Quality education hasn’t always been easy to come by in the village of Ghyangfedi. However, for Prem Syangtan’s family, it was a priority – no matter the cost.
Ghyangfedi was one of the areas most affected by the 2015 earthquake that devastated Nepal. More than 80 members of the Ghyangfedi community were killed in the earthquake, and every single building, including all schools and health facilities were destroyed. It was following the earthquake that Adara became involved with the village through the delivery of various forms of life-saving aid.
The Ghyangfedi community face many challenges, particularly in terms of literacy. Literacy in the village sits at just 10.6%. Adara is currently working with the community to try and address these challenges through the establishment of a new, earthquake-resistant school.
It is through this work that we met Prem – a Ghyangfedi local who had been working hard to bring education to his community long before the earthquake, and long before Adara’s involvement.
Growing up, Prem’s local school was shut down and used to store grass. This meant attending a school nearby wasn’t possible. Instead, Prem’s mother invited three teachers to live in their house at no cost, if they agreed to teach Prem.
When he got a bit older, Prem started school in Ramathi, a two and a half hour walk away. Prem’s mother sold her gold to fund his education and his father put nearly all money he earnt from carpentry to Prem’s schooling. Prem stayed at Ramathi until grade ten, at which time he went to Amrit Science College in Kathmandu. His family were unable to fund this education, so Prem taught in his apartment in the evening to pay his way.
Prem was the first university graduate in Ghyangfedi.
Prem’s experience of quality education is largely based upon sacrifices made by himself and his family; sacrifices of time, money, and space. But he was one of the lucky ones. For many years, countless children in Ghyangfedi have not had this option.
After his graduation, Prem returned to Ghyangfedi and was shocked by the poor conditions of the local schools, and decided to do what he could to improve it.
This was not an easy thing to do. Prem had no classroom, no money and no teachers. He visited families in the village who had children in school to see if anyone could afford to provide payment to assist with the establishment of a new school. With the help of an NGO, he was granted 6,000 shillings (US$57) per month. This, with the additional money contributed by local villagers, was enough funding to start a class. To make the funds stretch further, Prem took on a teaching position as a volunteer. Prem was dedicated. He crafted materials himself; set squares, scales and rulers.
Life changed completely when the earthquake hit. Prem’s village and the life that he knew in Ghyangfedi had been destroyed. He returned to a home he did not recognise to try to provide whatever assistance he could. Prem partnered with a local NGO, going from village to village, delivering medicine and basic first aid. He knew the ways of land and the people like only a local could. He then joined forces with Adara as our community mobiliser, helping encourage the community to be involved and have a voice in Adara’s earthquake rebuilding projects.
Throughout his 30 years, Prem has been many things; a student, a teacher, a writer, a craftsman, a helper. But the defining characteristic of Prem is that he has always been driven to better his situation, and eventually help others do the same in turn.
Prem is now working with Adara to help deliver the promise of a school. We are excited to offer him a position as a teacher when the school opens.