A one-hour bus ride from Pokhara, the sightseeing center for the Himalayas, Nirmalpokhari is a small mountain village 4,000 feet above sea level. The scenery is stunning. But most families are too poor to send their children to school, and young people get caught in a web of poverty, unable to expand their horizons. But a Japanese Lions club is changing that. The Fukuoka Hakata Higashi Lions Club founded Fukuoka-Nirmalpokhari School as its 30th anniversary project in 1999. Today 300 children from kindergarten to 10th grade attend the school. Fees are based on family income and half the students attend for free. Three club members recently visited the school. Students congregated around the visitors and they quickly asked, “Are you from Fukuoka?” The students know that the sky is the limit with a good education. “I want to become a medical doctor. So I am studying very hard,” a ninth-grade female student told the visitors. Villagers praise the school for the opportunities it provides. “Fukuoka School brought the village happiness,” Mayor Kamal said. The Lions also made the trek to inspect the village’s coffee plants. The club began the coffee project five years ago in order for the village to sustain the school. The club’s support of the school ends soon. “Both the country and the people of Nepal seemed to be clinging on external supports, thinking they would get help if they asked,” said Shinokuma Mitsuhiko, a Lion. “Our challenge was to lead them out of that mind-set. In order to run the school independently, the villagers had to start an industry as a source of income.” When the Lions visited, the coffee harvest was near. The successful cultivation will bear the most fruit among the village’s youths.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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