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Education • Nepal • 2021
“I want to go to school and visit the Learning Centre again.” Chimini

From the mountains to the streets

Life was never easy for 15-year-old Chimini’s family. In their mountainous village, lack of income and opportunities drew her parents to Kathmandu, in search of a better life, where they both found work as daily workers on construction sites. Although this provided some income, it was not enough to support Chimini and her three siblings. As the family struggled to survive in a new city, her mother began working a second job as an on-call housemaid. Soon after, Chimini’s older sisters joined her just to help provide for the family’s basic needs.

Even with five jobs between her parents and older sisters, the family was still struggling. Chimini was in and out of school, balancing her attendance with looking after her baby brother. Her parents didn’t value her education and soon encouraged her to begin contributing to the family income by finding work on the streets.

Scraping a wage on the streets

Before long, Chimini had left school completely and was spending her days finding casual jobs at local tea shops and catering companies as a pot washer. It didn’t earn a lot, but it helped the family and relieved some of the pressure Chimini felt to earn and contribute to the household. “I felt unhappy when my parents didn’t have enough money for food,” she says. Throughout all these difficulties however, Chimini never lost her desire to learn. She loved learning new things from the friends she’d made on the streets and one day, she was invited to attend an activity at Toybox’s partner’s Learning Centre in Kathmandu. Before long, she was a regular attendee and was getting ready to enrol in school. Even her mum was supporting her and beginning to learn the benefits of Chimini gaining an education through specific time set aside with a social worker.

Hope amidst the pandemic

Then, the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world. Life was turned upside down as lockdowns made work impossible for Chimini and her family. Money became scarce so the family had little to live off, and Chimini’s education was on hold once more as she couldn’t go to the Learning Centre. Thankfully however, her involvement at the Learning Centre meant Toybox’s partner, SathSath, were able to support her and her family with some of the basic needs throughout the most difficult times. Relief packages, including food, soap and masks, kept the family afloat and regular phone conversations meant up-to-date advice on how to avoid getting ill was available to Chimini. She also received a school stationery pack so she could continue learning at home and keep on top of her homework assignments.

When the pandemic is over, Chimini says, “I want to go to school and visit the Learning Centre again.”

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