Even though my soul has been torn, here I am laughing. Even though my very being is in fragments, I have somehow survived. As long as there is one drop of blood in my body, Until life’s last instant, I will always foster this love. When I die I will be thinking of it – my education. But now it is just a dream that cannot become reality. If I was a flower, I would bloom, but I cannot for all of the thorns. If my love was for anything else I could forget it. I cannot forget my desire to learn, and the road is covered in thorns. How can I laugh with my heart so filled with a love for learning? How can I laugh?
This poem was written by a 14 year old ‘untouchable’ caste child porter from Western Nepal. Santaki’s desire to learn is shared by tens of thousands of children working as child porters across Nepal’s remote middle hills. One of the most rewarding aspects of our work at Porters’ Progress this year has been our ability to provide hundreds of these amazing children with the opportunity to laugh, to grow, and to learn.
This past year has been our most successful and rewarding to date. We attribute our success, in no small part, to the very generous support provided by all of our institutional partners, dozens of foreign volunteers, hundreds of Nepali supporters and friends, and thousands of determined and capable porters. Through working together, we have been able to remain agile and meet the changing needs of porters in what has become an increasingly tumultuous time.
Tragically, Nepal’s political climate has continued to deteriorate rapidly – during the past year, the democratic government was usurped by King Gyanendra in a ‘bloodless coup’ that was followed by a wave of arrests, executions, and a clampdown upon the press and human rights advocacy groups. The Maoist rebellion has also increased in violence and scope, and Nepal has the unfortunate distinction of being home to the largest number of ‘disappeared’ persons in the world. Human rights abuses are rampant, thousands of children are being recruited as child soldiers, and the country’s economy is in turmoil. Our strategy of involvUntitled Even though my soul has been torn, here I am laughing. Even though my very being is in fragments, I have somehow survived. As long as there is one drop of blood in my body, Until life’s last instant, I will always foster this love. When I die I will be thinking of it – my education. But now it is just a dream that cannot become reality. If I was a flower, I would bloom, but I cannot for all of the thorns. If my love was for anything else I could forget it. I cannot forget my desire to learn, and the road is covered in thorns. How can I laugh with my heart so filled with a love for learning? How can I laugh? Santaki B.K. ing porters and local community members in all aspects of our work has allowed us to adapt quickly and work within an increasingly unstable environment. We have found ourselves becoming advocates for children suffering from police abuse, educators on landmine avoidance, and the only organization still actively working with communities in the remote Eastern district of Khotang. We have also begun to strengthen our partnerships with tour operators and the Nepal Tourism Board to help bring basic human rights and true sustainability into the trekking industry.
This coming year looks bright for us at Porters’ Progress, despite all of the political uncertainty. We will continue on our quest to bring development and education to porter communities, to bring justice and equity to working porters, and to involve people from across the world to join us in our mission. We are eager to start new projects with the Canadian International Development Agency and World Education.
Thanks again to all of our volunteers, friends, and supporters.
Clothing Lending Program
This coming year looks bright for us at Porters’ Progress, despite all of the political uncertainty. We will continue on our quest to bring development and education to porter communities, to bring justice and equity to working porters, and to involve people from across the world to join us in our mission. We are eager to start new projects with the Canadian International Development Agency and World Education.Our Clothing Lending Program was the first program PPN started upon our founding in 2000. We began with twelve jackets, and now our inventory has grown to include more than 700. In addition to jackets, we are able to offer trekking porters with warm pants, shoes, sunglasses, hats, gloves, and other equipment in return for a 1,000 rupee refundable deposit. This essential protective equipment has saved innumerable porters from cold, frostbite, and death while working at altitude. We have received much generous support from many individual and corporate donors including Patagonia, Kayland Boots, Eureka! tents, Nikwax, and Crazy Creek Chairs. We are most grateful for their support, and are eager to continue with this successful program in the coming years.
Total Porters Outfitted July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005, Kathmandu: 508, Lukla: 1,164, Total: 1,672
Drop In Centers:
On any given day, one will find dozens of porters in our offices singing, dancing, reading, and socializing. Our porter outreach program centers around creating a safe and attractive space for porters in each of our offices. Porters are free to come at any time during office hours, and we offer daily educational and entertainment programs at no cost. Our drop-in-centers serve as a springboard for all of our programs, and allow us to reach porters with crucial information and education, to receive feedback on our performance, and to build solidarity among the portering community.
