Nepal is a land - locked country situated at the foot of the snow- capped Himalayas. It lies between China to the North and India to the South. Nepal is one of the ten poorest countries in the world.
The projects of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd are situated in Pokhara, Kaski District about 200 kms west of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The valley of Pokhara is home to thick forests, gushing rivers, attractive lakes and beautiful landscapes. It is famous for trekking and tourists flock here for this purpose. Tourism is the major source of income for Nepal.
Nepal is basically an agrarian society. The economic standard of the people, especially those living in the mountain areas is very poor. The girl child population is particularly disadvantaged with poor literacy rates and high risk of being trafficked.
This extensive project was set up in 1998 by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to provide opportunities in the areas of health, education and training for disadvantaged girls, women and those who are sick. Our main focus is on those who through their circumstances are vulnerable and in danger of being trafficked and abused. We do all we can to protect the girl children and prevent this from happening. In circumstances where we are aware that it is happening we provide rehabilitation for them.
The Services we provide at Opportunity Village include: Residential Care and Education, Health Care, Counselling Services and Vocational Training for women and children. All our efforts go into protecting and, wherever possible preventing them from entering a life of slavery. The focus of all our work in this area is to empower these young girls in every way possible to help them integrate and take their rightful place in the mainstream of Nepal society and live a dignified life.
We adopt a holistic approach to their care through education and training. We pay particular attention to their physical, mental, psychological and spiritual development.
The Good Shepherd Children’s Home is not a permanent home but a short-term residence in which an opportunity is provided for formal and non-formal education, health care, learning skills and the attainment of maturity necessary to enable the children to build successful adult lives in mainstream society.
In Nepal as whole women are subordinated and depend for their existence on the male in the family. Because of this the focus of our training for women is to establish their self- esteem through developing skills. We particularly focus on craft skills and tailoring for these women and girls, so that they can earn a living from their home and gain some economic independence. These are the preferred skills the women in the poorer communities wish to obtain. Our aim is to empower them through skill development.
We are gradually progressing with this training service and one of our Sisters who is trained in Crafts and Tailoring is providing classes in the villages and in the slums of Pokhara. As a result of this programme many women are successfully employed and are now becoming trainers themselves.
These skills are being taught by one of the original trainees who has now become a trainer and it is overseen by our professionally trained Sister.
Prison Ministry is a service which we aim to provide for the rehabilitation of the prisoners in Pokhara jail, especially women and children. Our intention is to provide counselling, health services and skill training which we believe will be of benefit to them on their release.
Surrounding land is used for the purpose of helping us to become as self-sustaining as possible. We grow whatever food we can, we keep hens, buffalo and goats, all with the purpose of helping to feed the children.
We have two income generating projects in mind for future sustainability. Bearing in mind that we have land, although not suitable for agricultural purposes, it can be used for either of the projects which we are considering:
The Aloe Vera plant is very suited to the terrain. The products from this plant are used worldwide for medicinal and cosmetic purposes and we believe that there is potentially a good market for this product.
A more favorable consideration is A Dairy Farm. We hope to stock Jersey Cows for the provision of milk to the dairies. The by products from this are many, Ghee which is very prized in Nepal, cheese making and manure for the garden and Gobar Gas for cooking. We would also have our own milk supply for the children. These cows are valued for the capacity and quality of their milk and as the people of Nepal consume a lot of milk there is already an existing market for it. We are currently looking at existing dairy farms in other regions and studying how they are operated.
The great drawback in starting these projects is the initial cost of setting them up. We believe that investment in either one would reward us substantially in the future by making us self-reliant in the provision of funding for our work.