We are proud that in 2019  we were successful with supporting 21 students in our core ‘Youth Scholars’ program, and we helped with health education programs for hundreds of students through our partnerships with two other organizations in Nepal. We’ve also managed to raise more than we needed without direct calls for donations and we are heading into 2020 fiscally healthy.  A big thank you to everyone who has donated! But it has also been a challenging year – we continue to operate as a volunteer organization and are in need of engaged help at the board level and also on the ground. It takes a lot of effort to effectively plan and implement programs and after 8 years of effort, we are actively exploring Nepal-based partners who may be able to better carry out our mission. Stay tuned in that regard, and feel free to reach out if you would like to have a more active role in the conversation. Please see program updates from 2019 below and let us know if you have any questions!

Thank you,

Sudeep Kandel – Country Director
Seth Wolpin – Executive Director

Youth Scholars Program

Nikita meeting with Pasang Sherpa, father of five of the children we support.

We were able to keep 21 students in school for the majority of the year. Three of our students finished high school; two of them have a guardian who wants to send them to Germany to work; we’ve reached out to them and stressed the importance of having them continue their studies at University and our willingness to provide an increased level of financial support. This offer is still being considered, our hearts will be sad if they go to Germany but there is only so much we can do. The third student is currently waiting to learn about whether he has received a visa for studies in the USA. A fourth student, with special needs, is at a monastery and we have tried multiple times to find better services for him in Kathmandu without success. We continue to get updates and work at finding a better solution.

Through our partnership with Himalayan Adventure Labs, we were also able to help organize our third annual Children’s race in Manang on the Annapurna Circuit.  Thanks to Matt Jenkins  from www.cliffcolor.com for producing this short video from the event in 2018.

Girls In Action (GIA) Program

In April we partnered with a group of medical students from the USA, led with Dr. Jessie Gehner, an emergency physician and her medical students from Virginia Tech Carillon 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. Much thanks to Nikita for coordinating on this project.

Wilderness First Aid Class – spinal injury assessment

 

Happy Graduates

Community and Ad Hoc Projects 

We partnered again this year with Sahaayam Nepal, a non-profit organization focused on providing health education in Nepal. With our funding help, they provided intensive health education programs at two schools in the Kathmandu valley – these programs reached to 175 boys and girls. Our intention was to fund programs at 12 schools but we halted due to a lack of resources on our side as well as concerns about the curriculum and evaluation approach as detailed in our summer update. Our call for help in that update did not find any volunteers so this program has been on hold.

Photo from Sahaayam Nepal’s facebook page

In our fourth quarter, we partnered with ‘Canopy Nepal’ where 20 students sponsored by WOV successfully graduated 5 day Katha Banaun workshop. During the workshop, students learned about different aspects of story writing, watched short film, along with active discussions on the LGBTQ+ community and their representation in Nepali society. They wrote stories themed around social issues sharing their personal experiences in the stories and presented them beautifully through drama and drawings. Big thanks to Canopy Nepal team, Nikita, Himalaya school and Ajay for taking a lead.

Canapy Nepal: Photo Credit: Learners’ Hub.

We also put out a call for proposals to help fund research projects that support our mission. Our call was to faculty at two academic medical centers in Kathmandu, unfortunately we received no submissions. We are still exploring why this was the case – it may have been due in part to not getting the word out enough, or the application format being overly difficult, or the funding level being too low to capture interest. Thank you Dr. Pratibha Phuyal and Dr. Meekha Tuladhar for their service on this committee.

Financials/Development

We finished the year with $19,217.96 in assets, an increase of $1,458‬ over last year. We received $7,039 in total donations from the year, the majority came from fundraisers who participated, or are connected to us, through our partner organization Himalayan Adventure Labs.  Thank you to everyone who donated especially individual donors Nicola S., Willehard and Jane W., and Alex and Jennifer U. While we have a donation button on the website, we made no grand calls for donations. Much of this has to do with scaling down our programs in 2018-2019 so that our operating expenses were in the $8,000 range, an amount that we felt we could responsibly manage and also fund raise without urgent calls for action.

When we look at our budget and total expenditures, our largest expense was on our ‘Youth Scholars’ program which is our core program where we subsidize tuition, books, medical exams, and uniforms for 21 students. Our ‘Girls in Action’ program provided a Wilderness First Aid class to female trekking guides and students. And our ‘Adhoc fund’ covered two health programs with Sahaayam Nepal reaching to 175 students as well as an intensive English/story telling program at one of the schools we support with our partner Canopy Nepal.

