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Literacy for a better future in Dang District

An NGO-led literacy class in Dang has paved the way for a Tharu community to increase household incomes and enabled the community to work together in new ways.

Most of the time it’s not that way: an NGO arrives with a project, and leave as soon as the project is over and within a year the community is back to the way it was before the NGO came.

In Manpur VDC, Ward 8, in Dang there is a different story. In 2002, Help Society-Nepal a local NGO from Tulsipur began a literacy and income-generation program with support from the Language Development Centre-Nepal, a Kathmandu-based NGO. The villagers learned to read and write in Tharu, their own language, and then in Nepali. Besides becoming literate the community also learned how to establish and run a community support group and how to raise money through family-based income generation activities.

In 2005, Help Society-Nepal’s support to this class came to an end. Did the class stop? No. Because this group had been empowered through the literacy and cooperative group formation they found that they were more effective when they worked together and in 2010 registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives as a Cooperative understanding that as a Cooperative they could achieve so much more then they could as individuals. The cooperative now has 23 members drawn from their community’s women, men and children’s groups.

What does their story have to teach us? NGOs and INGOs are most effective when they are enabling and not doing, because sometimes the doing doesn’t help as much as in the long run.

Pushker Kadel, the LDC Director commented, “This is exactly the kind of outcome and impact we planned for and we have seen similar results among the other 45 community groups that support the literacy classes in Dang.“

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