NYF’s COVID-19 Timeline

NYF’s COVID-19 Timeline

A brief overview of COVID-19 in Nepal; and NYF’s strong responses to it.

This timeline is a developing piece. Last updated: 3/11/2022

On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Not too long after, on April 4th, 2020, Nepal confirmed its first locally-transmitted case of COVID-19. Since then, NYF has launched five emergency programs in response to the pandemic (Community Nutrition Kitchens, The Emergency Lifeline Halfway Home, Access to Education, Lito for Life, and our very own COVID Isolation Center).

Thanks to our dedicated team in Nepal and loving support from the wider NYF community, these programs have been an incredible success. Chiri Babu Maharjan, Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, has commended NYF “for its outstanding services since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal, and for the well-facilitated quarantine and COVID Isolation Center in partnership with Lalitpur.”

NYF’s swift and effective response to the deadly surge of the Delta variant in April 2021 has also been highlighted by BBC World News.

NYF remains incredibly grateful for our community of supporters, and for our amazing team in Nepal. Thank you all for being so patient, supportive, and generous during these challenging times. Whether you joined us recently or have been here with us since the beginning of this pandemic: Dhanyabad.

46

people sheltered via The Emergency Halfway Home

80

education centers opened via Access to Education

5,061+

kg of Lito flour distributed through Lito for Life

5,311

hot meals served through Community Nutrition Kitchens


Please scroll down to view NYF’s pandemic timeline.

2020
March 10, 2020

The World Health Organization declares coronavirus a pandemic

Travel bans are issued. NYF Founder Olga Murray sadly departs Kathmandu and returns home to Sausalito, California.
March 18, 2020

NYF’s programs are paused

  • Programs in Nepal are restricted to ensure the health and safety of our staff and the people in our care. K-12 schools in Nepal close, with colleges and universities to follow later in the week.
  • Olgapuri Children’s Village goes into lockdown, the vocational school training program is suspended, and the main Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH) closes temporarily.
  • A shelter-in-place order is announced for six Bay Area counties, and NYF U.S. staff in California begins to work remotely. Learn more about this update here.
March 23, 2020

Nepal issues a country-wide lockdown

  • Nepal’s strict, nation-wide lockdown goes into effect on March 24, 2020. Both China and India close their borders to Nepal, leaving the small land-locked country with skyrocketing prices for food, medicine, and other essentials.
  • Olgapuri Children’s Village continues its own very strict lockdown to ensure that all 77 of the children who live there are safe. The children find creative ways to learn and stay active with help from their live-in house parents.
  • Learn more about life during lockdown at Olgapuri here.

 

April 29, 2020

Global cases pass 3 million; 57 confirmed cases in Nepal

  • Nepal’s country-wide lockdown is extended to last another month.
  • NYF’s four trained counselors at Ankur Counseling Center continue to provide essential services over the internet and the telephone. Their workload is increasing significantly as they try to reach families suffering from increased domestic violence (a side-effect of lockdown conditions).
  • Click here to read more about their important work during these months.
June 7, 2020

NYF launches first COVID-19 program: Community Nutrition Kitchens

 

June 17, 2020

NYF launches second COVID program: an emergency shelter for women

 

June 28, 2020

Nepal’s hunger crisis is featured in the New York Times

  • “Nepal families face hunger, skip meals as pandemic hits remittances,” writes journalist Gopal Sharma. For the months since the lockdown began, individuals have not been able to work. Forced into tough decisions between rent and food, many are going hungry.
  • Read the article on Reuters here.
July 1, 2020

NYF launches third COVID program: Lito for Life

  • In response to the hunger crisis caused by the lockdown, NYF begins distributing packets of Lito — a type of ‘super flour’ made of roasted and ground corn, wheat, and soybeans — to keep urban families nourished.
  • Read more about NYF’s Lito for Life program.

 

July 20, 2020

Nepal’s country-wide lockdown is lifted

  • Though the government has relaxed its restrictions, Olgapuri remains strictly on lockdown. The children continue to stay at home, attending virtual classes every day.
  • NYF’s Vocational Education team starts a new mobile training program in order to serve students safely during COVID times. 135 students join in July, and NYF considers plans to continue the program even after COVID times.
July 22, 2020

NYF launches fourth COVID program: Access to Education

  • With ongoing public school closures, students are starting to fall behind. To combat this, NYF begins a trial run of a new village-based learning program, called Access to Education, in Dhading District. The pilot program receives enthusiastic support from students, teachers, and parents.
  • Read about the beginnings of NYF’s Access to Education program.

 

August 2, 2020

NYF’s New Life Center and Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes re-open

NYF resumes the operation of our Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH) and New Life Center program. With restrictions being lifted, NYF anticipates more and more hospitals will begin referring children with malnutrition and/or HIV to our facilities.

August 13, 2020

NYF pauses pop-up Community Nutrition Kitchens

  • By recommendation of The Social Welfare Council, NYF pauses the pop-up nutrition kitchen program. With people resuming work and receiving an income again, there is less urgency for free meals.
  • NYF will continue distributing Lito packages to families in need, and will be ready to resume the pop-up kitchen program if it is needed.
August 31, 2020

Emergency shelter opens to all as an isolation facility for patients with COVID-19.

  • In September, the MoU for the emergency women’s shelter (previously signed on June 17, 2020) is revised in order to become an isolation facility for patients infected with COVID-19.
  • NYF provides isolation services to 46 people in total: 24 women and 22 men
October 3, 2020

NYF opens 46 more Access to Educations centers

  • An additional 46 Access to Education Centers open in two rural municipalities in Dhading District.
  • With an average of 100 students per satellite center, NYF provides 5,000 K-10 students with educational opportunities they haven’t had in six months, and mobilizes 354 teachers who are already on the Nepalese government’s payroll.
  • Read more about these new Access to Education Centers.
December 26, 2020

All 80 of NYF’s Access to Education centers are open

  • Moving carefully to ensure COVID-19 stays out of these villages, NYF finishes the year with an additional 30 education centers in Gandaki Rural Municipality.
  • All 80 satellite centers continue to run for over 9,000 children who are still out of school.
December 31, 2020

India donates 1M doses of COVID vaccine to Nepal

India (and China to follow) donates 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal. The first 500,000 healthcare workers in Nepal have begun to be vaccinated.

