Dear friends,

Happy holidays! On behalf of Samaanta Foundation, I would like to wish you and your loved ones a very happy, prosperous, and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your help, support, and love to Samaanta over the past year, and indeed in the last five and a half years of our life. With your presence by our side, our fellowship has grown from providing partial support to 6 fellows in the first year to supporting 38 fellows in these years. Our current tally stands at 31 fellows, with 18 fellows completing their higher secondary education, 10 fellows pursuing their Bachelor’s degrees. Our comprehensive support coupled with the tenacity of our fellows has meant that our fellows have spent their wings beyond even Nepal, as three of our fellows are abroad pursuing various scholarships as far away as the US! Closer to home, the fellowship has grown to take not only more fellows but also more workshops and programmes, and a better, integrated model that provides the platform for Samaanta fellows to go above and beyond in achieving our goals together. I want to take this opportunity to share some news about recent developments at the Foundation.

Samaanta fellows go global

First, it gives us great pleasure to announce that Susmita, one of the fellows of Samaanta Foundation’s sixth cohort, has been offered a full scholarship to attend United World Colleges (UWC) Mostar in Bosnia next year. She becomes the fourth Samaanta fellow in four years- all girls- to be awarded this prestigious higher secondary scholarship. Susmita will be the second Samaanta fellow to attend UWC Mostar. Our first Mostar fellow, Biwastha, is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree on a full scholarship at Luther College in the US.

Susmita is currently pursuing a degree in Business Studies from VS Niketan College. Susmita was selected as a Samaanta fellow from Shree Jana Bikash Secondary School, a public school in Sindhupalchowk.

Since joining the Samaanta family, her commitment to her personal growth and passion for social change has only amplified. Her determination to improve the lives of those around her stems from her upbringing in Sindhupalchowk. Susmita aspires to be a lawyer so that she can fight against inequality. We are confident that she will excel in the UWC environment, and can’t wait to see where she goes next!

 

Secondary school success

Over the last five years, our fellows have proven our hypothesis that it is the lack of opportunity, not ability, which limits the trajectory of public school students from disadvantaged communities. As an example, our fourth cohort of fellows in the Science stream performed exceptionally well in their 12th grade final exams, achieving three distinctions and three first divisions! In a context where the national pass rate hovers at 40% at best, this response from our fellows shows that our support is already bearing significant fruit to change the narrative around education success for public school graduates.

We selected five fellows to continue from higher secondary to Bachelor’s level, and we are pleased to share that all of them have now secured impressive placements for their further studies. Dipesh and Manisha have been selected to study Computer Science and IT at St Xavier’s College, one of the most prestigious colleges in Nepal. Their achievement is all the more remarkable considering the fact that they have never owned a personal computer until this year. Pema and Sharmila have secured placements to study Business Management at Thames College, which is another fine institution with whom we have had a strong partnership over the last four years. Last but not least, Suraj was placed on the merit list for both Tribhuvan and Purbanchal Universities, and has now accepted a place at Nobel College to study Health Management on a generous scholarship. For their excellent performance over the last two years, Sharmila has been recognised with a Legal Foundation and FCFA Scholarship, and Dipesh has been awarded a Rotary Oostburg Scholarship from the Netherlands.

Fellows expand their horizon

We are working hard to develop the soft skills of our fellows to ensure that they get a rounded education as part of our fellowship. Over the last six months, we have hosted a number of workshops and seminars on goal setting, blog writing, storytelling, and social media awareness. In addition, our active reading club has provided a forum for our fellows to discuss recent events and issues such as local elections, women literacy, rural-urban disparity, and higher education. These targeted activities have not only brought our fellows together to learn in a fun-filled environment, but also allowed them to develop critical skills to plan, present, and express their ideas to further their goals.

Paying it forward through service and leadership

We expect our fellows to “pay forward” the generosity they receive from others by focusing on service and leadership in their own communities. Our fellows have been at the forefront of giving back this year.

Samaanta fellows are giving back to the Foundation itself in myriad ways. Senior fellows are now involved with the entire recruitment process, including traveling to the field; explaining the application process to students, teachers, and parents; keeping track of applications, and interviewing finalists. Similarly, four of our fellows are interning with the Foundation as Administrative Assistants, supporting our Program Manager to run the fellowship smoothly.

Perhaps more importantly, our fellows are continuing their tradition of giving back to the wider community. Last year, you might recall, our fellows got involved with the rebuilding and reconstruction of the infrastructure of a public school; as victims of the earthquake themselves, they wanted to do something to help students who had also been affected. This year, our fellows ran a two week summer camp at the same school to engage with 40 students through creative classes, music, art, and drama during their summer holidays.

Two of our fellows, Sarita and Sharmila, have now secured part time employment at Sunsar Maya, a not for profit organisation that provides education opportunities to underprivileged and orphan children through engaging after-school programs. Similarly, Manisha is now working as an intern at the Women Advocacy Development Centre. Our fellows are thus spreading our values of service, compassion, and leadership to build better, more equitable communities around them.

Join us

Samaanta Foundation is leading a movement to make quality higher education a reality for public school graduates from disadvantaged communities in rural Nepal. We provide the most comprehensive fellowships in higher education to ensure that our fellows do not only get access to but actually excel within the education system. This does not come easy, as we are extremely extended- both physically as well as financially- to realise this ambitious agenda. We only have one paid staff, our superhero Program Manager Shiri, who singlehandedly ensures that the residential fellowship runs smoothly on an everyday basis. At the same time, each year we face this reality where we find far more talented and deserving students than we can possibly support that year.

This is where you come in! We do all the hard work, but we thrive on your support and your contributions, which allow us the freedom to dream big. None of this would be possible without our partners- most notably our institutional partners Foundation Care for All (FCFA) Netherlands and Home Loan Experts (HLE) Australia. We need more support though, so we can continue this work to achieve even more. This holiday season, I am writing to you to continue your love for us by making a donation to Samaanta Foundation. I note that it costs us, all told, about USD 1800 per fellow per year, and we welcome contributions of any size to make higher education a reality for these students. We are also a registered tax-exempt organisation in the US, so your contributions are tax-deductible if you live in the US. You can make a donation here:

https://samaantafoundation.org/get-involved/make-a-donation/!

Thank you so much for your help and support so far, and, thanks to you, we are excited to take our fellows further in their journey!

Happy holiday!

Ho ho ho,

Shrochis Karki
Executive Director
Samaanta Foundation