Other Projects

The Jagrit Women's Cooperative

During a 2007 visit to the Bhotechaur Health Clinic by Bright Futures Foundation Board members and friends, a village woman named Uma Pradhan made an impassioned proposal for help in establishing a "women's empowerment center." With an initial infusion of $400 from Bright Futures Foundation and the enthusiasm of 32 women of the village, the group launched what is now the Jagrit Women's Cooperative.

The Women's Cooperative is concerned with education, planning for community well-being, income generation, and leadership development. As some of their first projects they purchased a goat and established a vegetable and flower garden to generate income, projects which in the ensuing years have expanded dramatically and with great success. Women from the group have been engaged to provide cleaning services for the Bhotechaur Health Clinic. The women who work at the Clinic do so in the name of the Women's Cooperative and a portion of their earnings is returned to the Women's Cooperative's lending pool established to offer micro-loans to its members. The cleaning service provides an earning opportunity for the women, helps educate them on the importance of proper sanitation, gives them a sense of personal pride in the Clinic, and it keeps the Clinic clean and inviting.

The dynamic manager of the Clinic, Devi Gurung, provides steady guidance and mentoring to the Women's Cooperative, and has trained them in sound financial protocol. This has been a "win-win" for all involved, and represents a wholesome approach to community well-being and grassroots organizational development. In addition to providing housekeeping services at the Clinic, the Women's Cooperative is developing many small projects to empower and engage its members, such as micro-loans to purchase goats, poultry farming, pickle and candy making, and off-season vegetable farming. A portion of the proceeds from these activities is placed into the micro-loan fund that the women manage for themselves. Now numbering around 350 members, the Women's Cooperative dreams of bringing 1,000 women into the fold.

2009 and 2010 leadership skills training workshops. The Women's Cooperative asked Bright Futures Foundation for help in providing leadership training for its members. Ann Betz, a friend of Bright Futures Foundation and a professional life coach and leadership trainer for "The Center for Above the Line Living," offered to teach a two-day leadership and empowerment workshop to a select group of Bhotechaur women in 2009, and a follow-up four-day workshop in 2010. Ann and Bright Futures Foundation worked closely together to develop a culturally appropriate curriculum.

The workshops were conducted at the Bhotechaur Health Clinic and focused on basic coaching skills such as effective listening, questioning, seeing the best in all persons, leadership skills such as working in groups, finding your own skills, etc. Ann brought a team of professional coaches with her, raised the funds to pay for all their own travel expenses, and all of the coaches donated their professional services as a way to contribute to Bright Futures Foundation and this exciting grassroots effort. Bright Futures Foundation provided translation of workshop materials and language interpreters for the workshops, a job happily assumed by the senior Bright Futures scholars from Galaxy School -- a very nice tie-in between our healthcare and education projects. The Bhotechaur Health Clinic provided space at the clinic for the workshop sessions. The workshop sessions were free of charge to the participating members of the Women's Cooperative.
Shram Rastriya Public School  Computer Lab

During early exploration of educational opportunities in Kathmandu, Catherine Wood, the founder of Bright Futures Foundation, discovered a gem. Mr. Narayan Nepal is the energetic and ambitious headmaster at the Shram Rastriya Public School in Kathmandu. His enthusiasm and hard work has earned his school recognition as the best public school in Nepal. With the same modest budget as other public schools, he manages to get more out of his teachers, parents, and students.

Catherine decided early on that it was a good idea to check in with Mr. Nepal during her visits and looked for ways to be supportive of his efforts. Mr. Nepal told Catherine that his dream was to have a computer lab for his students so that they had a hope of competing in the world with students coming out of private schools where computer training was part of the day-to-day curriculum. At the time he proposed the lab he did not actually have a room where he could put computers, but he pledged to build a room onto his school for the computer lab, and Bright Futures Foundation pledged to provide ten computers to get the program started.

While Bright Futures Foundation worked to gather funds in the U.S., Mr. Nepal organized his volunteers and school supporters to build a room for the computers. When the room was completed, Bright Futures Foundation provided 10 new computers and support for the teacher engaged to teach the computer class. Board members and friends witnessed the first computer class during their visit in 2007.

A great investment.
Now when one looks into the computer lab, students are focusing upon a single purpose as they aspire to understand and utilize these intensely absorbing machines. Morning and afternoon, there are three groups of 25 students each, which allows some students solo time and others to pair up and share computers. About 300 of the 400 older students, grades six to nine, choose to take the computer classes. The classes have become the most popular of the school's electives as students understand that knowledge of computer skills is their door to the modern world. The combined investments made by Mr. Nepal and Bright Futures Foundation translate into opportunities for a brighter future for the students - a win/win for all.

Bhotechaur Secondary School Textbook and Science Lab Project

During one visit by a delgation of Bright Futures Foundation Board and supporters to Bhotechaur, the principal of the public Secondary School nearby the Bhotechaur Health Clinic asked Bright Futures Foundation for assistance. The principal was interested in supplying the science lab and library of their newly constructed school. Although the Shree Saraswati Higher Secondary School had been recently completed, the government had not provided additional funding to fully equip the school. The modest request of $3,164 (U.S.) would provide textbooks, reference books, shelving, microscopes, and other science equipment for the eager students.

Bright Futures Board member Jill Gleysteen took a personal interest in this project and pulled in the support of Rogue Gateway Rotary Club, Grants Pass Rotary Club, Bright Futures Foundation, and generous individuals to raise the funds requested. The following year, Bright Futures Board members were privileged to see the books in place and the lab equipment being used by grateful students.

Fair Lady Day Care Center - Botswana

During a visit to rural Botswana in 2007, Grants Pass residents Cherryl Walker and Marty Hill were inspired by the work of a local woman to provide care and education for vulnerable young children and AIDS orphans. The Fair Lady Day Care and Preschool for Orphans and Vulnerable Children was established in 2004 as a nonprofit organization to integrate young paying students with students unable to pay due to the impact of HIV/AIDS on their families.

The population of Botswana is just under 2 million people. The median age is only 21 because 36% of those people are 14 years old or younger. A 2003 estimate for adults in Botswana diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is just under 40%, which gives rise to a very high number of "AIDS orphans" - children who have lost their parents to the disease. Many AIDS orphans are healthy and could lead normal lives if only they were supported by loving care, healthy diet, and education.

According to some estimates, more than half of the AIDS orphans in Botswana do not benefit from programs established to help them in spite of the efforts to help them. Many of these children are healthy and free of the AIDS virus, but as orphans they lack education, housing, healthcare, and proper nutrition.

In the rural village of Kasane, a local woman named June Mabuta developed a nonprofit preschool and day care center which integrates orphaned and vulnerable children with other local children, giving them a better chance to develop essential skills and access available assistance. This program helps put them on track to become productive members of society.

The project began in June's backyard. She had been active in helping others with AIDS after she herself was diagnosed with the disease. The preschool now serves 70-80 students, of which approximately 25% are orphans or vulnerable children. The school facilities were cramped and inadequate for the number of students in need. Cherryl joined the board of Bright Futures Foundation and brought this opportunity to us to become partners in the project. Bright Futures Foundation worked to help with the construction of a new facility on land that was provided by the Government of Botswana to the Fair Lady Day Care Center. In this project, Bright Futures Foundation assisted with the development of improved infrastructure and the construction of buildings for the new school, and particularly with the school's new kitchen.
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