2021
January 31, 2021

Schools in Nepal are starting to re-open

Most of the children at Olgapuri Children’s Village are now attending in-person classes at school. Home-schooling is provided for those children whose schools have not re-opened.

February 27, 2021

NYF staff in Nepal receive the vaccine

March 21, 2021

NYF launches SAAET Project

  • Inspired by the new Olgapuri greenhouses built during the lockdown, NYF launches SAAET – a new vocational education training program for women in rural Nepal.
  • Read more about the SAAET Project.

April 28, 2021

Second major wave of COVID hits Nepal and Kathmandu Valley enters another lockdown; NYF opens COVID isolation facilities

  • As cases surge, another government-mandated lockdown starts in Kathmandu to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Hospitals are already full. Vaccinated NYF staff members set up COVID isolation facilities.
  • Read more about NYF’s COVID isolation center.

 

May 2, 2021

India’s outbreak spreads quickly

  • Nepal records the highest daily increase in death since the beginning of the pandemic as the country faces a major surge in COVID cases. Only 1% of the landlocked country’s population is fully vaccinated.
  • Read more on Reuters here.
May 3, 2021

NYF opens a COVID Isolation Center at our Kathmandu Nutritional Rehabilitation Home

  • Nepal Youth Foundation opened our first COVID Isolation Center in our Kathmandu Nutritional Rehabilitation Home on Tuesday, May 4th, and it is already full, mostly with people under the age of 18.
  • Isolation centers provide safe care for individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 and must be isolated from their families, but who are not sick enough to be hospitalized.
  • Read more about NYF’s COVID isolation center.

 

May 5, 2021
May 7, 2021

NYF continues to distribute Lito, a “super flour,” through the second surge

  • NYF’s stock of already-prepared and packaged Lito continues to be distributed, along with other staples like rice and potatoes.
  • Team members make deliveries to orphanages, children’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, food banks, and other locations where individuals can access this critical resource.
May 23, 2021

NYF President Som Paneru interviews with BBC News TV

  • President Som Paneru appears on BBC World News  live from Kathmandu to describe the crisis– and the urgent needs in his country.
  • Watch the interview here
May 26, 2021

NYF adds four High-Dependency Units to COVID-19 Isolation Center

  • After a few weeks of operation, NYF’s COVID Isolation Center adds four “High-Dependency Units” or HDUs. Patients in need of hospital intervention will be moved to this area and held here, under stabilizing, high-level care and using special equipment, until NYF is certain a hospital ICU bed has been found for them.
  • See pictures of NYF’s High-Dependency Units.
June 16, 2021

Nepal’s lockdown extended as the second surge continues

August 31, 2021

Over 205 patients treated at NYF’s COVID Isolation Center

The 50-bed capacity isolation center has been able to provide life-saving services to over 205 patients who were unable to isolate themselves at home.

September 15, 2021

Nepal government eases some COVID-19 restrictions

  • Authorities in Nepal allow district officials to decide whether to reopen schools and other public spaces.
  • After almost a year and a half of being in lockdown, children at Olgapuri Children’s Village are looking forward going back to school soon.
September 16, 2021

NYF pauses COVID Isolation Center services

  • Following a recent government decision to re-open public spaces, NYF suspends isolation center services to fully resume our regular NRH programming. Since its opening, we’ve admitted and treated more than 240 COVID-positive patients at our facilities.
  • We are continuing to produce Lito, our homemade “super” flour, at the NRH and are still distributing them to communities in need via the Lito for Life program.
September 17, 2021

NYF resumes regular programming at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH)

December 15, 2021

Children 12+ at Olgapuri Children’s Village receive COVID-19 vaccinations

All children 12 and over at Olgapuri Children’s Village receive their second COVID-19 vaccination. NYF will arrange vaccinations for the younger children as soon as the shots are available for them in Nepal.

2022
January 3, 2022

NYF’s “Lito for Life” continues

  • Since 2020, our dedicated staff members have distributed over 6,644 kilograms (14,650 lbs) of lito—and the program is ongoing.
  • NYF expands the Lito for Life program to include distribution of pantry staples beyond lito alone. Where needed, items like rice, potatoes, eggs, and lentils are also being delivered.
January 15, 2022

As Omicron cases spike in Nepal, NYF initiates full COVID-19 protocols again

  • With only 40% of its population being vaccinated, Nepal is experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases. Public schools will remain closed until the end of January 2022.
  • NYF responds quickly by resuming COVID procedures again, including a full lockdown of Olgapuri Children’s Village and limited programming at the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH). NYF students return to remote-learning.
February 26, 2022

Third wave of COVID subsides in Nepal; government relaxes restrictions again

90% of eligible citizens above the age of 12 have received two full doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Booster shots are currently being administered.

March 8, 2022

NYF resumes regular programming and Olgapuri Children’s Village opens

  • After two long years, the children’s residence section of Olgapuri Children’s Village is fully open. All the kids have resumed in-person classes and are attending school daily.
  • Eight high school graduates at Olgapuri move into university dorms or private hostels.

World Youth Skills Day: Celebrating NYF Breakthroughs During COVID

World Youth Skills Day: Celebrating NYF Breakthroughs During COVID

World Youth Skills Day was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. Each July 15th since then marks an opportunity to “celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.”

COVID-19 has hit the world economy hard—but many are surprised to learn that globally, young people aged 15-24 have been impacted more severely than any other group when it comes to employment. World employment for all adults fell 3.7 percent in 2020. For young adults, the rate was 8.7 percent.

Young women have been hit even harder than young men.

Empowering young adults with strong paths to employment will be critical to the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true in Nepal, where extremely low pre-pandemic employment levels were already hindering economic growth and opportunity for young people.

