Time flies! The WOV Board met last month for our quarterly meeting – you can find our minutes online, but a more readable version of what we’ve been busy with is below. The gist is that we’ve been keeping a low profile with a focus on our core ‘Youth Scholars Program’. We’ve had some great help with fundraising through our partner organization Himalayan Adventure Labs – to the point where we have not had to make direct calls for donations (although we always welcome them!). That said, we are putting out a special call for volunteers who have expertise in girls health education, bookkeeping, and social media. If this sounds like you, and you would be willing to volunteer a minimum of ten hours per month with a great non-profit, please contact us! Thank you, Seth & The Wide Open Vistas Team.
Youth Scholars Program
We continue to support 21 scholars in school in our core ‘Youth Scholars Program. This is our 8th year running this program! We are in the process of visiting schools (we do this at the start of each year and also in the summer) to collect grades and attendance information, visit with principals and parents, and pay the tuition subsidies. Right now we are monitoring three scholars who passed high school and applying for colleges and providing guidance where necessary. Thanks to Sudeep and Nikita for visiting the schools and making this program happen.
Every winter we also provide students with a high quality medical checkup at the Nepal International Clinic. Sometimes students need followup care and we also cover this, but having the parents bring the students back to the clinic has sometimes proven to be a barrier due to time and transport issues because most of the families are in Northern Kathmandu and the clinic is in central Kathmandu. We decided that if parents want to take their children to a teaching hospital closer to home, we will reimburse up to 5,000 rupees (about $50) without pre-approval and providing they have the receipts etc. Thanks to Dr. Pranav for leading this policy change and overseeing the health of our students.
We also discussed spending some funds to have a nonprofit that specializes in ‘English Camps’ visit the schools where we sponsor students; their services would help all of the students at the school. Thanks to board member Ajay for looking into this, we will report more in our next update.
Girls In Action(GIA) Program
Our main activity this year was helping to deliver a Wilderness First Aid class. We did this by partnering with Dr. Jessie Gehner, an emergency physician and her medical students from Virginia Tech Carilion in the USA. All were en route to Everest Base Camp as part of a Wilderness Medicine Program led by Jessie and on their way to the mountains, they graciously spent a day in Kathmandu helping provide a Wilderness First Aid class to female trekking guides and also our youth scholars. We helped underwrite the cost for small first aid kits, helped with recruiting participants, arranged transport and meals etc. At the end of the day, participants received certificates of completion. Thanks Jessie and Team for helping us with this!
Our other plans for GIA were to continue our partnership with a local organization that delivers 3-5 day health education curriculum in schools throughout Kathmandu. This was a successful partnership last year, we were able to provide funding and logistical support for three schools. And it aligns with our goal of funding low-cost/high impact programs that require minimal time from our board members who are already stretched. However, a review of their curriculum found significant areas for improvement related to grounding in the evidence base, literacy level of educational materials, and also with respect to evaluation. Until we can find someone (new board member or advisory member) to help with improvements in these areas, we are proceeding a cautiously to make sure funds are well spent with optimal outcomes. We are currently funding one school at a time to the tune of $140 for a 3 day curriculum – if we receive a thorough evaluation and see evidence of improvement in the curriculum, we will extend the funding agreement on a school-by-school basis. If you have a background in girls health education and can spare 10 hours a month for a few months, we would love to have your input.
Community Projects and Ad Hoc Projects
Board Members Seth Wolpin and Pranav tried to re-launch the micro-research grant project during the early part of this year. The goal was to fund innovative projects that align with girls health, education and leadership. A call for proposals was created and distributed to faculty at Kathmandu Medical University at Dhulikhel with two awards available, each allowing for $1,000 USD toward program costs. Unfortunately we received no applications. It is not clear whether this was due to the low award amount, the complexity of the application, advertising efforts, narrow scope of call, or some other factor. If there is a volunteer out there who would like to look into this and possibly re-launch the program. We can get you started and help logistically! We see this as a win-win, helping support Nepali health researchers in areas that are important to us, and also helping girls in Nepal as a result of these programs.