Drop In Center Attendance: July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005 Kathmandu: 1,740, Nagarjun: 1,755, Lukla: 5,533, Total Drop In Center Attendance: 9,028
Porter Education Program
We offer daily English language and other educational programs from the Drop-In Centers in all three of our offices. These classes are typically taught by foreign volunteers and PPN staff. We also offer frequent empowerment, experiential education, and sport programs for porters as a means of boosting self-confidence and team spirit. The numbers below represent ‘porter visits’ – which is one porter attending one education class.
Number of Education Classes and Attendance: July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005, Class Type Attendance Health Safety/ 1st Aid 39, English Language 217, Environmental Edu. 250, Total: 719
HIV/AIDS and STI Prevention Program:
The UN predicts that HIV/AIDS will be the leading cause of death among young adults in Nepal within the next ten years. Porters, being highly mobile, are especially vulnerable to the deadly virus. Our porter-run HIV/AIDS and STI prevention program has exceeded all of our expectations. In coordination with Community Welfare Center, we have been able to provide thousands of porters with lifesaving education both through our Drop-in Centers (DIC), our offices, and our peer educator program. We are confident that we have made strides towards reducing the spread of this deadly disease, and will continue our vigilance in the coming year. We have combined this program with our ILO activities, and our statistics for our Lukla-based HIV/AIDS advocacy work are listed in that section of this report.
HIV/AIDS Sensitization, Condom Distribution, and STI Treatment: July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005 Lukla Sensitization Total Attendance: 907, Kathmandu Sensitization Total Attendance: 262, Total Condoms Distributed: 20,454, Porters Referred for STI Treatment: 26
This program has been running for two years as a means of providing porters with identification while at work, and to lay the foundation for bringing the portering industry into the formal economy. We have modified this program this year, and have begun to issue new logbooks to registered porters. The logbooks are used by porters to record the number of treks they participate in, the location and duration of treks, and other details. There is also a section for recommendations from trekkers.
Total Porters Registered July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005 Total: 710, Logbooks Distributed: 231
Every afternoon during the trekking seasons, we screen the BBC Documentary Carrying the Burden from our office in Lukla to trekkers and Nepalis. This awareness-raising program ties into our Cottage Industry Program, where we sell goods and handicrafts manufactured by porters in their home villages during the off-seasons.
Total Documentary Screening Attendance: July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005
Total Attendance (Foreigners and Nepalis): 2,535
Rock Climbing and Experiential Education:
We have recently discovered the amazing rock climbing that surrounds our office in Lukla, and have developed a program that encourages child and adult porters to develop leadership and teambuilding skills through experiential education exercises and rock climbing. We also worked with a group of elite young American climbers to make a film that chronicles the experiences of a few of our child porters as they learn and share experiences with some of the best climbers in the world. To learn more and to find purchasing information, please see – ww.karmaclimbing.com
Rock Climbing/ Experiential Education Participation July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005
Total Participants: 123
International Labor Organization Action Program:
This past year, PPN continued to implement our ILO Action Program with significant success, despite challenges posed by the political situation. We were credited as ‘one of the most promising NGOs in Nepal by the ILO, and our child labor work this past year has inspired us to pursue more means of reaching working children in Nepal. The ILO project was very wide in scope, and a short summary of our accomplishments follows:
Summary of ILO Action Program: July 17, 2004 – July 16, 2005 · 5,000 baseline surveys of child porters have been completed in coordination with World Education. 31 Women’s micro-finance groups have been formed with a total of 516 members and a combined savings of nearly 115,000 rupees. · Attendance lists have been kept for 18 sensitization meetings with local employers, community members, and porters. · Reconstruction of 5 local schools has begun, with visual documentation taken of the process. 2 Schools have completed reconstruction. · 7 new Parent Teacher Associations have been managing school affairs with a total of 77 members. · We have offered summer-long English Language and Basic Literacy classes to 20 child porters in Lukla. · 15 Signboards advocating fair treatment of porters and child laborers have been placed across Eastern Nepal with a estimated viewership of over 130,000 people. · Landmine awareness classes have been provided for 794 child porters, and we have provided research assistance to the Geneva Center for Humanitarian Demining and UNICEF.
Our work has been made possible by the generous contributions of many individuals and organizations. We are most grateful for their ongoing support. A special thanks to the following supporters:
Porters’ Progress, USA
Porters’ Progress, UK
The International Labor Organization
The Mountain Institute
Kina Social Ventures
The Cottonwood Foundation
Geneva International Centre
for Humanitarian Demining
Community Welfare Centre
The International Porter Protection Group
Eureka! Tents (An Everest Supporter!)
Crazy Creek Chairs
Darjeeling Restaurant, Lukla