Above, 17-year-old Aadila* practices new plumbing skills. She will age out of her children’s home in rural Nepal when she turns 18, and was concerned about how to make a living. When NYF partnered with her school to test a Satellite Vocational Program during COVID-19, Aadila eagerly signed up to learn this skilled trade. Her pathway into a successful adulthood is much clearer now. She is optimistic about building her future with a strong career built on much-needed skills.

The UN is urging countries to invest more in job-readiness education for young people. This applies not only to traditional academic education, but to vocational education, skills training, career counseling, and other paths towards independence and economic empowerment.

This World Youth Skills Day, NYF is highlighting our work in Vocational Education and Career Counseling—including high-impact programs like Olgapuri Vocational School, Vocational Diploma Scholarships, and our new SAAET (Sustainable Agricultural and Entrepreneur Training) program!

These young women in Jorpati District completed their welding certifications in 2020. Their entire course – a complete “satellite” version of the course given at Olgapuri Vocational School and taught by the same instructor – was held during lockdown! Most of them are now employed putting their new skills to work, proving day-by-day that women are every bit as capable as men – and every bit as deserving of solid careers.

Vocational Education and Career Counseling

Many young people in Nepal are unable to complete their grade school education. Whether due to personal aptitude, economic barriers, inaccessibility, trauma, or other factors, the academic path towards success is simply not possible.

The demand in Nepal is high for skilled work. Especially since the 2015 earthquake, many career opportunities exist for welders, electricians, carpenters, woodworkers, and plumbers. During normal years, tourism is also an industry offering strong careers in restaurants and hotels. These careers pay much more than the backbreaking daily labor many Nepalese young people find themselves taking—the labor many of them watched their parents perform for decades while never being able to build wealth and prosperity.

However, though the demand is high for these skills, Nepalese companies often struggle to find qualified, trained local young people—so many of these high-paying positions are filled by workers from India and other countries.

Meanwhile, young Nepalese men and women can often only find job prospects beyond their country’s borders and far from family, where language barriers and other factors make them vulnerable to exploitation. These overseas positions separate families for months on end and provide workers with barely enough money to get by.

Kaisha*, age 20, an aspiring welder, works on a practical assignment from her instructor. NYF’s job skills training courses involve hands-on instruction as well as focused theoretical work. Graduates are not only equipped to perform the labor behind the skills they are learning – they are taught the principles and critical thinking skills behind their chosen fields as well.

Even for more traditional Nepalese paths, like those in agriculture, valuable modern innovations exist that can raise crop yields and strengthen individual efficiency. But these innovations must be learned, and for many in Nepal’s rural farming communities, access to this information is limited.

In recent years, NYF has been working to expand access to career opportunities for Nepal’s young people.

Our Vocational Education and Career Counseling program provides young men and women with incredible opportunities. Those in our programs receive intensive skills training from expert instructors, entrepreneurship guidance, small business admin and accounting lessons, resume-building and job search support, start-up microgrants, and connections to other young adults on similar paths towards personal economic empowerment.

In early 2020, before COVID, a meeting hall fills with young men and some young women waiting to hear an NYF presentation about Olgapuri Vocational School classes. NYF social workers describe these events with great joy. Here, they say, they can see hope coming to life in faces throughout the crowd. Many of these young people have reached adulthood with little confidence about their futures, having seen few opportunities for advancement or change. The opportunity to learn skilled trades is just the boost many need to launch a successful future.

Olgapuri Vocational School

Olgapuri Vocational School (OVS), located on the Olgapuri campus in Kathmandu Valley, brings 20-student classes of men and women together for 3-month certification programs in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, welding, and more. Programs shift to match needs NYF has identified through contacts at major Nepalese companies. Specialized courses are also occasionally offered in fields like industrial tailoring or special agricultural topics including unique crops (like mushrooms or henna) and innovations (including greenhouse technology).

In normal years, around 90 percent of OVS graduates are employed in their chosen fields within six months.

During most of the pandemic, students have been unable to come to OVS due to travel and safety restrictions. Instead, we have begun taking OVS to rural communities as we launched our Satellite Olgapuri Vocational School program.

Instead of bringing individuals from multiple villages to Olgapuri Vocational School, we sent our trainers—fully equipped with the necessary tools and equipment—out to quarantine in individual villages, conducting the training there before moving to another village.

Soon after launching, municipality offices and schools began reaching out to request these satellite trainings. Requests arrived from all over: including a girl’s school, a children’s home, and an addiction recovery center for young adults.

Young men and women work side-by-side during their electrical training course. These trades benefit not only the individuals themselves – they benefit their communities as well. Trained electricians living in remote areas of Nepal means better access to reliable and safe electricity. This in turn allows for a higher standard of living and greater innovation throughout the community.

In the final half of 2020, we were able to conduct Satellite Vocational Training courses in nine villages.

A total of 255 students received a full course of training in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, or welding by the end of 2020. Of these, 77 were young women—a higher rate of interest than we usually see. NYF believes this is because the satellite version allowed students to study their new skills without leaving their home villages. This insight is informing the development of new vocational education programming especially for young women.

Empowering Freed Kamlaris

Young Tharu women associated with our Empowering Freed Kamlaris program are still eligible for special skills-based trainings held in their native Terai region of Nepal. Most of these women join our “Tea and Snacks Shop” training program, which teaches the principles of small business ownership and provides start-up funds for each woman to open her own roadside business. Graduates of this program have used their proceeds to buy livestock, to purchase farmland outright, or to educate their younger siblings. Some have even hired their parents or husbands to run secondary locations! In 2020, even through the pandemic, 334 Freed Kamlaris received skills-based training.

Vocational Diplomas

Finally, young people may receive NYF scholarships for earning Vocational Diplomas at long-term technical institutions. Careers may include nursing, engineering, agriculture, the culinary arts, and hotel management. During our 2019-2020 year, 54 students received vocational scholarships, with 9 individuals graduating.

SAAET (Sustainable Agricultural and Entrepreneur Training)

Saaet means “an auspicious moment of starting a new journey”.

As part of NYF’s commitment to helping young Nepalese women build personal economic prosperity and to provide an alternative to child marriage in rural communities, we introduced a new vocational education project in 2021. Called the SAAET Project, or Sustainable Agricultural and Entrepreneurship Training, this satellite-type vocational education program teaches young women how to build and maintain greenhouses, use best organic farming practices within them, and to run a greenhouse-based business.

