I have had the privilege of serving on the board of ETC for three years and continue to be amazed at what this organization can accomplish with extremely limited resources. Not only is their model of service delivery effective they have demonstrated their flexibility in responding to new needs resulting from natural disasters while maintaining true to their mission. One wishes we could be as effective and efficient with our efforts in the US given our vast resources.
I have been in the not-for-profit world for the better part of my fifty professional years. I was asked to be part of an organization--Educate the Children-- that has consistently made a difference in women and children's lives for over 25 years and has done so with fewer resources then the most efficient not-for-profits while delivering those services in another country.
I have come to learn in my short tenure on the board that ETC as an organization has created a model that has incorporated the inclusion of the women as leaders to achieve the ultimate goal of bring education to their children, addressing women's issues and providing them with the tools to create agricultural business to improve their own families nutrition while becoming an income base for their families.
With the support, education and guidance of dedicated local professionals the women are first provided basic literacy skills so important in promoting their children's education. Especially among the young women of Nepal. Then through a series of support groups they collectively begin to address women's issues as a whole rather then individuals which creates a stronger voice and base for change. With the assistance of mirco-loan funds they begin their businesses and with repayment of their miro-loans afford the expansion to other women.
With minimal support ETC also addresses the infrastructure needs of physical school spaces providing limited funds for refurbishing or building new schools with local craft persons and volunteers. Included in that process is the addition of sanitary facilities in the schools as well as in most of the homes of the women involved in the program. The availability of such sanitary facilities become extremely important for young women as they mature and begin to address critical health issues.
All of this is supported by less then a single FTE professional/support staff in the US and a dedicated group of educators and ag professionals in Nepal.
I am certain from my personal experience in the not-for-profit world that the most efficient organization in the US cannot begin to achieve what ETC has accomplished in Nepal over the past 25 years, I am glad to be associated with this organizations efforts.
I have been very familiar with the community-focussed work of ETC for over 15 years, and remain impressed with their work. Since then, I have continued to follow, support and recommend ETC to colleagues and friends. More recently, I felt honored to be invited to join the Advisory Council and have been delighted to serve. Following the series of earthquakes that devastated Nepal in 2015, ETC-Nepal was very responsive and engaged with the communities that it serves and continues to advocate for the empowerment of historically marginalized communities.
I am an anthropologist and linguist who has been working in Nepal and the wider Himalayan region for over 20 years. In the course of that time, I have come into contact with a great number of non-profit projects working in the region. ETC-Nepal is by far the most innovative, exciting and committed that I have had the pleasure of getting to know. Their engagement with the concerns of local communities and the collaborative framework that underpins their work is truly first rate. Out of appreciation for their work, I agreed to join their US-based Advisory Council, and have seem their work first hand in Dolakha district in central eastern Nepal where I have a long-standing and ongoing relationship with local communities.
Having lived and worked in Nepal, I've seen these projects first-hand many times over many years, and have talked to participants and observed community meetings, literacy classes, women's group meetings, etc. Based on that, as well as on external evaluations and on over twenty years of personal involvement with the organization, I can state with confidence that Educate the Children's work with individuals and communities in Nepal is very high quality and has a long-term impact. Of particular significance is the ability of this relatively small organization to adjust interventions to the needs and desires of the communities, working in real partnership to address local needs, thereby truly empowering participants and creating strong local ownership of the projects. This is something that is difficult (if not impossible) for larger organizations -- driven by restricted funding -- to manage, and yet is absolutely essential for success.
I also would point out that it is noteworthy that supporters of (and donors to) Educate the Children include a good number of US-based academics (professors) whose field is Nepal, as well as many former Nepal Peace Corps volunteers, and also former ETC staff members (myself included). These are folks who have an insider's viewpoint and know how to critique what's going on. The fact that they are themselves donors speaks volumes for the quality of the organization's work. I've been involved with Educate the Children since 1992, serving in a wide variety of capacities including volunteer, staff, executive director, and board member. This group does good work! It would be great to have you join us in the effort!
I first got involved with Educate the Children (ETC) as a volunteer in Nepal in 1992, and I've continued to be involved in a variety of capacities (volunteer, staff person, Executive Director, board member) ever since. ETC is an outstanding organization with high-quality, respectful and effective programs making a significant difference in a great many lives. I visited many ETC field sites and programs in Nepal during the period of 1992-2004. ETC truly works in partnership with communities, and is small enough to really cater the programs to local needs and develop local ownership rather than implementing a one-size-fits all model. It's really quite something to talk to people taking part in the programs, hear what a big difference it makes in their lives, and sense their ownership and expanding sense of agency, self-worth, and potential as they discover (and create!) new ways to positively shape their communities and benefit their families.
In my opinion, among the many indicators of ETC being a trustworthy, high-quality organization are the facts that: (1.) Many Nepali nationals and Nepal experts (experts and Professors in Anthropology, Linguistics, City Planning, International Development, International Agriculture, and Education, as well as former Peace Corps Volunteers) are supporters of the organization, and, (2.) Many former staff members (myself included) remain involved on a volunteer basis and become donors themselves. It's certainly a good sign when locals, experts, and people who have been "on the inside" as staff people are ALL wholehearted fans of an organization! And you can get involved, too!
ETC does remarkable work. When I visited their project site in Dolakha in 2010, I was so impressed by the huge difference they were making in the lives of the local people, along so many dimensions, that I decided to join the board. ETC's integrated community development approach involves teaching low-caste women to plant and cultivate kitchen gardens, upgrading local schools, forming women's groups, microcredit, scholarships, and more. The overall effect is to create new opportunities for better lives, and to prepare women and their children to take advantage of those opportunities. I would urge anyone looking for a way to help the world's poor to consider supporting ETC. It's a small organization, so even a little money makes a big difference in the good that ETC can do.
I have worked in Nepal as an educator for more than 20 years and have had experience with numerous development projects during that time, ETC is one of the few that delivers on its promise to make a sustainable difference in the lives of the people it works with. ETC's approach is not top down but rather the organization works with villagers, women especially, to identify and respond to their needs. ETC's staff are in the field actively working with farmers, teachers, and children. The result was noticeable when I walked through the project area with some of the staff. Villagers knew the staff, and frequently came up to us to make suggestions or talk about progress, and in turn the staff knew the villagers by name. It is rare for NGO staff to have such a constant and visible presence in the areas they work in.
When visiting an area where ETC works, it is easy to see the impact - green kitchen gardens dot the hillsides, homes have latrines, and the area reveals a sense of pride in its accomplishments. This is an organization more than deserving of support.