A group of Musahar Dalit villagers look on as a teenage girl speaks to NYF President Som Paneru

Caste Equality Project

Launching Summer 2022


NYF’s long-term Caste Equality Project is our most ambitious and daring undertaking yet. Our goal is to empower Nepali Dalit communities to access the opportunities and resources they need to build towards the futures they envision for themselves and their children.

Like our Empowering Freed Kamlaris program of 2000-2020we expect this work to take a generation or moreOur full Caste Equality Project will combine lessons learned across our organization’s 30+ year history, providing on-the-ground interventions in Dalit communities who have endured the worst oppressions of all.

The challenges confronted by Nepal’s Dalit communities are complex and tightly woven with every aspect of life, from pre-natal care to early nutrition to educational opportunities to childhood friendships to housing stability and onward.

The Caste Equality Project will eventually include:

All the while, we’ll be encouraging change at higher levels in Nepal—first by championing human rights lawyers from the Dalit community in Phase 1, and developing further interventions in partnership with allies within the Dalit Rights community.

What We’re Doing

Stay tuned—we’ll be updating this page as this program develops!

Phase 1: Educating Dalit Lawyers (launching Summer 2022)

Educating Dalit Lawyers (or EDL) is an enriched law school scholarship program designed especially for graduating high schoolers from Nepal’s Dalit community, formerly known as the “untouchable” castes. These young people are hoping to become human rights lawyers who will eventually fight for the rights of Dalits in Nepal’s courts. Learn more here.

Casteism in Nepal


Like other entrenched systems of oppression throughout the world, Nepal’s caste system has a complex history.

For many centuries, changing political regimes worked to unify the Himalayan civilizations that would eventually become the Nepal we know today. A strict social hierarchy developed across this diverse population, rooted in the spiritual practices of Hinduism.

This “caste system” ranked families, ethnic groups, and communities based on their occupations, and strict laws solidified and enforced this oppressive social order. A person’s caste was—and still is—permanent.

Dalits are in the lowest of these castes and make up over 13% of Nepal’s population—around 4 million individuals. At least 42% of Nepal’s Dalits (over double the national average) live below the country’s poverty line of only $166 per year.

Caste-based discrimination was formally outlawed in Nepal in 1963 (with renewed commitment from parliament in 2006), but due to structural inequality, historical oppression, widespread tradition, and cultural bias, Dalits in Nepal face social, economic, cultural, religious, and political marginalization. Hate crimes and acts of violence often go unprosecuted, and many in these communities experience severe limitations in educational access, employment, housing opportunities, and health care.

Discrimination is worst in rural regions, but even in Nepal’s urban areas, where the culture has changed more rapidly towards a more merit-based model, stories still abound of shocking injustices experienced by those born into Dalit families.

The Dalit Rights Movement


Since at least the mid-1800s, social reformers in India and Nepal have become increasingly vocal against casteist injustice. Many in the United States and other Western countries will most quickly recognize the name Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)—a lawyer known for nonviolent civil rights activism and the Indian fight against British colonial rule, and for inspiring activists worldwide, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. One of Gandhi’s major goals was the eradication of untouchability, which he called a great evil. (Gandhi’s efforts were not universally embraced in the Dalit rights community. Like any social movement confronting complex systems of oppression, the process of dismantling casteism is complicated, both within the movement and outside of it. Learn more here.)

Legal protections, justice, and progress towards equality for Dalits have been hard-won, with the journeys of these movements differing in each country and each community impacted by casteism. Most information available to Westerners about the caste system is specific to India, as most of the world’s Dalits live there. However, many of the issues facing Nepali Dalits are distinct. At NYF, we’re grateful to have our all-Nepali team to guide our efforts!

The COVID-19 pandemic has made social injustices more starkly visible across the world, and social media has given communities a stronger ability to organize themselves—especially younger generations. Young Dalits are pushing back, inspired in part by the American #BlackLivesMatter protests in the summer of 2020 and beyond.