The program launched on March 22nd with 21 young women (all of them Freed Kamlaris) in the first round. These women learned modern, sustainable methods for producing increased vegetable yields with smaller spaces and reduced labor—and many of them have already built their own greenhouses and planted their first crops. They are looking forward to sharing what they’ve learned with their friends and neighbors!

Tanushri*, age 24, grins in front of the economical greenhouse model she and her fellow students are building as part of their SAAET training. The structures are simply designed using materials like bamboo and sturdy tarps – but the technology and theory behind them will make an incredible difference in each student’s ability to grow nutritious food year-round.

Visit https://www.nepalyouthfoundation.org/saaet-project-intro/ for more information!

Frontline Warrior: NYF’s Lila Tharu Celebrates Freedom Day by Saving Lives

Frontline Warrior: NYF’s Lila Tharu Celebrates Freedom Day by Saving Lives

Frontline warrior healthcare workers across the world have spent nearly 18 months battling COVID-19 to defend their communities. These heroes have saved countless lives during the pandemic.

For one of these warriors, Lila Tharu, age 26 (below), her status as a nurse and midwife is a source of particular satisfaction. NYF is proud to count Lila among our many accomplished alumni now to heal their communities during this crisis.

Frontline warrior Lila Tharu is proving her worth to her community during COVID-19.

Kamlari Freedom Day

Sunday, June 27th, 2021 marks the 8th anniversary of the legal abolition of the kamlari practice in Nepal – otherwise known as Kamlari Freedom Day.

Kamlari was a form of indentured servitude which exploited the daughters of the Tharu ethnic minority group in Western Nepal’s Terai region. After generations of predatory lending by more powerful “land-owning” groups, the practice emerged as the only way for families to pay back exorbitant generational debts.

At every Tharu New Year, parents sold their daughters – some as young as six years old – to work long hours in the homes of strangers. In return, families would receive an average of only $30 for an entire year of their child’s labor. Thousands of Tharu girls spent their entire childhoods in kitchen slavery. Some never returned home.

To people in the Western Terai, the kamlari practice had come to seem inevitable – a baked-in cultural truth that very few people dared to question.

Lila Tharu – Kamlari Life, Rescue & Education

Lila was born in Thakurbaba Municipality in Bardiya District and she was sent away to work as a kamlari in 2005, when she was 12. Her two older sisters had also worked as kamlaris.

After two years working in her master’s house and being denied an education, Lila was identified and rescued by Nepal Youth Foundation in 2007. Through the Indentured Daughters program, her family was provided with economic support to offset Lila’s lost “wage” as well as the materials needed to allow Lila to return to school: a kerosene lamp to study by, a school uniform, notebooks, and more.

Lila was a determined student who dreamed of becoming a midwife. Soon after her rescue, she was enrolled in grade 7 at a local school. She completed high school (10th grade at the time in Nepal) in 2012, passing her country’s notorious SLC “Iron Gate” exam and earning a place in the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife program at Sushma Koirala Memorial Institute in Nepalgunj. NYF provided her with a college scholarship throughout her studies.

Frontline warrior Lila Tharu

NYF continued to provide career support as Lila began her nursing career in a private hospital in Banke District. And in November 2016, she finally landed her dream job as an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife at Bheri Hospital in Nepalgunj, the largest government hospital in the region. She has remained there ever since, continuing her education by taking Nursing Care and Skilled Birth Attendant trainings to further enhance her skills.

The salary she brings home each month is far beyond what members of the Tharu community thought possible for one of their daughters only 10 to 20 years ago. Not only is Lila serving a critical role in her community’s health system—she is proving the incredible potential within a Tharu girl.

Lila Tharu – Frontline Warrior

At the beginning of 2020, Lila was living at home with her mother while continuing her career. Lila’s father had passed away years before, and her two sisters were now married.

Things changed in Lila’s work life when the pandemic hit. She was added to a special COVID treatment team early on and assigned temporarily to nearby Sushil Koirala Cancer Hospital in Khajura. This hospital had been set aside especially for COVID patients, and Lila worked there for several weeks during the pandemic’s first wave. She also served COVID patients in mandated isolation in a Kalpatri hotel during this time.

Now, during Nepal’s intense second COVID wave, Lila’s hospital in Nepalgunj is at the epicenter of the crisis. Many young people from Western Nepal cross the border into India to find work, and when the virus surged in India earlier this year, they fled back north to escape the pandemic – not realizing they were bringing the virus home with them.

Bheri Hospital now has four dedicated COVID wards, and Lila (below, in white at far right), who has valuable COVID Care experience from 2020, is a frontline warrior in one of them.

Frontline warriors battle COVID in Nepal's hospital system.

She is hard at work monitoring her patients’ vital signs, measuring oxygen levels, and providing intravenous therapy and medicine, as well as other critical care. COVID death rates for hospitalized patients are frighteningly high everywhere, and Lila’s ward is no different. During this second surge, they have lost an average of 3-4 patients per day. But Lila tries to remember the lives she has helped to save as well. Many of her surviving patients would not be able to return home if not for her.

In spite of rigorous safety protocols, Lila herself caught COVID in the spring, like many other frontline warriors across the world. Fortunately, her symptoms were mild, and after a short isolation, she returned courageously to the COVID ward to continue her lifesaving work.

She will continue this work until her expertise is no longer required in the COVID ward. She (below, preparing medicines for a patient) is proud to be doing this important work in her community – and grateful to the NYF Community for making her journey possible.

Frontline warrior Lila Tharu was rescued from kitchen slavery at age 14. Now at age 22, she is a nurse in her community saving lives from COVID-19.

Just One Story of Thousands

Lila says she was afraid when the virus first arrived in Nepal – but she is extremely dedicated to the community she serves. Her courage is nothing new to NYF.

