EducateHKC is a program that sponsors education in an effort to end the need for child labor in our community. EducateHKC works in partnership with Proxima International Academy. Through EducateHKC we treat education as a child’s full time job.
Everyday, while most of the children of Bhaktapur are sitting at desks in school, many of our Happy Kids are roaming the streets in search of plastic and cardboard recyclables to sell to the government, or begging tourists for rice and spare change. It was always a dream of ours to enroll all of these children in school. We were not alone in this hope. Over the last few years we had witnessed several kind hearted travelers attempt to sponsor our kids’ education, only to have it fall apart shortly thereafter.
We vowed, for this reason that we would take our time in creating a scholarship program some day in the distant future, so that we would not be another failed statistic. However, in Spring 2016 EducateHKC was born out of necessity.
There is one family in the Indian HKC community that is different from the rest. A family of eight girls ranging from 8 to 23 years old, all of whom had attended to school. Many years ago the eldest of the eight girls met a tourist while she was begging in the street. He volunteered to act as the family’s benefactor and from then forward, sent she and all of her sisters to school.
By the time Happy Kids Center opened only 5 of the 8 girls remained in Bhaktapur, as the three eldest sisters had been married very young, and were unable to complete their education. At the end of 2016 the father of the girls died of a liver condition due to a lifetime of alcoholism. It was at this time that two more of the girls, ages 15 and 17, were taken out of school and married. The family was now struggling financially, and without their father or any brothers they had no source of income. The remaining girls were taken out of school and began working in the street just like the rest of the Indian children from their community.
We realized quickly that it was now or never. It was time for Happy Kids Center to create a scholarship program or these girls would lose any shot they had at an education. We recognized at this point the reason that so many similar programs had failed in the past; without the children working in the street, families had no income. It is simply a choice between survival or education. It is with this in mind that we designed the Happy Kids Center’s incentive based sponsorship program, EducateHKC, where we treat a child’s education as their full time job.
- 28% of the children at Happy Kids Center are not currently enrolled in school.
- These are the children of Indian migrants who cannot get jobs in Nepal. The children therefore are the primary source of income.
- These children are known in this city as “street kids”. They work in the street collecting plastic and cardboard to sell to the government and beg tourists to earn enough money to eat each night
- EducateHKC is currently focusing on getting the youngest of these Happy Kids into school. This year’s sponsored students are ages 5 to 8 and will start in Class 1.
- Even if families could afford the cost of sending a child to school, they cannot survive without their children’s income.
- EducateHKC places a monetary value on education that will motivate parents to send their children to school consistently.
- This community has never witnessed the benefits of education first hand, and therefore places little value on education, additional motivation is essential.
- Providing a financial incentive to send girls to school may decrease the risk of child marriage as parents are less likely to marry their daughters if they are providing an income.
- Educating the severely impoverished could break the cycle of poverty that leads to practices like child labor and child marriage for the next generation.
- EducateHKC combats child labor by treating education as a child’s full time job.
- Sponsors will cover the school fees, exam fees, uniform cost, and cost of books at the very reputable, Proxima International School
- Sponsors also support the family by supplementing the income a child would make working in the street through EducateHKC’s Incentives Program.
- For every day the student attends school they will receive 35Rs ($.35USD). If the student comes to school with their homework done, their uniform clean and acts with good behavior they will earn an additional 15Rs ($.15USD.)