This “Dalit Lives Matter” movement has seen advocacy initiatives gain strength in both India and Nepal, with court cases involving violence against Dalits receiving unprecedented national attention.

Many of the most successful court cases are presented by lawyers who are themselves members of the Dalit castes—lawyers who personally understand the experiences of their clients, and are prepared to argue their cases with devastating precision and clarity. But in Nepal today, only about 200 Dalit lawyers exist. That’s only 0.001% of the Dalit community. Of the judges serving in Nepal, only .01% are Dalit. Dalits are drastically underrepresented at all levels of Nepal’s government.

Now, with young Dalits across Nepal uniting to push back against systemic oppression, the stage is set for unprecedented social transformation—and NYF is perfectly positioned to support the work of these impassioned young activists.



As always, NYF is developing this project in partnership with local grassroots NGOs, Dalit rights advocates, and community members—a proven approach for ensuring far-reaching, sustainable social change.

Here are a few of the partners helping to ensure we work as effectively as possible:


  • Dignity Initiative is a Dalit-led NGO based in Kathmandu, advocating for the rights of the Dalit community through research, activism, policy advocacy, youth empowerment as well as critical engagement in public debate. They are partnering with NYF on Phase 1: Educating Dalit Lawyers. Learn more by visiting our Phase 1 program page!


New partners will be added to this page as the Caste Equality Project grows.

Learn More

The Dalit Rights Movement and the push against casteism have been in the news frequently in Nepal recently. If you’d like to learn more, here is some coverage written by Nepalis and published in English.

Himalayan Times, June 5th, 2022, “Caste Discrimination Still Entrenched,” by Ram Kumar Kamat – an overview of casteist discrimination and the ways law enforcement is failing to protect Dalits.

A wooden gavel is pictured from above, resting on a light grey marble surface.

Educating Dalit Lawyers

Introducing Phase 1 of the Caste Equality Project

Launched Summer 2022

Educating Dalit Lawyers (or EDL) is an enriched law school scholarship program designed especially for graduating high schoolers from Nepal’s Dalit community, formerly known as the “untouchable” castes.

These bright young scholars have grown up watching their communities and families experiencing caste-based discrimination and injustice. From their earliest days, they’ve heard damaging messages about themselves, and have endured small and large acts of systemic oppression. Each knows countless stories of violence, neglect, and exploitation of people just like them.

But this rising generation of young people is eager to push back—and NYF is determined to empower them to do so!

We’re combining our successful experience with Empowering Freed Kamlaris and our strong reputation as a committed scholarship provider to support young Dalit students hoping to become human rights lawyers.

Students in this program will receive:

  • Full-ride scholarship support as they pursue Nepal’s 5-year Bachelor of Legislative Law, or LLB, degree (the degree required to become a lawyer in Nepal) in some of Nepal’s best colleges;
  • Accommodation and food stipends;
  • Extracurricular opportunities including fieldwork and participation in human rights programs;
  • Mentorship opportunities with successful human rights lawyers;
  • Leadership training;
  • Opportunities to observe Nepal’s legal system in action;
  • Introductions to legislators and other Nepali leaders;
  • Internship placement support.

Support will continue as students prepare for and sit for the Nepali Bar Exam.

(Update: December 13th, 2022)

COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 caused significant disruption to Nepal’s educational system – especially the nationwide standardized testing schedule. Some of the impacts of this disruption are still ongoing, which, for our EDL students, meant that the competitive law school entrance exam was delayed for several months!

Our students have taken this delay in stride, eagerly taking advantage of the extended study time and enjoying the opportunity to become more familiar with life in Kathmandu.

We’re pleased to report that the students finally sat for this exam early in December. They are now waiting for their scores to appear, hopefully by mid-January. At that stage, we’ll be able to share some of the stories of the students who are receiving this full, enriched scholarship!


