2019 – Our Year in Review
As we start a new year, it is important to celebrate our achievements, and recognise that when people take action, individually and collectively, positive change does happen.
Thanks to the ongoing support of our donors, we have made great steps forward in 2019 and we’d like to share some highlights with you.
BTO in Nepal
Working with our in-country partners in Nepal, Sano Paila and Star Children, we welcomed new children into our dedicated family homes; rolled out EmPower a new program to help the kids with computer literacy; conducted child protection and trauma counselling training; and expanded our work to aid hearing impaired and deaf children in the country’s north.
Welcoming new kids to Courtney House
We opened this house at the end of 2018 and by March 2019 we had ten children, ranging in age from 3 to 15 years, living together in this dedicated family home. Most of the children are now enrolled in school, and a number have undergone trauma counselling – it is hard to hear about what these children have been through, but knowing they are now safe, loved and cared for gives us the courage to continue this important work.
EmPower-ing children for a brighter future
In August, thanks to the generosity of Cliniko, we began the roll out of our new EmPower program. Cliniko provided laptops and ongoing training for the kids in Nepal, including teaching them how to code!
Vikram (above) is the program’s Project Manager. He was born, and grew up, in Birgunj. He’s worked internationally as a physics researcher including at Geneva’s ATLAS Experiment at CERN, the largest particle physics lab in the world! Vikram has recently returned to Nepal. He is passionate about finding innovative solutions to some of the big social issues facing his country. He’s an advocate for education and women’s rights. On the weekends he volunteers at the local school as an English teacher. We are super lucky to have him working with us on this important initiative.
Supporting Hearing-Impaired Children in Nepal
In December we embarked on a new program where we are working with our new in-country partner RHERI to improve the lives of more than 40 children who are deaf or hearing impaired. Many have other disabilities too.
It is early stages for this program, but we are already making an impact. In October we have raised funds to increase the number of meals the children are receiving daily and improve the nutrition. Most were only having two meals a day!
The next thing we need to do is secure funds for a school bus to safely transport the kids to school. In Nepal, children go to school six days a week. These kids were having to walk 10 kilometres there and back each day along a main road. You might have seen pictures of the chaotic traffic in countries like Nepal. With no sidewalks or safe places to cross, it is dangerous for a person with functional hearing to walk along the road. Imagine what it must be like a child who can’t hear the traffic!
We have undertaken a thorough assessment of this program and have lots of ideas for improvements. It’s exciting to work with these children and help them towards a brighter future.
In December we secured a grant from Community Underwriting Small Grants Program to help fund a sign teacher at the secondary school. This means the children now have a dedicated teacher that can sign with them. Before they had to sit at the front of the class and use visual techniques and observation to understand the subject matter. We are very thankful for Community Underwriting’s support. Without this resource, these children would struggle to receive an education.
Nepal & Kenya Scholarships – Education is Freedom
In 2019 we celebrated the achievements of our scholarship program graduates. You might recall in June we introduced you to graduates Anshu and Anjan. The pair has embarked on their respective careers as an assistant laboratory technician and a surveyor in Nepal.
Scholarships are not only for formal education. We also give scholarships to help young people become independent, active members of the community who can productively contribute to society.
Kenya Scholarship to Start New Business
After his mother died when he was 15, Ian (left) ended up living on the streets of Nairobi. He became a regular at our drop-in centre and was keen to improve his situation. He’s now 19 years old. Last year he applied for a scholarship to start his own chicken farming business. In Kenya chicken farming is a secure way to earn a living. We granted him a scholarship and his grandmother gave him a small piece of family land in Kirinyaga. This is a great outcome for Ian who is now back in the country which he says “is a dream. This will help me in my life and also help me to care for my grandmother.” Ian is being mentored by our in-country partner Alfajiri. In December he sold his first chickens. Ian is very enterprising and intends to diversify and buy goats with the profits from the sale of his chickens.
Nepal Scholarship Enables Independence
Sanu (above) is a talented seamstress and loves designing bags. She joined our program when she was 9 years old and has recently completed high school. In 2019, a generous donor provided a scholarship to allow Sanu to continue her training.
The scholarship also enabled Sanu to buy an electric sewing machine of her own. “I want to be a totally independent girl and after this training I will have a certain income for myself. I am so thankful to everyone,” she says.
If you would like to donate a scholarship and transform a life, please click here.
Child Protection and Trauma Counselling in Nepal and Kenya
While much of the work we do is front-facing, training in-country is an important aspect of our ongoing capacity building of the partner organisations we work with. In 2019 we ran child protection and gender equity training in Nepal and also conducted trauma counselling sessions in Kenya. These are ongoing responsibilities to ensure that our in-country partners are working to best practice. Training also ensures all programs and operations are inclusive and meet the standards enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We also ran child protection training with all the kids to ensure they are aware of their rights.
Caring for Street Children in Kenya
The work we do with our in-country partner in Kenya, Alfajiri, enables street children to discover that they do have choices for their future. The drop-in centre runs a variety of services so that these street kids can start to heal. Social workers help them into rehabilitation programs and we also have trauma counsellors. There are recreational activities too such as dancing, art classes and martial arts that help to get the kids off the street.
Monstapals – Playing for Good
In December we partnered with app developer Anomaly a cutting-edge technology company. Its “Playing for Good” programme supports charitable endeavours that uplift the lives of under privileged children. Anomaly is donating one-third of the sales from its Monstapals app to BTO.
Monstapals is aimed at pre-schoolers and the young at heart. It is designed to educate the player about Australian animals and to test their creativity too. The app lets you make new types of animals – Monstapals!
If you haven’t downloaded the app, please visit:
There is still a long way to go to eradicate things like child labour and trafficking, but every child we rescue, every child we bring into the BTO family, every child we empower through education, love and support, is a child who will grow into a self-reliant adult. In elevating the individual, we also help to affect generational change.
We can’t do this important work without you. Thank you so much for your support in 2019 and we look forward to doing great things together in 2020.