Namaste! Thanks to you, Wide Open Vistas (WOV) has been able to continue our work in Nepal over the past year. If you are unfamiliar with Wide Open Vistas, it might help to know how we got started. Or if you are one of our valued donors, you may be looking for information about claiming a deduction on your 2016 taxes, but if neither of these two things apply, let’s get down to what we got accomplished (and didn’t) in 2016:
Girl’s Bathroom is Up and Running!
In August 2015, we received a letter from the principal at a school in northern Kathmandu requesting assistance with improving bathroom facilities for over 400 female students. The existing facilities were extremely inadequate for the girls, and new facilities were needed. We made a site visit and wholeheartedly agreed. An engineering company provided designs and cost estimates that were 1,357,603 Rupees (about $13,500 USD). Since there is a strong connection between access to bathrooms and staying in school for adolescent girls, the Board voted to approve this project.
Things tend to take a little more time in Nepal. Or they don’t always work out the way you plan. But eventually we got the job done! There was a huge septic tank to build, foundations to put down, and a petrol crisis in the midst of it all. In late January of 2016, the roof for the bathroom being put on. By May, the bathroom was in use, and by late September we were finally able to celebrate with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Most recently it was painted by the girls. We’ve continued to make small refinements to the bathroom (and we intend to continue to do this within the bathroom and around the school as there are a number of rough edges and literal safety hazards) but if you are in the neighborhood, we hope you will pay it a visit. For more bathroom updates, please click here.
A Focus On Girls
Thanks to Sonam, we’ve been able to offer a good number of girls hikes and runs in 2016. These are offered not just for our supported scholars, but also other interested girls in northern Kathmandu near our catchment area of Buddhanilkantha. This has led to the slow development and formalization of a Girls’ Running Program, which we plan to greatly expand in 2017. In February, we got to spend time with Lizzy Hawker who is considered one of the best endurance athletes in the world. Lizzy holds records for running from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu as well as traversing the length of Nepal on the Great Himalayan Trail. We were fortunate to have Lizzy join our WOV girls for a hike to the top of Shivapuri. We also received discounted copies of Lizzy Hawker’s book, ‘Runner’ and she signed copies for each of the WOV girls.
In March, our WOV Girls’ Running Team completed their first International Women’s Day 5k Fun Run/Walk. It was amazing to see them finish their first race with so much joy and excitement. They were happy to get together with Mira Rai, Lizzy Hawker and so many other inspirational women participating in the race. Shortly after, in late April, our girls ran in another 5K race in Budhanilkantha. A total of 52 girls participated and finished the 5k trail race. The girls told us they really enjoy these opportunities to run with other girls.
In addition to races, we’ve organized several hikes and outings for the girls including: Hike to Baghdwar (May 2016), Hike to Kapan Monasteries from Budhanilkantha (July 2016), Mira Rai Documentary screening (November 2016), and completing their first 10K run (November 2016). We are looking to build off of the momentum we’ve created from our Girls’ Empowerment Program from this year. Our goals moving forward for 2017 will be outlining a more specific plan for what this program looks like, what goals we are trying to accomplish, how we will measure our progress on those goals, and how it will remain sustainable.
Ad-hoc Projects: New Shoes in Sano Dumma
Towards the end of the summer, we were contacted with a special request to help purchase shoes for children in Mira Rai’s home village of Sano Dumma (a remote part of eastern Nepal). Mira was organizing a local race for children in the community. Many of the children there wear plastic sandals, flip flops, or go barefoot. The board weighed the proposal, and thanks to your donations we were able to help. The total funding for purchasing shoes for children in the village was $450 USD and plans are now underway to make the children’s race (and the shoes) self-sustaining in the coming years. Mara Larson helped Mira with the proposal and organizing the event in conjunction with Trail Running Nepal. You can read a thank you letter from Mara here.
Supporting Youth Scholars
Thanks to your donations, we were able to renew support for twenty scholars. Two of them are now in their 11th grade. We just completed data collection efforts for each family, allowing us to calculate scores for each family on a poverty index as well as other demographic information. Grades and attendance records were also collected and will be analyzed – support will be offered if issues emerge. If we exceed our fundraising goals in 2017, we will allocate additional donations toward funding new scholars with an emphasis on girls.
We are also happy to say we were finally able to coordinate and fund comprehensive medical exams for all of our students including comprehensive blood tests, deworming, and follow-up exams and treatment when warranted.