Our administrative overhead was $670, or 10.4%, of our entire budget. This more than we would like to spend, the majority of it was for paying 2018 taxes in Nepal as we did not become a registered non-profit in Nepal until 2019. Thanks to Sudeep and Avash for helping us finally become a tax exempt organization in Nepal. It has been a long road! Otherwise, most of our expenses (internet, postal services, etc) were picked up by Himalayan Adventure Labs. No board members received any salaries, materials, or reimbursements for anything. Hourly help was provided by Nikita and centered on helping Sudeep (volunteer) pay tuition, collect grades/attendance records, and run ad-hoc programs. Thank you Nikita! We under spent by $1,854 which is largely a function of not having sufficient resources on the ground to implement our programs.

2019 Budget Budgeted Spent (NPR) Spent USD Balance
Youth Scholars $4,200 420,949.00 $3,725.21 $475
Girls in Action $1,500 121,760.00 $1,077.52 $422
Adhoc-project/fund $1,500 78000 $690.27 $810
Administrative $620 70,106.00 $670.41 -$50
Hourly Help 500 34,152.00 $302.23 $197.77
Totals $8,320.00 724,967.00 $6,415.64 $1,854.36

Our approach is to set aside $7,500 from our assets and to hold these as ‘emergency reserves’. These represent approximately six months of operating expenses. When we do this, we have 19,217-7,500= $11,717 held in our operating reserves for 2020. In our Q4 board meeting, we adopted the same budget ($8,320) for 2020 as we did for 2019. If we use all of this up and do not raise any funds, we will have $3,397.96 left in our operating reserves. We like to end each year with enough in our operating reserves for the first six months of the next year as we often need to pay six months of tuition at the start of the year. Assuming we adopt the same budget in 2021 as we did for 2020, we will want our operating reserve to be $4,160 which means our fundraising goal for 2020 is a modest $762. Much of this is due to raising more funds than expected in 2019, spending less than expected in 2019, and not increasing our budget.

Simplified Projections for 2020
Current assets $19,217.96
Emergency Reserve (six months+ expenses) -$7,500.00
Operating Reserve $11,717.96
Funds Remaining in 2020 Budget to Spend (encumbrances) $8,320.00
Operating Reserve at end of 2020 if all funds spent and no more funds are raised $3,397.96
Preferred amount for operating reserves at end of 2020 for 2021 (half of 2020 budget) $4,160.00
Fundraising goal for 2020 $762.04

Two infrastructure changes involved re-theming our website as it was difficult to make updates using the old theme (even if it did look a little nicer). We also changed our online fundraising platform to Give Lively with a back-end by Stripe – these work better than PayPal and take a smaller percentage of each commission. And we were able to acquire Quickbooks at a non-profit rate but ironically find it not very well suited for managing our finances.

Our biggest fiscal challenge, apart from resources on the ground is that we have not been able to find a treasurer. Finances that span two organizations (WOV-USA and WOV-Nepal), in two currencies, are challenging to reconcile without expert help. We have put out calls in the past and repeat them here – we welcome anyone with accounting/book-keeping experience to help us.  Our other challenge is spending the funds that have been donated to us; as a volunteer driven organization we need impassioned people who can commit to helping – either at the board level or on the ground in Nepal. Without this kind of help, we will cease to exist and this is looking more likely each quarter.

Admin-Governance 

We had four quarterly meetings this year, the first was conducted by email and the remaining three by using the Zoom conference platform donated by Himalayan Adventure Labs. A recurring theme in all of these is that we need more board members who are engaged and leading programs – we tried several times to reach out via social media and to colleagues and acquaintances but have not had success. The few that are engaged are juggling multiple responsibilities which is not sustainable. We continue to recruit for the following positions and welcome any nominations: a) Secretary, b) Treasurer, c) Development Director.

Thank you to the following board members!

  • Pranav – Medical Officer
  • Samjhana – Child Protection Officer
  • Ajay – Youth Scholars Program
  • Avash – Legal issues
  • Sonam – Girls in Action Program
  • Seth –  Fund Raising (temporary), Secretary (temporary), Grants Award Program, Website
  • Sudeep – General Country Operations
  • Courtney – At large