The Big Give 2021 - our best Christmas appeal ever!
On the 30th November we launched our annual Big Give Christmas appeal, this year's cause being our empowerment of women and girls in Nepal programme for 2022. This programme supports the marginalised and vulnerable women who will be in training and employment at the Lily's Leaves social enterprise in Kathmandu and helps the education of girls at the poorest schools in Province 2, southeast Nepal. The principal amongst these latter is the school at Bhatighadi, Dhanusha District, that serves the children of marginalised people who belong to the local Community Forest Users' Group that we have been funding for the past two years with such notable success. As explained in a previous post, there have been 142 children attending the school on a regular basis but most eligible children don't since the school is so dilapidated, unloved and under-resourced. Pipal Tree is working with our NGO partner, The Mithila Wildlife Trust, and the school committee to change that and we have a plan as to how go about it. See below.
Returning to the Big Give, we had set an appeal target of £100,000 with the funds to be allocated as follows:
- £40,000 towards the operation of Lily's Leaves training centre, workshop and women's hostel.
- £30,000 towards awarding contracts to Lily's Leaves to produce items for our other programmes - e.g. school rucksacks
- £10,000 towards the education and training of marginalised girls and women within Province 2, southeast Nepal.
- £10,000 towards an emergency relief fund, a reserve to be held for immediate use in the event of a natural disaster (e.g. flood or earthquake) or another COVID lockdown.
- £10,000 towards UK support costs - this is broadly in line with our very impressive track record of 90% of donations going towards our Nepal projects.
Appeal week launched with a small dinner night for new supporters at the exclusive Victory Services Club in London, kindly sponsored by our corporate supporter, Victus Ltd. This allowed us to get the appeal off to a strong start with some sizeable initial donations. After that, we were reliant on the strength of our communications to convey the high quality of our work and future needs, these delivered by email and social media. The appeal went right to the wire, with a remarkable final large donation made five minutes before the deadline of noon on the 7th December, this doubling up automatically to allow us to reach our target. It is incredible and touching that we should have achieved this success given how tough these times are financially. Indeed, we have never had a result like this in any previous Christmas appeal - last year we raised a total of £39,600 from 99 donations. This year, we had 237 donations!
A Christmas to remember at Bhatighadi School
We plan to boost the attendance and quality of education at Bhatighadi school through a number of measures. The school is attended mainly by girls because if families can afford it they will prioritise the education of their sons and send them to private schools. We want to ensure that the girls enjoy just as good an education as boys and our measures include a range of capital and revenue investments. Following grant funding by Guy's Trust, we have been able to build a computer room that is nearing completion and that should be fully operational in January 2022. We have also appointed Ms Jina Tamang as a support teacher and community liaison officer and next year we will be introducing an agriculture-based income generation programme that will offer a new, invaluable, long-term income stream for the school.
These initiatives could be termed "development", but now and again there is a place for charity - making donations that help ease the tough lives of the poorest people and their children. That's why on 21st December we delivered a consignment of woolly hats, scarves, pullovers, socks and shoes to the 150 children who have been regular attenders at the school this year. It's getting very cold on Nepal's southern plains just now and we felt that it wouldn't cost much to benefit children who were having to attend school in bare feet or, at best, wearing flip-flops. This delivery was on the advice of Jina Tamang (see film below), who said that this gesture would go a long way towards incentivising non-attenders to join school next year. For clarity, on the day before the visit we called a parents-teachers meeting (the first in the school's history!) to explain our plan and to inform the community that we would be repeating the issue to new regular attendees this time next year.
The delivery of these items caused quite a stir and a huge amount of excitement amongst the children. Most of them had never owned shoes before. See the pictures below to get a flavour of the atmosphere on a magical day. There will be even more excitement in January when we make a second delivery, this time of school rucksacks that we have ordered through Lily's Leaves, one of the contracts that the Big Give has allowed us to fund. The women at Lily's Leaves will be kept busy making 928 rucksacks for delivery to Bhatighadi school and to two other nearby schools where once again most of the students are girls.
A last chance to donate and double
Finally, at the time of writing we still have some late matching pledges available totalling £4,740 that are due to finally lapse on the 29th December. If you're able to make a last minute gift, this will automatically double in value. That would be the icing on the Christmas cake for us and we can put that towards more good use in Nepal. Just use the button below:
Thanks so much and have a great Christmas.