Identification of Children for HEAD Mobile School

Our Report from 2011

Identification and Need Assessment of Blind and Partially Sighted Children

As the HEAD Nepal, Himalayan Education and Development is going to start its first venture that is the establishment of the Head Mobile Blind School in the villages of Humla, we started the identification process and need assessment of the blind and partially sighted children for the Head Mobile Blind School officially on 15th of May 2011 in 8 Village Development Committee, (VDCs) which are the initially working-areas of HEAD Nepal in Humla district. They are: Khangalgaun, Syanda, Hepka, Dandaphaya, Simikot, Bargaun, thehey and Chhipra. Each VDC consists of nine wards. Our staffs visited to all villages of these VDCs and identified 21 blind and low vision children and numbers of other disabled people. The following are the reports from all eight VDC respectively.

1. Dandaphaya VDC:

Firstly we started field visit from Dandaphaya VDC on 15th of May to identify the blind and partially sighted children and also to conduct their need assessment. In Dandaphaya VDC, our staffs, Sunam and Anit identified one partially sighted girl. They spent two days visiting 5 villages in the same VDC. In the first day, they could not find any blind child and they shared the same thing to one of the old men in Chauganphaya village. And the old man said: “Due to the consumption of the organic/fresh food and green vegetables locally produced,, there is no blind person in Humla”. Anit one of our staffs shares his experience while in the field. Sunam said: “I am very worried about the implementation of the Head Mobile Blind School project”. “It is very hard to find beneficiaries, the blind and partially sighted children for our project” expressed his hypothetical opinion since only a single partially sighted child was identified in entire VDC.

2. Simikot VDC:

HEAD Nepal staffs, Mr. Lokraj Shahi and Anit Thapa visited all 9 wards of five villages of Simikot VDCs for two days on 4th and 5th of May 2011. They found 5 blind and partially sighted children and number of other persons with disabilities in the VDC. Our staff received the feedback from the general public that though this VDC is located in the district headquarter, most of persons with disabilities have not received any opportunity and services neither from the government of Nepal nor from other non-governmental organizations. Many people in the villages told them that many organizations collected data of disabled people, but so far they get nothing in return. “We don’t know about other organizations and what they have done, but we are clear and transference on what we are doing. If you have any curiosity or question about our project please feel free to ask me or contact to our office” said Mr. Lokraj Shahi. About the same topic, they had a discussion with a village woman in Hildum that she-was not happy in collecting data of persons with disabilities. She also blame on other organization saying that the organizations are misusing the data’s and not being transference to the beneficiaries. Certainly, the woman asked to Mr. Lokraj Shahi that what our organization is doing. Then Mr. Lokraj explained about the Head Mobile Blind School for the blind and partially sighted children. Later, the woman said: “lets see, if HEAD Nepal will do somethings in the field of disability” She showed a positive expectation.

3. Bargaun VDC:

Very early in the morning at 6-30 am on 20th of May our three staffs, Chhitup Lokraj and Anit started their journey to Bargaun VDC which lies to the eastern part of the district headquarter Simikot. This BDC contains five villages. That day, they had a plan to visit all the villages. In the first three villages, they could not found any blind and partially sighted child. However, they identified a huge number of persons with other disabilities. While going to Langduk, Torpa Hutik and Nimatang villages, our staffs had to struggle with very rough path. They had to cross a very fast flowing river through a wooden bridge. It was quite excited and adventurous as well. When they reached at the last village Bargaun, they saw a boy on the way and ask him if there is any blind and partially sighted child in that village. The boy said: “Yes sir, there are three blind children in the same family” “Look that is their house” the boy added pointing out his finger to the house which is a bit far away from the other houses in the village. Then our staffs headed towards the house.

A woman appeared from the house and she was Rithu Sunar, the mother of the children. We asked her about her children. She said “I have three blind children and they are just around” She showed a small boy just next to her and Said: “He is Chandrabir eight years old, my one of sons and he cannot see properly.” Afterward her husband, Sal Bahadur Sunar also came with their daughter, Shreedevi Sunar nine years old, and she was also partially sighted. Both of them never go to school. Later on we asked them about their third blind child. Sal Bahadur asked his wife to call the son, and he told us that he is Raj Bahadur Sunar, their eldest son 15 years old can see a bit better than their other children and is studying in class eight in the local school near by the village. We again asked them why their other two children are not going to school. They said that on the one hand, the children cannot go to school due to their poor eye sight and on the other, poverty is a big problem for them to educate their children. In fact, this family belongs to Dalit, locally called Dum, considered as low caste (untouchable) and is one of the most disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable communities in Nepalese society.