Like the other Freed Kamlari women, Lila had already experienced intense hardship and taken many daring steps before COVID arrived. Together, while most of them were still children, these girls dared to challenge their communities, abandon their masters, question their culture, and declare their own worth. Many of them returned home to families who resented them for taking such bold steps. Others were injured while marching for kamlari freedom, as police objected to the girls’ protests against the government.

Lila is one of thousands of Freed Kamlari who refused to stop simply at being rescued from an exploitative practice.

She and so many others have claimed their personal power by seizing educational opportunities and chasing their dreams – and working to lift their sisters and daughters in the process. Some are becoming lawyers, determined to defend human rights. Others have become small business owners or specialized farmers, gradually building personal and generational wealth in ways their parents could not.

And some, like Lila Tharu, dreamed of helping others in the healthcare field. They’ve grown up to be frontline warriors in a global crisis they never imagined.

Happy Kamlari Freedom Day, Lila!

Happy Freedom Day to ALL of the Freed Kamlaris
and to the young girls and women who will never be bonded away!

And Happy Freedom Day to the NYF Community – to everyone who helped support this incredible program. Lila’s story, and so many others like it, are proof of the amazing way your #LoveWorks.

To help celebrate this joyous occasion and support the education of brave young women like Lila, please make a thoughtful gift for NYF Scholarships or our Vocational Education program on our donation page.

Nepal’s Second COVID Surge Continues – New Updates from Som

Nepal’s Second COVID Surge Continues – New Updates from Som

Nepal’s second surge of COVID-19 seems to have calmed, but the danger has not passed. This week, NYF president Som Paneru has given the US team an update from his vantage point on the ground in Nepal. (Below, Nutritional Rehabilitation Center staff members arrange precious oxygen cylinders for use in the COVID Isolation Center.)

For details about the impact this most recent crisis has had on our work providing Health, Shelter, Freedom, and Education, please click here. Thanks to the dedicated and compassionate team in Nepal, the children in NYF’s care remain safe and healthy!

COVID in Nepal – the Second Surge

Som’s description of Nepal’s lockdown is intense: essential food outlets are only open for a couple of hours each morning, with the remaining businesses completely closed down to slow the spread. Transportation, both public and private, is halted. Only vehicles for essential services are allowed in the street.

Domestic flights are completely grounded, and only four airlines are allowed to operate international flights. Even these occur only once a week. The passengers are very carefully selected and are either Nepalese citizens returning home or aid workers. Chartered flights arrive periodically, bringing relief materials.

During Nepal's second surge, NYF president Som Paneru (second from right) prepares the NRH team for special training on caring for high-dependency COVID patients.

The infection rate is beginning to drop, as is the reported death toll. Som reports that the hospitals are less overwhelmed, and for the moment, there seem to be enough hospital beds for the current patients. (Above, Som and the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home team meet outside to receive up-to-date information.)

However, different from last year, the virus has now reached into very rural areas. Here, people do not have access to COVID tests, and they often do not go to hospitals, making accurate tracking and reporting impossible. Some hospitals in Western Nepal, the epicenter of the current surge, report that they are seeing fewer people arrive – but those who do are arriving from very rural areas, and in critical condition.

These new developments will impact NYF’s planning and programming as we proceed into the coming months.

And of course, the halting of economic activities during this extended lockdown is once again worsening human suffering. Families are struggling to make ends meet, hunger is on the rise, and individuals with chronic medical conditions are unable to access care.

But the vaccine situation in Nepal is dire. At the beginning of 2021, vaccine donations arrived from China and India – but future vaccines promised by India never arrived, leaving many people throughout Nepal only partially vaccinated with the first dose of AstraZeneca. Another one million doses have arrived from China, with more donations pending from the UK, Denmark, and the United States, but distribution will be challenging in the midst of this surge. Rural populations will be especially difficult to reach. (When vaccines first arrived in Nepal, front line workers were prioritized, so NYF staff members working with COVID patients have received their vaccines.)

Time to Prepare

Public health officials are predicting a third wave in the fall, with children likely to be impacted more than in the past two surges. The Nepalese government has already warned hospitals, urging them to prepare pediatric ICUs. Ideally, hospitals will prepare at least 25% of their existing ICU beds to suit children.

NYF is taking this warning seriously, planning ahead using lessons learned during this second surge.

Especially in Nepal’s urban areas, family homes are often quite cramped, with multiple family members sharing a single bed, and multiple family branches sharing a single residence. In late April, COVID-19 had already reached Nepal from India before the country locked down. This trapped many families in very close quarters with at least one person who was already infected with the virus – and with not enough room for social distancing.

Our COVID Isolation Center (split between our flagship Nutritional Rehabilitation Home, at left in the photo above, and the New Life Center, right) played an important role in slowing the spread in Lalitpur, just outside Kathmandu. But we hope to be prepared to do more during the predicted third surge. Som is working in close contact with local health officials to identify ways we can help lower the risks to families in lockdown and save as many lives as possible.

Emergency Nutritional Care

In response to the devastating economic effects of the virus and the extended lockdowns, NYF has expanded our emergency food distribution efforts. We are continuing to run Lito for Life, and we have added food staples like potatoes and other vegetables to our deliveries.

COVID Isolation Center

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7EVn1N3esw

As COVID-19 tore through Nepal’s cities in April and May, hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. Individuals testing positive for the virus were encouraged to isolate at home unless their symptoms became life-threatening.

This approach posed two problems: first, those living in cramped quarters were unable to truly isolate away from their families, and two, many individuals with COVID-19 are unaware of what “life-threatening” symptoms look like. As a result, many people in self-isolation arrived at the hospital too late, and many others unwittingly spread the virus to their loved ones.

Our COVID Isolation Center (in the empty Kathmandu Nutritional Rehabilitation Home and New Life Center) provides a 50-bed space for individuals with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic, or are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. If symptoms become dangerous, our trained nurses recognize the warning signs right away, and NYF provides a free ambulance ride to the hospital.

In a video made in May, Sajani Amatya shares NYF’s gratitude for all those who helped make this swift response possible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvQ9SiR3SoU

A four-bed High Dependency Unit (HDU) was added as well, providing semi-ICU care to any patients needing to be transferred to a hospital, but for whom a hospital bed had not yet been found. This has been a great life saving addition. Since opening at the end of May, nine patients have received HDU care before being transferred to the hospital.

