On April 25 2015 when the earthquake struck Nepal, Asha Budha Magar was reading the newspaper in her apartment.
“I started to feel a big movement and it felt like the walls were bending. I hid underneath the study table, but then suddenly found that the table was not above me any longer, it had moved and was not protecting my head. The collapsing houses sounded like a blast, like bombs,” said Asha.
Half a million homes were damaged, and rural communities were hit hardest. Many families lost livestock – for some their sole source of income. As the country works to recover from the earthquakes and to develop economically, young people in rural areas are increasingly turning towards establishing their own small businesses as their way to make a living.
The earthquakes exacerbated the problems already facing young people like Asha – with 40 per cent of young people in Nepal lack work opportunities. “I love my country, but things are hard for young people here,” says Asha.
In order to support other young people Asha is leading a team of volunteers from Nepal and the UK to deliver entrepreneurship training for women and young people in the district of Aambhanjang, Makwanpur.
While the team of volunteers is supporting entrepreneurs, others are working on projects to improve access to safe water and raising awareness about the importance of hygiene as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme (led by VSO and funded by the UK government).
All of this work, according to Asha, is supporting communities to withstand the economic challenges that lie ahead. “If we want to see visible change we have to make people economically independent so that they can send their children to school. I know that youth have the greatest potential in any society, and if you want to bring any positive changes then they are the best agents to achieve it,” says Asha.
Asha is not alone. After beginning operations in January, the team in Nepal have received over 300 applications from Nepali young people who want to volunteer and help build back their rural communities. “The response has been incredible,” says Priti Shrestha, Raleigh Nepal’s Youth Development Officer. “Within 10 days we received 340 applications. Young Nepali people are determined to rebuild their country - they believe in power in numbers.”
From young people working at the grassroots, to decision makers in the Nepali government, there is a growing recognition that the creativity of young people in Nepal needs to be mobilised so they can lead the future of development. “We have to work with youth and empower them so that they can take the initiative to build a harmonious global society that can bring sustainable development,” says Asha.
I like the idea of active global citizenship. I like what that means and what it promises. Every individual is unique and everyone has the capacity to become a leader. We just need to give them the right environment.
Raleigh International are looking for volunteers to stand side by side with Asha and help rural communities in Nepal to become more resilient to the challenges that lie ahead. Find out more about Raleigh International’s programmes and apply now.
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