school who will help them set up the school in Mugu. A community awareness campaign will be commenced to educate the community to the importance of education. Funds will be raised to create thirty scholarships Each scholarship will cover one child’s education for three years. Once the school is up and running teachers from Australia will be invited to visit the school and help with further training for the teachers. Three months of the years Mugu is engulfed in Monsoon and for another three months it snows. During this time movements are very difficult. School as we know it is basically impossible under these circumstances. That is why we will be also researching into the concept of ‘School of the Air’ for this region, to not only enable students to ‘attend’ school during these severe weather conditions but also to provide a conduit that remote communities could use for emergency medical advice and connection to the outside world.
3. Establish a Health Clinic
A local Mugu man has already been sponsored to attend and has finished a 16 month training course in Kathmandu to become a Health Assistant. He is currently in Kathmandu undertaking work experience and will then be returning to Mugu to run a Health Clinic that we are going to set up in Pina. From this clinic the local people will be able to receive basic medical help and medicine. It is within the scope of this project to train two other women as Health Assistants to help in this role. These women will also undertake extra training to qualify them as midwives. After their training they will be able to provide midwifery services to the people in the community. It is also the long term goal of this project that a mobile health clinic route be created and that bimonthly the Health Assistants will travel this set route providing aid. It is the goal of this project that medical professionals from Australia and overseas will travel to Mugu to assist with clinics and training of the medical staff.
4. Provide emergency subsidised rice for winter
Quality Nepalese rice is grown in the lower lands of Nepalgunj near the Indian boarder. Relationships will be made with the local farmers in this region for the purchase and supply of rice for emergency packages for families during winter. The people of Mugu are subsistence farmers so if they have not grown and stored enough food for winter when the snow comes there is no food and families face starvation. This is where it is a goal of this project to provide these families the opportunity to buy subsidised quality rice to enable them to survive the winter.
Funds will need to be raised to enable these goals to be achieved. Through Global Developments Group we are able to offer tax deductability for donations over $2. Please partner with us to provide a future for some forgotten people on the other side of the world and in return brighten your world.