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Changing Lives in Nepal by Amanda Brown ’15

By Contributing Writer on August 12, 2014

I’m Amanda Brown ‘15 and I’m a Peace and Conflict Studies major with a minor in Religion. Last semester I studied human rights in Nepal, Jordan, and Chile and conducted a comparative fieldwork study on girls’ access to education. Since returning, I’ve been in New York City starting up Children and Youth First USA (CYFUSA), a registered 501(c)(3) working alongside our parent organization CYF in Nepal. Together we fund the Life Vision Academy for underprivileged children, which currently provides a safe home and progressive education to 37 students from across Nepal. With Theresa Solinger ’15 and Samantha Berlin ’15 on the team, the three of us at CYFUSA are working to improve and expand Life Vision Academy.

We passionately share the belief that a person’s income, family history, and environment should not be a barrier to his or her education. All of our students come from challenging family backgrounds, and all of our girls are the first of their families to receive a full education. When I visited Life Vision for the first time, the energy and potential of the students instantly captivated me. These kids are the future of Nepal, and they are building the confidence and life skills to transform their post-conflict society into a safe, just, and prosperous new Nepal.

Our organization also involves a women’s empowerment cooperative, which helps disadvantaged women in the Kathmandu Valley build economic independence and social strength through knitting together. It is called Haushala, which means “encouragement” in Nepali. Their handcrafted merchandise has already been worn across four continents, and many of the women maintain that the social empowerment they’ve gained is even more rewarding than the financial security. Between Life Vision Academy and the Haushala cooperative, CYF provides infinite possibilities for changing lives in Nepal.

Our outreach so far has included small-scale fundraisers, community presentations, and various social media platforms. We will also be entering the Thought Into Action Student Incubator in September. Over the next year, we want to increase our influence and expand our reach as much as possible, creating a network of supporters who can help us spread word of our mission and projects. We also want to plan and execute diverse fundraising events and increase the amount of retail partners selling Haushala merchandise. It would be extremely helpful to connect with any Colgate alumni with expertise in related areas, such as but not limited to: international education, global development projects, NGO administration and fundraising, children’s and women’s rights, or free trade business administration. If interested in contributing financially to our mission, any gift to our registered 501(c)(3) is tax-deductible and will directly benefit our school expansion project, listed at www.gofundme.com/cyfusa. We would also greatly appreciate publicity or press through any alum’s social or professional networks.

Thank you so much for your time, and we look forward to your support!

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