Currently, we work in Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, dedicated to infrastructure and programs which develop the ability for girls and women to succeed through education, training or other opportunities. We like to make the distinction that our “output” are school buildings, classrooms, water supplies, toilets, handwashing stations, or resource centers. But our “outcomes” are better education for girls, higher graduation rates, lower drop-out rates, or higher matriculation, setting girls on a path for success in their lives.
Landlocked between India and China/Tibet, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is also a place where huge gender disparities exist. It is also a country where only 13% of students who started 10 years ago are finishing their 10th year of school and successfully completing their SLC (School Leaving Certificates) (Al Jazeera — http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/03/nepal-failed-development-150322052502920.html). This country (along with Afghanistan) might be the last of two countries in Asia to escape being “Least Developed Countries.”
Culturally in Nepal, women and girls are seen as burdens to their families. Rural women who do not give birth to sons can be rejected by their husbands and their communities, as they are seen as bad luck. Girls are routinely kept out of school in Nepal in order to help with household chores, like collecting water, and in fact seven out of every 10 girls in Nepal will drop out of school before she reaches grade 10. Poorer families often seek to marry their daughters off at a younger age in order to be rid of the responsibility of taking care of them. Most families do not see a benefit to educating their daughters.
Consider the following:
In Nepal, we work alongside our local partner The Small World (TSW) to provide access to education and other resources, as well as support our local partners’ capacity to educate rural communities on the benefits of educating their daughters. To date, we have supported six school buildings, two community water supplies, and three dormitories for girls pursuing a higher education in Nepal’s Solukhumbu (Everest) Region. In 2015 we’ve completed the third dormitory and initiated work to build seven Temporary Learning Centers after the earthquakes, while committing to building seven permanent school buildings to replace each of the Temporary Centers. As of early 2016 TSW and Eo7 have initiated work in the Solukhumbu on three permanent buildings as part of our 7plus7 project.
One school that was especially hard hit and is on our list of seven schools is the Ramailo Jyoti school. Here was our needs assessment from 2015. (PDF)
While Kenya’s capital of Nairobi is one of the largest and most prominent cities in Africa, the country’s rural population, which makes up 80 percent of the country’s total population, still struggles with many challenges related to gender disparities, education, and poverty. In fact, just 48 percent of Kenyan girls will achieve a secondary-level education, and outlawed practices, such as child marriages and female genital mutilation are still widely practiced in rural areas. Rural Kenyan women shoulder much of the country’s agricultural work and have few opportunities to access continued education once they are married.
Consider the following:
In Kenya, Edge of Seven works with the community of Naro Moru outside of Mt. Kenya to create access to basic resources, like water, as well as to provide access to educational and economic resources for students and women. In 2014, we completed the installation of two rainwater collection systems at the Kamburaini and Gitinga Primary Schools with our local partner ACCESS. These systems will be be used for drinking water and to irrigate gardens grown by the school staff in order to provide students with nutritious meals during the day. In 2015, we will work with ACCESS and the Naro Moru Women’s Group, a 50-member group, to construct a community resource center that will provide access to vocational and health training, as well as a central marketplace for entrepreneurs.
Read our Site Report from 2015 on Kenya (PDF).
Edge of Seven worked in Rwanda in 2016 in partnership with Africa Development Promise to build a Women’s Resource/Training Center for a women’s agricultural coop. The project was celebrated at its opening in July 2016 as the women took ownership (and the keys) and began their journey as a successful coop that had control of the future.
A building may not seem like a big deal, but beside operating as their office (required by law) and a training center, the building is their warehouse where they can store their produce. This is a very big deal, because they now have control over the storage of the vegetables while they negotiate price with the drivers who take the produce to market. Prior to this building, the women were at the mercy of the drivers who could assign the price that they would pay, knowing that the coop had no place to store the produce. This one simple building is a large point of leverage in how they get paid.
Edge of Seven is working in Uganda in 2017, again in partnership with Africa Development Promise to build a Women’s Resource/Training Center for a women’s agricultural coop. The project is underway for a women’s coop that focuses on growing mushrooms. Look for updates shortly.