Most of our patients are under age 18. So far, we have admitted a total of 151 patients, and 115 of them have been discharged after recovering safely. Nineteen individuals have been referred to the hospital, and 17 patients are currently at the center.

Discharged patients have been sharing glowing reviews on social media about the quality of care they received at the COVID Isolation Center. We are working to subtitle some of their video reviews in English to share with our thoughtful, loving donors.

The COVID Isolation Center has also received praise from the National Human Rights Commission, the Women’s Right Commission, the District Administration Office of Lalitpur, and even the WHO.

Unrestricted Support

In times like these, even if COVID has provided the inspiration for your gift, the most effective way to give is to provide unrestricted funding. Unrestricted funding allows us to aim each dollar with the maximum flexibility, allowing the needs on the ground to drive our responses as the situation evolves. Unrestricted funding also allows us to continue keeping our promises to the children in our care by ensuring that each of our programs is fully funded and can continue as best as possible throughout the pandemic – and beyond.

To make your generous gift, please click here. Thank you so much for ensuring your #LoveWorks for the children of Nepal!

Keeping our Promises – An Overview of NYF Programming During a COVID Surge

Keeping our Promises – An Overview of NYF Programming During a COVID Surge

Keeping our promises to the children already in our care is of the utmost importance to NYF in ordinary times. But in these extraordinary times, we’re proving our commitment in ways that build trust, enhance lives, and ensure that the NYF community’s #LoveWorks.

As a follow up to Som’s interviews with the BBC on May 6th and May 24th, our US Team spoke to Som, NYF’s president, on Monday evening (May 24th, 2021), to get a broad update on our programs during Nepal’s unprecedented second COVID wave.

Here’s what we learned:

Regular Programs

When the pandemic first hit in March 2020, NYF pivoted quickly – but those first few months in lockdown weren’t easy! (Click here for our COVID timeline.) Like people throughout the world, our staff members and the children we serve had to think creatively to find necessary equipment, develop safety systems, and share information.

Fortunately, after a year of COVID safety measures, this new lockdown in Nepal is easier for our regular programs to navigate. Som says it was very simple for staff members to “switch gears” back into lockdown-mode.

Olgapuri Children’s Village – After a brief safe window of returning to school outside of Olgapuri campus, the village is now in strict lockdown again. Olgapuri (below) continues to be one of the safest places in Nepal during the pandemic. You may read more about Olgapuri in lockdown by clicking here.

Keeping our promises to the 80 Olgapuri children in spring 2021.

Ankur Counseling Center – Our counselors at Ankur are continuing to work hard from their home offices, providing regular mental health care to the children in our care, staff members, and others within the community. They have been providing extra support during the second wave to individuals in our COVID Isolation Center as well. (Click here for more Ankur stories!)

Olgapuri Vocational School – Most of the courses planned for this time period have had to be postponed for the safety of staff and students, but one vocational course is actually ongoing!

This group of 20 Freed Kamlaris at Olgapuri Vocational School was nearly through their mandatory quarantine period when the government shutdown began. Since Olgapuri is a completely locked down campus, the young women and NYF staff all agreed that they were safer here than they would be if they travelled home to the Western Terai. Their vocational training program is proceeding almost as normal.

Keeping our promises to the young people who rely on NYF for vocational training leading to economic empowerment.

A second program was recently completed in a very remote, isolated village in northwest Kathmandu Valley. The program was well underway when this second surge began, and because the trainer was already in the village with all of the necessary equipment, and because the village is so remote that locking it down was simple, students and NYF staff agreed that this, too, was a safe option for continuing as usual. The new program graduates will be able to put their vocational skills to work once the economy reopens.

As the situation evolves in Nepal, programs like these will be decided on a case-by-case basis, with special care taken to protect staff members and students alike.

Scholarships & Kinship Care – NYF’s team has stayed in regular touch with scholarship recipients and families receiving Kinship Care stipends to ensure they are safe, well-fed, and continuing their education as best they can.

Schools around Kathmandu Valley are now able to provide online learning. The main disruption being experienced by our students is exam scheduling, which has been out of sync for over a year. Final exams across the country will be postponed until it is safe for groups to gather again. This may extend the length of some students’ studies.

Nutrition – NYF’s regular Nutrition staff – those who run the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home in Kathmandu – are currently working completely on COVID response, including Lito for Life and the COVID Isolation Center.

At NYF, we are so grateful for the hard work and dedication that allows these critical programs to continue. Thank you for helping us keep our promises to the children already in our care!

Emergency Programs

Lito for Life – Lito for Life is ongoing. (Click here to learn about this program.) Due to the current surge, no “super flour” is currently being produced, but our stock of already-prepared and packaged Lito is still being distributed, along with other staples like rice and potatoes. To ensure safety, our team members are not making deliveries door-to-door, but we are providing packages to orphanages, children’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, food banks, and other locations where individuals can access this critical resource.

Keeping our promises to nourish the broader Nepalese community.

COVID Isolation Center – Our Kathmandu Valley Nutritional Rehabilitation Home and the adjacent New Life Center are being used as a COVID Isolation Center for individuals who have tested positive for the virus and are asymptomatic or experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. The resource is designed to allow individuals to isolate away from their families, to slow the spread. Our patients are coming mainly from orphanages, college dormitories and hostels, boarding schools, and housing shared by multiple generations and families within a tight space.

Most of our patients are children and youth, but we serve adults as well. Our youngest patient so far was an 8-year-old girl from a local orphanage, who was isolating with us to protect her 50 friends at home. Our oldest patient so far was a 73-year-old man. He has recovered and returned home to his family.

Many individuals who are isolating at home do not recognize when their symptoms have become too dangerous – and by the time they reach the hospital, it is too late to save them. At our COVID Isolation Center, patients are under the observation of trained medical professionals who know when an individual needs care in a hospital setting. The ambulance ride to the hospital is provided free of charge.

NYF staff members stock the new high-dependency unit with important equipment.