When you are a small non-profit with virtually no overhead, fundraising can be really tough. We are incredibly grateful for all of the support you have offered us this year and years past. A little bit goes such a long way in Nepal, and we know we are really making a difference with your help.
We also want to extend a special thank you to some of our exceptionally generous donors:
- Nicola Stanhope
- Stephanie Gundel & Ballard High Gymnastics Team
- Katherine Ford
- Emma Bockman
- Barbara Fiddler
- Linda Quirk
This year we have some great people who have already stepped up saying they will fund raise for Wide Open Vistas. Sudeep and Seth are also co-leading two adventures in the Langtang and Annapurna Regions as part of their work with Himalayan Adventure Labs – a portion of the proceeds will go to WOV. We also anticipate partnering with local organizations in the USA, Nepal, and hopefully beyond.
If you’re interested in kicking off your own adventure for a cause (big or small) consider being a fundraiser on #TeamWOV for 2017! It is very easy to setup your own page and it includes goals and ways for you to report on your adventure. If you have questions about how to get started, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would like to congratulate Sudeep for finishing his undergraduate degree this fall in Development Finance from Kathmandu University. He has also studied ACCA(Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) at Kaplan Financial in London. Sudeep has been working with WOV as our Chief Field Officer for the past two years. We are also happy to report Sudeep is stepping into a new position at WOV as our Country Director in a half-time role. We are highly optimistic that Sudeep’s management of program activities will have a positive impact on Wide Open Vistas.
Sonam has continued to do a great job leading the Girls’ Empowerment Program in 2016. She is also preparing to leave Nepal for studies in the US. We will hold on to what remaining time we have with her as we continue to develop the Girls’ Running Program. We thank her for her help over the past two years, and wish her the best.
Dr. Pranav Koirala
Pranav has been a frequent volunteer medical consultant for some time and we are delighted that he has formerly joined the Board.. Pranav has a long list of impressive credentials including a fellowship in high altitude medicine along with rotations at Everest ER. He has helped us forge a partnership with the Nepal International Clinic and provides oversight on the physical health of our youth scholars. Welcome Pranav, we are delighted to have you on board!
Financials for 2016
Our 2016 budget was relatively small at $7,471. We raised just under this ($7,229). Once again, our administrative expenses were under 5%, almost all of which were credit card transaction fees (4.8%). All of our Board members work as volunteers. So what was spent?
- Less than a $100 on bank wire transfer fees and stationary.
- $6,979 in funds encumbered from 2015 for for the second half of the bathroom expenses,
- $4,357 toward other program costs like tuition and the Girls’ Running Program.
We finished the year with $14,998 in assets. This is almost enough to outright to cover our budget for 2017 which is $15,300. The budget is higher than in 2016 because we are planning on expanding the Girls’ Running Team, as well as funding more salaries for program staff to help run our programs.
So why raise money in 2017? Because we would otherwise have no margin and we will also have a tuition bill at the end of this year for the first six months of 2018. Accordingly, our fundraising goal for 2017 is $10,000. If we exceed this fundraising goal the Board will explore funding additional youth scholars.
Looking Ahead to 2017
- Discontinuing Micro Research Grants: We have decided to temporarily suspend the Micro Research Grant Program. We simply were not receiving the quantity or quality of proposals that we anticipated. While we are proud of the two projects that we funded, we are going to spend our time and energy on the Youth Scholar and Girls’ Empowerment Program. We have always supported ad-hoc projects and we will continue this practice.
- Revisiting Girls’ Empowerment Program: We are returning to the core of having this be a Girls’ Running Program with the long term goal of empowering girls. In 2017, we will develop structured plans, teams, calendars, and equip girls to participate in running events at the local level no matter what skill level. We will also offer hikes and field trips for both girls that we support as scholars and also other girls in the community.
- Developing better systems for following up with scholars: We are putting a process into place for quarterly updates from youth scholars. We will pass these on. We will also match scholars with donors if both are amenable.
- Fundraising! Building community among #TeamWOV supporters: We are always looking for help, whether it is partnering with a corporate event or having you support us with your next activity. Getting started is easy.
Thanks once again for your support last year, and for your help in 2017. We appreciate you sending us your excellent ideas, words of encouragement, connections, offers to fund raise, and donations. We couldn’t do this without you.
On behalf of Team WOV,
Seth Wolpin PhD MPH RN
President (Volunteer), Wide Open Vistas