Project for PeaceGAMBIER, Ohio (May 2, 2012)
Students from the hills surrounding the Nepalese village of Kharelthok walk for miles to reach their school, and when they arrive there is no roof on the building and no safe drinking water.
Palista Kharel '13, with the help of a $10,000 grant from Davis Projects for Peace, hopes to deliver some relief to her ancestral village this summer and, along the way, provide lessons in the fine arts. Kharel of Kathmandu received one of 103 grants to college students this year from the nonprofit organization.
"I was fortunate to be able to come abroad to study, and that has really influenced my mind to want to give back," Kharel said. "I've seen how undeveloped my country is, and there's always a desire to want to do something for the country."
Her project is called Shelter for Growth and has three aspects, including the purchase of several water filtration machines for use at the government-funded Shree Bhagwati Higher Secondary School, which has about 530 students. No water in the village is potable, and students often suffer from bouts of diarrhea and cholera as a result. In addition, the two-story school has no roof, which renders second-floor classrooms unusable. "They just could not finish it," she said. Most of the grant money will be used for the construction project.
Kharel is not content to solve physical problems at the school. She plans to conduct workshops in art, drama, music, and public speaking. Learning at the school is typically by rote, with little opportunity for creative learning, leadership training, or extracurricular activities. "This is kind of a big challenge," Kharel said. "I hope the students will be responsive, especially the girls. I think it's going to be a challenge for them. I'm hoping to make small changes."
Grant money covers transportation and living expenses as well as the purchase of supplies and labor. Kharel is also raising money with the help of the Kenyon community. Visit http://www.gofundme.com/k39qk to learn more.
Kharel is an economics major and hopes to pursue a career in development and nonprofit management. "This project helps me, I think, get an idea of what nonprofit management would be like," she said. "This has been very exciting. It's actually happening."
The Davis Projects for Peace organization based in Middlebury, Connecticut, is in its fifth year and intends to encourage and support college undergraduates who create their own ideas for building peace through grassroots projects.