(Update: August 3rd, 2022)

The student selection process is finally complete! 22 students have been selected and placed in hostels in Kathmandu to prepare for the law school entrance examination. Our hope is that at least 15 of these students will score enough to be eligible to enter into law school. On August 2nd, NYF held an orientation and introduction program at Olgapuri Village. We’re so excited to get started!

22 selected students attend the Educating Dalit Lawyers orientation ceremony. Som Paneru (NYF President) speaks at the Educating Dalit Lawyers orientation ceremony.


(Update: July 8th, 2022)

This program is in the application assessment phase. We have received over 100 applications from hopeful students from all seven of Nepal’s provinces. Our applicants have come from a strong mix of male and female candidates, with individuals coming from a wide variety of Dalit subcastes.

An assessment committee is now working through these applications. The committee is comprised of two NYF staff members, two Dignity Initiative members, and one unaffiliated education member, using a strict method of determining who our scholarship recipients will be. We are deeply committed to ensuring we balance all factors as equitably as possible as we make our selections, bearing in mind the unique strengths, challenges, triumphs, obstacles, and aptitudes of each candidate.

Our team will select 20 students who will come to Kathmandu to prepare to take Nepal’s rigorous law school entrance exam. The top 15 students will receive the full scholarship.

We do not yet have photos or stories to share for this program. We look forward to sharing more later in the summer and in the fall!

Educating Dalit Lawyers is just the beginning of a larger project that has been in the making since before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Learn more about our ambitious Caste Equality Project here!

Dignity Initiative


NYF is launching Educating Dalit Lawyers in partnership with Dignity Initiative, a Dalit-led NGO based in Kathmandu.

Dignity Initiative is devoted to advocating for the rights of the Dalit community through research, activism, policy advocacy, youth empowerment as well as critical engagement in public debate. The organization prides itself on providing Dalit Rights groups with appropriate data, evidence, and policy insights on key issues related to the Dalits.

Dignity Initiative was established by Dalit academics, researchers, writers and activists. The team is inclusive in terms of gender and caste/region within Dalit community.


Your Support

Support for the Educating Dalit Lawyers program has been overwhelming during this launching phase. Thank you! This program is fully-funded through the first year (fall 2022-summer 2023), but we will need continuing support as the program grows.

NYF is always in need of unrestricted funding to ensure all of our programs are able to run smoothly, including those that are fully funded. If you would like to make a gift that makes an immediate impact, please make your donation without specifying a program.

If you would like to support Educating Dalit Lawyers in particular, we welcome your support!  Your EDL donation will provide a strong foundation for fall 2023-summer 2024!

NYF is currently raising funds in support of Educating Dalit Lawyers. One year of support for each student in this program costs approximately $4,000. To support these determined students, please donate now!

When asked “Where would you like your gift to have the most impact?”, write “Educating Dalit Lawyers.”


Learn More


If you’d like to learn more about the court cases currently inspiring the Dalit Rights Movement, here are a few English-language resources to help you get started.

Please note that the stories below are only a few of the highest-profile cases—those receiving sufficient media coverage to be translated for publication in English. They represent a small fraction of the incidents of violence and discrimination faced by Nepal’s Dalit communities.

These are the kinds of cases our young law students are hoping to tackle in Nepal’s courts.


Rupa Sunar vs. Saraswati Pradhan: In Kathmandu in 2021, journalist Rupa Sunar was approved for an apartment, but the offer allegedly fell through when landlady Saraswati Pradhan learned Sunar belongs to a Dalit caste. This case is working its way through Nepal’s courts.