This week, our staff members received special training from a local doctor and his team to ensure that these patients stand the best chance possible as they wait for an available hospital bed to be located. Four beds at the COVID Isolation Center are being set aside for a “High-Dependency Unit” or HDU (above). Patients in need of hospital intervention will be moved to this area and held here, under stabilizing, high-level care and using special equipment, until NYF is certain a hospital ICU bed has been found for them.

Saving lives COVID-19 by training our staff in the skills they need.

We are looking forward to sharing more about this work soon!

What Comes Next?

The situation in Nepal is evolving quickly, and NYF is working to develop solutions as part of the broader Nepalese community. Som is working with government health officials in Kathmandu Valley on ways to support families who are isolating at home. We hope to share more about this soon!

Here is some good news: Som tells us that, thanks to awareness of the oxygen shortage in India, hospitals in Nepal have received a generous outpouring of oxygen resources from around the world. More vaccines are on the way. And aid is arriving from multiple governments, as well as from the UN.

Experts are warning that a third COVID wave may be coming for Nepal in October and November – just in time for the beloved family-centered festivals of Dashain and Tihar. With younger people being impacted by this second wave (most COVID deaths in Nepal are between ages 20 and 50), the concern is that children may be next. NYF’s global team is preparing for this, continuing to develop plans and expertise to meet this moment (and the next) with strength and agility. We are so proud of our team members who are continuing to learn new skills as this crisis continues to unfold.

And we are also proud of our team members in Nepal – house parents, nurses, tutors, instructors, cooks, drivers, counselors, administrators, and more – who are working so hard to continue keeping our promises to the children in our care.

Donations

We at NYF are so grateful for every single thoughtful gift we receive, whether for a specific program, a sponsored student, a piece of equipment, or “our greatest need.” Dhanyabad to everyone who has given! Your generosity is a true inspiration.

In times like these, even if COVID has provided the inspiration for your gift, the most effective way to give is to provide unrestricted funding. Unrestricted funding allows us to aim each dollar with the maximum flexibility, allowing the needs on the ground to drive our responses as the situation evolves. Unrestricted funding also allows us to continue keeping our promises to the children in our care by ensuring that each of our programs is fully funded and can continue as best as possible throughout the pandemic – and beyond.

To make your generous gift, please click here. Thank you so much for ensuring your #LoveWorks for the children of Nepal!

Nepal’s COVID “Humanitarian Crisis is Rising Very Fast” – Som Speaks to the BBC

Nepal’s COVID “Humanitarian Crisis is Rising Very Fast” – Som Speaks to the BBC

Nepal’s COVID humanitarian crisis is accelerating, with cases surging faster than anywhere in the world. The country has been in lockdown for a month now, and with many individuals passing away at home, the true death toll is difficult to confirm. Comparing the number of confirmed COVID deaths to the number of funeral services highlights this grim disparity.

BBC World News interviews NYF President Som Paneru. Nepal's COVID Humanitarian Crisis is Rising Very Fast.

Today, on May 24th, 2021, NYF’s President Som Paneru appeared on BBC World News (link below) to describe the situation – and the urgent needs in his country.

Many thanks to BBC World News for helping to share this message. Other news sources, like The Global Herald, are already sharing the story.

NYF is currently using our Kathmandu Nutritional Rehabilitation Home as a COVID Isolation Center for children and adults with COVID-19 who are not sick enough for the hospital. This resource (pictured below), which includes mental health care and dietician-designed meals, allows them to isolate away from their families, helping to protect their loved ones from the virus.

To see what else NYF has been doing in response to Nepal’s COVID humanitarian crisis, click here to view our ongoing timeline.

Please donate now to support our efforts to continue providing Health, Freedom, Shelter, and Education to Nepal’s children during this unprecedented crisis.

You may watch Som’s full interview with BBC World News on the BBC YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD8brK3PCbE

COVID Isolation Centers Provide a Lifeline as Nepal Battles a Surge

COVID Isolation Centers Provide a Lifeline as Nepal Battles a Surge

COVID isolation centers are becoming a life-saving necessity for families in Nepal as the pandemic surges through South Asia. Kathmandu is in lockdown once again, with schools closed and hospitals filled beyond capacity.

Nepal Youth Foundation opened our first COVID Isolation Center in our Kathmandu Nutritional Rehabilitation Home on Tuesday, May 4th, and it is already full, mostly with people under the age of 18. Isolation centers provide safe care for individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 and must be isolated from their families, but who are not sick enough to be hospitalized. Our vaccinated staff members are doing all they can to provide high-quality care to these children, working to ensure their safe recovery.

To help us respond to this growing crisis, please make a donation now.

Som Speaks to BBC News

Som Paneru BBC interview COVID Isolation Center Kathmandu Nepal

NYF President Som Paneru recently spoke with BBC News about the situation in Nepal. You may listen to the 2-minute interview here, or read the transcription below.

Som: The second wave is causing a great level of distress among the population here. The cases are rising at an alarming rate since the last couple of weeks. People are desperate to find life-saving services like oxygen, hospital beds, ICU, ventilators, etc. So a severe lack of safe isolation places is one of the root causes right now for spreading the virus. Families are living in very congested living conditions, and one family member gets infected and infects the rest. So that’s how it has reached every family and eventually the community. So the situation is very desperate, getting very desperate right now.

BBC News: And what are the hospitals saying in terms of, as you say, the beds. How have they been? Because we’ve been hearing what’s happening in neighboring India. How have people been managing if they haven’t had the oxygen supplies? Has it been the same where they’ve been buying their own cylinders, looking for them to be filled, or has it not yet got to that stage?

Som: We are pretty much going towards the same trail like in India. The families are desperate to secure a cylinder to keep at home. Because there are no places to go in hospitals. Hospitals are turning down new admissions in most of the places. Unless it is a really critical situation. So people are losing lives in the ambulance, traveling from one hospital to another.

BBC News: Can you tell us, please, Som, what your organization has been doing to try and help? What have you been seeing?

