1) to flourish, thrive
2) to prosper
About a month ago, I headed to a small Nepali village about 5 hours north of Kathmandu to work with a nonprofit called Saprinu. I was put in touch with the Maryland born founder, Brooke Laura, through the magic of mutual friends on Facebook and was excited when she invited me to come to her village to help plan the school’s end of term picnic and brainstorm ideas on how to grow the organization’s fundraising efforts.
The story of Saprinu started late in 2009, as Brooke had vacation from volunteering in a children’s home in Kathmandu and went trekking to the Langtang region. She became friends with her trekking guide Sudan Bhattarai, who invited her to his home village of Archale. Their discussions of the importance of quality education for children and the evident lack of it in many rural areas of Nepal inspired the two to take initiative. They decided to establish an English primary school at Sudan’s home village. He donated his own home building to start the school, and Brooke started raising funds for renovation and start-up of the school. Following the start-up of the school, it was evident that an organization was needed to run the school in a professional way and to raise funding. That is why the NGO Saprinu was first established in the USA. One year later, Saprinu Nepal was established in order to bridge work in the USA and Nepal and to become a legitimate entity in Nepal.
One of the most unique things about the Shining Star School, which is the school that Saprinu runs, is its progressive curriculum. While most of the government schools, which are poorly funded and rarely attended by students, have a very basic curriculum when the teachers actually show up, Saprinu offers workshops in computers, art and music. They also plan on implementing vocational training, which is of immense importance to villages like Archale. One of the problems that small villages like Archale face is what is called “brain drain”. This is the systematic migration of rural men to the city to look for work. Not only does this separate families and take hands away from the farms, it also creates an overabundance of workers for a small amount of jobs in Kathmandu. By teaching vocations that can be applied in their home village, Saprinu plans to keep families together and raise the income of villagers without them leaving for the big city.
Throughout the week, I worked with Saprinu and Sudan to brainstorm ideas on how to create consistent revenue streams that would help support the school on an ongoing basis. The major project currently on the Saprinu agenda is raising funds, approximately $60,000, to construct a new and proper school building. Since the current school is also Sudan’s home, it is becoming too small as an additional grade of students is added each year. The costs are mostly for the land, labor and raw materials. Raising this amount of money is a difficult task, so it’s really important for the organization to build relationships with local companies and other NGO’s to raise the funds.
I set off for the week feeling that I would somehow make a difference in these kid’s lives. But as the case always seems, I ended up getting a lot more out of the experience than what I gave. Besides making lifelong friends and spending a week in a rural village in Nepal, which is a life enriching experience on its own, I learned so much from Brooke and her business partner Tiina. What I admire so much about Brooke is her selflessness… I have never seen anything like it. From watching her work with the children to creating game plans to raise money, it was always about the organization, and never about her. She has dedicated herself to the organization and plans to spend the rest of her life living in Nepal and building schools for those in need. She is the female version of Greg Mortensen (without the scandals). I feel blessed that I was able to spend a week working with Saprinu, as it definitely gave me a new perspective on what it means to have a life calling, and seeing someone with the fortitude to follow those passions was truly inspiring.
“Ryan, this is such a great story and organization! How can I help?” Well, my dear readers, that is a great question and I am glad you asked. Please visit their website at www.Saprinu.org to learn more about the organization, and if you have the financial means to do so, please donate generously to this most important cause. And if you don’t have the money but still want to get involved, you can email Brooke at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is always looking for bright people with good ideas.
Writing this blog makes me think I should try to do one selfless act tomorrow, even if it’s small. Because in the end, they all add up.