After almost 10 hours walk to the village to village and house to house, we walked back to Simikot at 3-30 pm from Bargaun village. It took almost three hours to reach Simikot. On the way, there was the same river we crossed in the morning. At that river bank, we had lunch, locally called Roti, a kind of bread which was backed from home in the morning.

4. Syanda VDC:

On 24th and 25th of May, our staff Mr. Lokraj Shahi visited the four villages of Syanda VDC which is located in the north-western part of district headquarter Simikot where he identified 3 children with low vision in three different villages and 85 other persons with disabilities in the VDC. In this VDC, most of the parents and relatives of the persons with disabilities expressed their bitter experience that so far, no organization/project has been launched in the area to provide any kind of opportunity and service to the disabled people even the government is passive and irresponsible for them. Additionally they also said that any organization who work for people with disabilities will be a great work, religion and will be the eyes for them to open the world in front of them. And also the general public suggested HEAD Nepal to come again and again throughout the villages with supportive/helpful programs and even to exchange the happiness and sadness what they have. They added that there is nobody and no organization who can hear the voice of person with disabilities.

5. Khangalgaun VDC

After visiting Syanda VDC, Mr. Shahi went throughout the four villages of Khangalgaun VDC which is located next to Syanda. He found most of the houses in the villages are in far distance. It took two days to cover all the villages there. However, no blind and partially sighted child is found in the area rather 27 of other persons with disabilities have been identified. During the visit, when Mr. Shahi reached to the village called Chyaduk, he questioned to the villagers over there if there is any blind child in the village. One of the villagers named Katok said: “there is no blind child in our village because we eat enough green leaves and vegetables rather, there are a lot of other person with disabilities.” When Mr. Shahi explained about the project Head Mobile Blind School and its activities, he requested him to initiate programs for other disabled persons as well because there are huge number of disabled people in the district. Mr. Shahi thanked for his feedback and told him that HEAD Nepal will try its best to bring programs for other persons with disabled as well.

6. Hepka VDC

On the same day of 27th of May Mr. Shahi also visited the Gadapari village ward No. 1 under Hepka VDC where he identified two partially sighted children and four other persons with disabilities. Though this village consists of only one ward, there are three small villages. When Mr. Shahi asked to Mr. Kunga Lama a local person in the village, Kunga said that there are very few persons with disabilities in his village. He also expressed his great hope that HEAD Nepal could do a lot not only for children with visually impaired but for entire disabled community in Humla and he wished all the best for it.

7. Thehe VDC

Mr. Lok raj Shahi again alone visited one of the largest villages in Humla called Thehe on 1st of June for identification and need assessment of the person with disabilities in general and children with visually impaired in particular. Thehe VDC contains three villages where Mr. Shahi identified 4 blind and partially sighted children and 84 other disabled persons. He also had an interaction with two of the blind children themselves in Thehe village. “If anyone or any organization provides education to the child like me, they will be the God for me” said Gaugora Bohora, a 15 years old total blind girl. She also added that she used to stay at home all the time doing nothing and she has no good future and any hope out of her life at all. Afterward Mr. Lokraj Shahi told her about the up coming program of HEAD Nepal for them. She became happy and excited as soon as she heard that she will be having an opportunity to education in Head Mobile Blind School. Bohora expressed her expectation that HEAD Mobile Blind School will be an agent of change in her life. The parents of the children presented their idea that if HEAD Nepal enrolled the children in its own center and provided an opportunity of education would be the best work and effort for them and their children.

8. Chhipra VDC

Chhipra was the last VDC where our staff, Mr. Lokraj Shahi visited for two days on 5th and 6th of June for the same purpose that is to identify blind and partially sighted children and to understand over all condition of the disabled people there. There are four different villages in Chhipra VDC where Mr. shahi found three partially sighted children and 34 other persons with disabled. Some of the villagers there said that this organization, HEAD Nepal is the noble one because so far, there is no any organization and project who works for persons with disabilities. They also appreciated the the interest and effort of the founder to take the initiative of this noble venture. The parents of the children expressed their happiness towards the great opportunity of education for their children. In the same time, some of them expressed their worry on the possibility of being discontinued the activities of HEAD Nepal as many of projects do in Humla.

Report prepared in Nepali Language by Lokraj Shahi.

Translated into English by Chhitup Lama