Scholarships for Disabled Students
In Nepal, disabled children are often seen as cast-offs, as pariahs, or as punishment for “sins” of the family. They seldom have an opportunity to prove themselves as productive members of society. Only 30% of disabled people are educated; the rest are relegated to barren lives, unable to read, write, or earn a living.
From its inception, NYF has paid special attention to these children, whether they are blind or deaf, suffering from conditions such as cerebral palsy, or have other challenges. If they can enter regular school or college, we enroll them there. (Both J and K House have disabled children.) For yet other children, the best place is a special school program that gives them hope and independence.
We love giving disabled youngsters a chance to prove their intelligence and capability – and to proudly learn to support themselves.
We have been working with blind children particularly since NYF was founded in 1990, in the form of scholarships and training programs. Some of the students we started to support in grade school are now in college and even graduate school. No one else in Nepal supports disabled students in college as NYF does.
“I was nothing before I got support from NYF. NYF makes us capable to fight for our rights. They want to make us able to find ourselves jobs and be independent.”Ramchandra Gaihre, a blind student
who has his own radio show
The need for an education for blind and deaf children in particular is a critical one in Nepal. Because of dietary deficiencies and lack of medical care, Nepal has a rate of blindness many times higher than the U.S. There are tens of thousands of blind school-aged children in Nepal, yet only a small percentage attends school.
The same is true for youngsters who are deaf. The incidence of deafness is also very high, compared to developed countries. There are only a handful of schools that educate the deaf; the average cost to send a deaf child to boarding school is usually higher than the annual income of a Nepalese family. Thus, few deaf children have the opportunity to attend school.
Without an education, blind or deaf children are relegated to the most barren lives, unable to read or write and with no way to earn a living. Their prospects are greatly improved if they receive an education, which in turn enhances their chances of getting a job.
We cannot express it better than this observation by one of our blind college students: “If NYF/FNC had not supported me, I would have been a beggar wandering on the streets or I could have even died. Because of (this support)…I am satisfied with my life. Even if I couldn’t see the material world with my eyes, I can always see the world with the eyes of my education and knowledge…If I was not able to get this support, I would have been blind from both internally as well as externally.”
Overall we support dozens of blind, deaf, and physically disabled youngsters in school, the large majority of them in special boarding schools. The cost is only around $300 per child per year – not bad, we think, to give a child a future.
We can boast of many successes.
We supported the education of the only blind lawyer in Nepal. He won a case on appeal with an argument so compelling that it rated an editorial in Nepal’s largest newspaper. The editorial emphasized the potential for success of the disabled population.
We sponsored three blind children from the same family. Two received Masters degrees and are now teaching in private schools in Kathmandu, and one is in the U.S. on a prestigious full college scholarship.
Several of the blind children we have educated are now teaching in private and public schools.
One former J House boy who is profoundly deaf is working with computers for a company in Kathmandu.
One of the first blind college graduates in NYF’s program has an excellent job as a receptionist for the Helen Keller Foundation in Kathmandu. She has three blind siblings, and NYF has also supported their education.
“I Was Nothing Without the Nepal Youth Foundation.”
A blind yound man from a poor rural family describes how NYF transformed his life.