Children are any country's most valuable resource, its true gifts.
As I enter the gates of Koseli, I see children patiently lined up in their playground, eagerly waiting to receive their treat of chocolate from a volunteer. Some children are seen giggling, some perhaps dreaming about football ,and some just waiting in pure contentment. I visit a classroom; a teacher is teaching them the months of the year. As the children see me peek into their class, they all rise in unison with their hands folded and greet me with a, “Good afternoon Ma’am”. I am stunned. I have never seen such synchronization even in a choir. Moreover, they all look so joyous and happy. I am surprised when the students greet me in the same manner in every classroom. As their sports period begins, all the children rush out of their classrooms into the playground. It is a delight to watch these children play.
I get a chance to have a conversation with the manager of the school, Neelam Sureka, who in spite of belonging to a wealthy family has chosen a lifestyle devoted to the welfare of these children. I learn that Koseli (Nepali word for ‘gift’) is solely operated for children living in unfavorable circumstances and unable to afford their basic education. I also get an insight into how the school administers the funds and other resources to enable the best education for these heartwarming children. The monthly expenditure includes rent, utilities, books, staff salary, food, water, health maintenance of the children, sports items, and other miscellaneous subjects. The school does not provide residence facilities to these children, as it would take away the bonds they have with their parents. I am also briefed about the sponsors and the fund raising activities conducted on a timely basis to manage their finances. Neelam says, “These children are so pure-hearted and hardworking, because of which I believe we have not faced any serious crisis yet. However, our team of teachers and volunteers are working very hard to ensure that Koseli children receive the basic necessities for a happy and normal childhood.
I also get a chance to interact with a few students during their lunch break and am astounded when I learn about their stories. Ikesh, who is seven-eight years old, says, “I was tired of the beatings from my alcoholic father, because of which my three older brothers and I chose to live and beg on the streets to earn our living before my sister enrolled us here.” The teacher escorting me informs that Koseli is still looking for the other brothers. Another child, Santosh, who has the most innocent eyes, says, “I was a rag picker before I was enrolled here. Koseli has changed my life.”I hear many more cruel and heartbreaking stories before I decide to head back.
My day spent at Koseli left me with mixed feelings of disgust, gratitude, love, sadness, and compassion, but most importantly, I left with the urge to do something about this ghastly situation that exists amongst many children in Nepal. It made me realize that these children come into this planet completely oblivious about the negativity and difficulties that exist in our world. Due to lack of education in parents, they forget, or are not able, to fulfill the most urgent need—access to education—the basic right of every child, the lack of which leaves children with no other option than to adapt to their existing environment in whatever way possible, and the vicious cycle continues.
Nepal, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, rightly boasts about its age-old traditions and customs and its natural beauty and friendly people. But, it also has one of the highest poverty rates, the effects of which are most critical in children. Nonetheless, there are many respectable foundations that are taking steps to support such underprivileged children in Nepal. Koseli is one such organization that not only gives access to basic education, but also believes in protecting children from the harsh backgrounds they originate from.
It is imperative to realize the importance of establishing more such organizations to encourage these helpless children. Taking charge of tomorrow by educating today’s generation is what Koseli is encouraging. Every little effort counts, an effort by either supporting such an organization, or by forming one individually.
Let’s join hands to give children the most precious gift of education for their brighter tomorrows!