It’s no secret to most of us that empowering women is critical for community development in any culture. But with more than a quarter of girls in developing countries not in school, we’ve still got a long way to go towards that end.
Edge of Seven, a Denver-based nonprofit that offers service-oriented travel opportunities, works to facilitate education for girls in remote regions of Nepal.
"We’re currently building a hostel for girls attending university in the Everest region," said Executive Director Sarah Andrews. "It’s the only university in the entire region, and it can take two days or longer for the girls to walk there from their villages."
The hostel is one of a number of construction projects the four-year-old organization has completed. Among these are four school buildings built for fast, easy access to the villages they serve. By eliminating long commuting times, these facilities enable more girls to receive an education. According to Sarah, families will often remove their daughters from school if the time cuts into their household responsibilities.
Sarah said Edge of Seven works with community leaders to identify why girls aren’t going to school and how to best facilitate their secondary and higher education. Studies show that girls who receive seven years or more of education marry later and have fewer children, improving economic and health outcomes for their families. Edge of Seven hopes volunteers will become lifetime advocates for empowering girls through their first-hand experience with these families.
Consider joining a two or three week trip, or customizing a group itinerary of your own. It’s an opportunity to experience both the culture and need of these remote communities. It’s also a chance to connect and invest directly in the lives of these girls.
Volunteers will experience good old fashioned manual labor, including earthbag making. This is a highly-durable, low-cost construction method involving fun activities like making gravel, filling rice bags and stacking walls. Work is often done alongside community members, and volunteers will get to stay with local families.
Not convinced it’s as fun as it sounds? Visit edgeofseven.org for more information, and check out what past volunteers have to say.