The Rakum West Massacre, 23 May 2020: Be warned, coverage of this crime is graphic and difficult to read. In a hilly region of Nepal, 21-year-old Nabaraj BK (a Dalit) and his 17-year-old girlfriend (from a higher caste) planned to elope against her family’s wishes. The groom’s 18-person wedding procession was ambushed on the way to the bride’s home in a nearby town. Survivors from this attack report that the bride’s entire village participated. When the police arrived on the scene, the 12 seriously-injured members of the wedding procession were arrested and interrogated. None of their attackers were detained or questioned. Only when members of Nabaraj BK’s village arrived to search for their loved ones did the police acknowledge the severity of the incident. Six young men (four of them Dalits) had been stoned to death and thrown in a river, including Nabaraj BK. There is evidence of an attempted cover-up by local police. Only after external pressure from the surrounding areas, and at the endless insistence of the families of those murdered, did the police begin an investigation. The incident was investigated by an external team sent by the national government. Thirty-four people have had charges filed against them, including members of the would-be bride’s family and elected village leaders. As of mid-2022, these cases are working their way through the courts.

Caste Based Discrimination Sees No Decline: Reflections on caste-based violence before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dalit Killings Spark Outrage: Be warned, this article discusses graphic violence, including cases involving children. A Nepali journalist discusses high-profile cases involving casteist violence and speaks of the intersections with the Black Lives Matter movement amid the nationwide lockdowns.




NYF's COVID-19 Response

A brief overview of COVID-19 in Nepal; and NYF’s strong responses to it.

This page is a developing piece. Last updated: 7/13/2022.

Jump to most recent update.

On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Not too long after, on April 4th, 2020, Nepal confirmed its first locally-transmitted case of COVID-19. Since then, NYF has launched five emergency programs in response to the pandemic (Community Nutrition Kitchens, The Emergency Lifeline Halfway Home, Access to Education, Lito for Life, and our very own COVID Isolation Center).

Thanks to our dedicated team in Nepal and loving support from the wider NYF community, these programs have been an incredible success. Chiri Babu Maharjan, Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, has commended NYF “for its outstanding services since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal, and for the well-facilitated quarantine and COVID Isolation Center in partnership with Lalitpur.”

NYF’s swift and effective response to the deadly surge of the Delta variant in April 2021 has also been highlighted by BBC World News.

NYF remains incredibly grateful for our community of supporters, and for our amazing team in Nepal. Thank you all for being so patient, supportive, and generous during these challenging times. Whether you joined us recently or have been here with us since the beginning of this pandemic: Dhanyabad.

A quick look at our collective impact:


people sheltered via The Emergency Halfway Home


education centers opened via Access to Education


kg of Lito flour distributed through Lito for Life


hot meals served through Community Nutrition Kitchens


patients treated at NYF's COVID Isolation Center

Our Pandemic Timeline

March 10, 2020

The World Health Organization declares coronavirus a pandemic

Travel bans are issued. NYF Founder Olga Murray sadly departs Kathmandu and returns home to Sausalito, California.

March 18, 2020

NYF’s programs are paused

  • Programs in Nepal are restricted to ensure the health and safety of our staff and the people in our care. K-12 schools in Nepal close, with colleges and universities to follow later in the week.
  • Olgapuri Children’s Village goes into lockdown, the vocational school training program is suspended, and the main Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH) closes temporarily.
  • A shelter-in-place order is announced for six Bay Area counties, and NYF U.S. staff in California begins to work remotely. Learn more about this update here.
March 23, 2020

Nepal issues a country-wide lockdown

  • Nepal’s strict, nation-wide lockdown goes into effect on March 24, 2020. Both China and India close their borders to Nepal, leaving the small land-locked country with skyrocketing prices for food, medicine, and other essentials.
  • Olgapuri Children’s Village continues its own very strict lockdown to ensure that all 77 of the children who live there are safe. The children find creative ways to learn and stay active with help from their live-in house parents.
  • Learn more about life during lockdown at Olgapuri here.