Som: Nepal Youth Foundation has recently started an isolation center. A safe isolation place for those people who are infected but are not able to go to hospital, and they cannot stay in the family either. So the isolation center is the first step towards breaking this chain of spreading the virus. So we’ve started one center in Kathmandu, and now there’s a huge demand for opening more centers like this across the country.

Slowing the spread of this virus is critical, and safe isolation centers are an important part of this process in crowded cities like Kathmandu. To learn about NYF’s other COVID responses, please visit our timeline here. And if you are able to donate, please do so by clicking the button below.

Vaccines for COVID-19 Arrive in Nepal!

Vaccines for COVID-19 Arrive in Nepal!

Nepal has successfully secured COVID vaccines through donations from neighboring countries! We’re excited to share that they have started administering the vaccines to high-risk groups and essential service providers.

All NYF staff members at the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home and the New Life center have received the vaccine, and the staff at Olgapuri Children’s Village are in the process of receiving it.

Vaccines arrive in Nepal! In early February 2021, our Nutritional Rehabilitation Home staff
members display their new COVID vaccine cards.

 In early February 2021, our Nutritional Rehabilitation Home staff members display their newCOVID vaccine cards.

We will continue the Lito for Life program until this nutritional support is no longer needed in hard-hit communities. But except for Olgapuri Vocational School (which will require extra safety measures), all of our programs have cautiously resumed operations!

Thank you to the NYF community for making all of this possible, and for supporting our work during these difficult times. Dhanyabad!

NYF’s Ongoing COVID Response: We’ve Launched 50 Access to Education Centers!

NYF’s Ongoing COVID Response: We’ve Launched 50 Access to Education Centers!

Access to Education is officially NYF’s largest COVID response program yet!

An Update from NYF President Som Paneru


Dear Friends,

Suchana*, a teacher from Dhading District, shows off the sign she will post over the door of her satellite school in her rural village. Behind her, a colleague holds her own sign.

When we piloted the Access to Education program in August, with only four satellite learning centers, we knew we would need to move quickly to keep students in rural Nepal from falling too far behind their peers in digitally-connected regions.

I am proud to announce that as of early October 2020, an additional 46 Access to Education Centers have been established in two rural municipalities in Dhading District: Netrawati Dabjong and Khaniyabas!

With an average of 100 students per satellite center, we’re currently providing 5,000 K-10 students with educational opportunities they haven’t had in six months! Partnering with public schools, this program is also mobilizing 354 teachers who are already on the Nepalese government’s payroll.

Chetmaya*, age 6, thought her school days were finished when the nearest school—an hour away on foot—closed due to COVID. Now with NYF’s Access to Education program, she is able to attend satellite classes right in her village.

Materials provided for each satellite center include a laptop preloaded with teaching materials linked to Nepal’s country-wide curriculum for each grade, a widescreen television, teacher training sessions, a white board, and reference books.

Classes are held in a building large enough for the village’s children: a women’s group meeting hall, a local health post, even an empty cow shed, if necessary.

And the Access to Education Centers with satellite are quick to establish. The materials provided to the teachers match their regular curriculum. Technical training is provided by NYF when materials are distributed. Once a teacher has returned to their village, they can begin teaching right away.

We hope to continue scaling Access to Education throughout the pandemic. We’re already working on expanding into Gorkha District’s Gandaki Rural Municipality.

Shankar Gurung, a teacher, tells us, “The students are excited to come. The resources provided by NYF have been so helpful and the students are enjoying learning from this new technique.”

The teachers are excited, too. Nepal’s rural schools haven’t yet gained access to digital technology—until now. As we trained the latest batch of teachers, we met many, like Ram*, right, who had never worked with a computer before. He was delighted to see the familiar curriculum appear on the screen during his training and was relieved to learn how user-friendly the device was. NYF has assured him that we’re only a phone call away if he needs any troubleshooting support.

Packing his new materials up, porter-style, Ram told us he’d traveled two hours on foot from his village to meet us at the school building—the same walk his students used to take every day.

He is thrilled to have a way to get back into the classroom, bringing critical opportunities back into the lives of students he has dedicated his career to educating.

As a former teacher myself, I understand his excitement. Having the resources to bring good-quality education to your community is a precious thing. Knowing the children in your care can keep learning, even during a pandemic, is an incredible relief. It’s something none of these teachers take for granted.

Many of the villages we are serving are very remote—days away from the nearest towns on foot. Even in the best of times, children experiencing poverty drop out of school to contribute to their family expenses through cheap labor, and instances of early marriage are very common for young girls especially.

These learning centers have been critical in helping keep these children in school and minimizing dropouts.

Middle-grade students listen attentively as their teacher explains their new multi-grade learning schedule using the new digital set-up.

Thank you to each member of the NYF Family who has lovingly supported Access to Education so far!

As COVID-19 continues to surge in Kathmandu Valley, we are uncertain how long school closures will last.

Fortunately, the travel restrictions have protected many of these more rural communities. Children from within a single village must still wear masks, just in case, but among members of their own remote community, they have very limited opportunities for exposure to COVID-19.

We’ve built momentum with this incredible program, and we’re hoping to grow as much as we can in the coming months.

NYF’s small training team unloads widescreen television sets outside the empty school building meant to serve the rural communities of Khaniyabas and Netrawati Dabjong. Soon teachers will arrive from villages scattered in all directions to receive social-distanced training and the tools they’ll need to start satellite learning centers anywhere with a power supply.

Each learning center in our Access to Education program costs $1,000 to establish and can serve 100 students or more. Please help us provide these vital opportunities to children in rural Nepal by making your loving donation here.

Dhanyabad,
Som Paneru, President

*Names have been changed to protect privacy


Credit card donations via our website are still being processed without delay, as are direct bank transfers (EFTs). If you mail a check to our office (1016 Lincoln Blvd #222, San Francisco, CA 94129) please know that we continue to check the mail twice per week, so there will be a delay in our thank you letter being mailed to you.

If you need to reach us, staff are monitoring individual emails and the email address Info@NepalYouthFoundation.org daily. You can also call us at 415-331-8585 and leave a message, as staff will be periodically be calling in to check voicemail.