When HKC first opened its doors only 42% of the children we serve were enrolled in school. The rest of the children spent their days working in the street, collecting recyclables to sell and begging. 100% of Indian girls were married by 16 years old and 70% of all children were considered severely underweight according to the World Health Organization’s statistics on BMI. In the last year HKC has seen much success in making our mission a reality. Today, 87% of HKC children are enrolled in formal education and only 8% engage in child labor, with no new children joining the workforce since 2016.
December 2017, we launched a pilot child marriage prevention program called Kanya String of Hope. Kanya String of Hope provides improved educational and economic opportunities to at risk girls, encouraging personal growth empowerment and while offering alternatives to child marriage. After just one year of engagement, two girls who recently turned 17 remain unmarried. We understand this has never occurred before in this community. Additionally, two families have committed to delay the marriages of their daughters until age 18 if the program continues to run as planned.
Our most recent new program developed to support hygiene and sanitation was completed November 2018, after being gifted $1,700 by Rebuilding Bhaktapur in October, 2018. We constructed two solar heated showers to provide 37 children with a safe, clean space to bathe twice weekly and installed a PAUL water filter, providing free, potable water to 17 families.
Through this program we aim to instill healthy personal hygiene practices and decrease the risk of disease like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhea, which is the leading cause of child death in Nepal (World Health Organization.) Today, 60% of HKC families have no running water in their homes and 66% of the water consumed in households in the Kathmandu Valley contain hazardous bacteria according District Public Health Office of Kathmandu. Providing easy access to potable water also limits the time girls and women spend fetching water, which is a leading cause of school absence.
In the next year EducateHKC will expand to include 6 children and Kanya String of Hope will enroll 3 more girls. Ultimately, we plan to enroll all eligible children in these programs as they come of age and expand to include vocational programs in the next 3 years.
By removing vulnerable children from child labor through education sponsorship and KSH they are less likely to hold hazardous, low paying jobs as adults (2015 World Report on Child Labor.) An extra year of primary education for girls boosts future earnings by 15-25%, making them 6 times less likely to be married as children (Girls Not Brides.) By ending child marriage, we will end a contributing factor of cyclical poverty by preventing gender discrimination, illiteracy, malnutrition, and high infant and maternal mortality rates (Unicef.)