We raised $1,885 in the first half of this year on paper. The bulk of this came from fundraisers who are doing trips with our partner organization ‘Himalayan Adventure Labs (HAL)’ – HAL provides discounts to participants who agree to fund raise for WOV. This year has seen some great fundraisers, In fact, over $3000 USD in additional funds have been raised; we are waiting for these funds to make their way to our bank account but if all works out we are well on our way to meeting, if not exceeding, our fundraising goals for the year.
Thanks to Rich Leggett from Issaquah, WA for fund raising while doing the Annapurna Circuit in April, 2019 as part of ‘Team Salmon’. You can read their trip report here. Rich raised over $850 dollars and also helped out with a children’s race that we organize on the circuit. These funds have been deposited in our account.
Matt and Jo Jenkins from New Zealand participated in the Langtang Fastpack with HAL in the spring – ‘Team Yak Cheese’ was able to make it over 5,000m on a local peak and raised funds along the way for WOV. If you take a look at their trip report and photos, you will understand how they got their team name. Thanks team!
Our third fundraising effort for the year was led by Yves Stevens who participated in a HAL trip around the Annapurna Circuit in the fall of 2018 as part of ‘Team Slow Momo’ – their trip report can be found here. On his return from the Himalaya, Yves presented WOV as a candidate for fund raising to his son’s school Sjabi in Puurs, Belgium. Every year, the school organizes a charity walk and donates the funds to ten selected charity projects. Thanks to Yves efforts, WOV was selected as a recipient and the school raised over $3,000 USD for WOV! Big thanks to Yves, his family, and the students at Sjabi School in Belgium!
We also switched to a new fundraising platform (run by a non-profit called Give Lively) and payment processor (Stripe which offers a special non-profit fee) as we were formerly with Paypal which has questionable corporate ethics and also charges non-profits a higher processing fee than we feel is appropriate. We’ve struggled a bit with how to thank donors on our ‘Youth Scholars‘ page – we know it is nice for people to donate and support a specific student, but without paid staff, or a very sophisticated donor management system, it is very difficult to keep track of when sponsorship periods end. It is also hard to prompt donors to continue support and keep details on who sponsoring whom updated. We’ve also tried collecting letters from students, scanning them and posting them…but this gets complicated fast and our feeling is that writing the letters can dis-empower the students and reinforce their feelings of being impverished if not handled correctly. If you would like to help us figure out a good system for this, please drop us a line. It doesn’t matter where you are geographically located. Otherwise, we are just going to keep things simple and thank donors at the top of the page moving forward, rather than thanks individual donors per student.
We currently have over $15,000 in assets with an annual budget of just over $8,000. We are largely volunteer run (spending only a few hundred dollars a year on part-time help in Nepal). Our assets include a sizable ’emergency reserve fund’ which we are looking at moving into an interest bearing call account. All of our financials are now being tracked in Quickbooks for Nonprofits but we could use some expertise in this area, especially with reporting. If this is your expertise, we would love to hear from you! For more detail on our financials, please see the summer 2019 minutes under the ‘Transparency‘ section of our website.
Our fundraising goals for the remainder of the year is $459
Thanks on behalf of the board and the students you have helped.
Dr. Samjhana, President, Nepal Board, Child Protection Officer
Dr. Pranav Koirala MBBS, Nepal and US Board Member, Chief Medical Officer
Smriti Katuwal, Youth Scholar Representative, Nepal Board Member
Ajay, Youth Scholars Program, Nepal Board Member
Avash, Legal, Nepal Board Member
Sonam Shah, Social Media, Nepal Board Member
Seth Wolpin, Executive Director US Board. Fund Raising (temporary), Book-keeping, Secretary (temporary), Grants Award Program, Website
Courtney Kopec, Treasurer
Sudeep (Volunteer), Country Director
Nikita Thapaliya (Hourly), Program Coordinator