by Declan Murphy
Each New Year brings with it a great opportunity for change and I for one am hopeful that 2017 will be an improvement on the year that went before it! As unfortunate as it was unpleasant though, even the unexpected end to just-one’s more than decade-long work in Nepal came with various opportunities for positive change for many of those involved.
By far the best news I can share in this regard is that Bimal Gurung (the young man who visited Ireland for our fundraising trips in 2014 and 2015) managed to get a job for himself as a social worker with a Dutch-funded Nepali organisation called Education First Foundation. As one of the very first child-workers just-one supported – who subsequently joined our team of local staff – it was a very proud moment for him to have been selected for this promising new Kathmandu-based job from almost 150 applicants!
While my final just-one-related trip to Kathmandu from late October last was certainly a poignant experience, it was also very productive in terms of tying up various loose ends to ensure that as many as possible of the organisation’s beneficiaries continue with their education into the future and that all the remaining funds would be used in the very manner for which they’d been so kindly donated.
We were able to arrange for a significant portion of these funds to be paid in advance to a number of trusted schools and colleges so as to better ensure our efforts to date continue to fruition despite the organisation’s closure. A few of the most vulnerable children we had worked with will continue to be supported right through to their Leaving Certificates years down the line and the next 14 months alone will see an additional six or seven Class 12 students graduate with pre-degree certificates in their chosen subjects.
The remaining funds have since been distributed amongst other reputable NGOs whose work in Nepal is of a very similar nature to what just-one had been engaged in. The lion’s share was donated to another Irish-founded organisation, which I can highly recommend to anyone who might like to continue supporting the education of poor children in Nepal. First established by a Mayo woman almost 20 years ago, www.sathinepal.org has supported the education of thousands of children since and their grassroots approach sees families being given the support needed to ensure their children receive an education.
In return for the €20,000 donation they graciously received, SATHI Nepal have also very kindly offered to provide any educational support possible for any our past beneficiaries who might need it over the next few years, as well as helping to administer income generation support to another family we’d identified as in need of such assistance.
A further €5,000 was donated to a UK-funded organisation called Kidasha (www.kidasha.org) which provides valuable support and advocacy services to street and working children in Pokhara, and a final €2,500 was given to EFF to aid the education support efforts which Bimal is now assisting them with.
So, in addition to the various success stories we’ve helped create over the years, I’m delighted to be able to share these other on-going ripples of good here in what are, I suppose, the closing lines of just-one’s story… Our work may well have stopped, but it’s already abundantly clear that the legacy of what we’ve achieved to date will continue long into the future.
All in all, it’s been a truly fantastic journey – one which I feel incredibly fortunate to have been in a position to take and I’ll remain forever indebted to countless individuals throughout the amazing community that West Cork is (and further afield too, to be fair) who so kindly provided the endless support and encouragement that made it all possible.
I’ll close by extending a warm and open invitation to a final celebration of just-one’s work which the local committee have very kindly organised for Friday next (January 20) from 7pm in The Venue at O’Donovan’s Hotel, Clonakilty. It would be our absolute pleasure to welcome the numerous friends and supporters without whom just-one’s work would, quite simply, not have been possible, so please do come along on the night if you can at all. There’s a short film to be screened and – perhaps more importantly – I hear some folks have kindly offered to make some delicious food and bring it along too! Come on – you know you want to!)
Happy New Year
Pictured above: Declan, Bimal and School Principal with three of the children whose scholarships have been secured.