April 29, 2020

Global cases pass 3 million; 57 confirmed cases in Nepal

  • Nepal’s country-wide lockdown is extended to last another month.
  • NYF’s four trained counselors at Ankur Counseling Center continue to provide essential services over the internet and the telephone. Their workload is increasing significantly as they try to reach families suffering from increased domestic violence (a side-effect of lockdown conditions).
  • Click here to read more about their important work during these months.
June 7, 2020

NYF launches first COVID-19 program: Community Nutrition Kitchens


June 17, 2020

NYF launches second COVID program: an emergency shelter for women


June 28, 2020

Nepal’s hunger crisis is featured in the New York Times

  • “Nepal families face hunger, skip meals as pandemic hits remittances,” writes journalist Gopal Sharma. For the months since the lockdown began, individuals have not been able to work. Forced into tough decisions between rent and food, many are going hungry.
  • Read the article on Reuters here.
July 1, 2020

NYF launches third COVID program: Lito for Life

  • In response to the hunger crisis caused by the lockdown, NYF begins distributing packets of Lito — a type of ‘super flour’ made of roasted and ground corn, wheat, and soybeans — to keep urban families nourished.
  • Read more about NYF’s Lito for Life program.


July 20, 2020

Nepal’s country-wide lockdown is lifted

  • Though the government has relaxed its restrictions, Olgapuri remains strictly on lockdown. The children continue to stay at home, attending virtual classes every day.
  • NYF’s Vocational Education team starts a new mobile training program in order to serve students safely during COVID times. 135 students join in July, and NYF considers plans to continue the program even after COVID times.
July 22, 2020

NYF launches fourth COVID program: Access to Education

  • With ongoing public school closures, students are starting to fall behind. To combat this, NYF begins a trial run of a new village-based learning program, called Access to Education, in Dhading District. The pilot program receives enthusiastic support from students, teachers, and parents.
  • Read about the beginnings of NYF’s Access to Education program.


July 23, 2020

World Bank reports pandemic could push 1/3 of Nepal’s population below poverty line

  • According to the Nepal Development Update and the World Bank, Nepal faces the risk of nearly one third of its population — who are just above the poverty line — could fall below the line due to the loss of the livelihood caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Read the article here.
August 2, 2020

NYF’s New Life Center and Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes re-open

NYF resumes the operation of our Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH) and New Life Center program. With restrictions being lifted, NYF anticipates more and more hospitals will begin referring children with malnutrition and/or HIV to our facilities.

August 13, 2020

NYF pauses pop-up Community Nutrition Kitchens

  • By recommendation of The Social Welfare Council, NYF pauses the pop-up nutrition kitchen program. With people resuming work and receiving an income again, there is less urgency for free meals.
  • NYF will continue distributing Lito packages to families in need, and will be ready to resume the pop-up kitchen program if it is needed.
August 31, 2020

Emergency shelter opens to all as an isolation facility for patients with COVID-19.

  • In September, the MoU for the emergency women’s shelter (previously signed on June 17, 2020) is revised in order to become an isolation facility for patients infected with COVID-19.
  • NYF provides isolation services to 46 people in total: 24 women and 22 men
October 3, 2020

NYF opens 46 more Access to Educations centers

  • An additional 46 Access to Education Centers open in two rural municipalities in Dhading District.
  • With an average of 100 students per satellite center, NYF provides 5,000 K-10 students with educational opportunities they haven’t had in six months, and mobilizes 354 teachers who are already on the Nepalese government’s payroll.
  • Read more about these new Access to Education Centers.
December 26, 2020

All 80 of NYF’s Access to Education centers are open

  • Moving carefully to ensure COVID-19 stays out of these villages, NYF finishes the year with an additional 30 education centers in Gandaki Rural Municipality.
  • All 80 satellite centers continue to run for over 9,000 children who are still out of school.
December 31, 2020

India donates 1M doses of COVID vaccine to Nepal

India (and China to follow) donates 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal. The first 500,000 healthcare workers in Nepal have begun to be vaccinated.

January 31, 2021

Schools in Nepal are starting to re-open

Most of the children at Olgapuri Children’s Village are now attending in-person classes at school. Home-schooling is provided for those children whose schools have not re-opened.

February 27, 2021

NYF staff in Nepal receive the vaccine

March 21, 2021

NYF launches SAAET Project

  • Inspired by the new Olgapuri greenhouses built during the lockdown, NYF launches SAAET – a new vocational education training program for women in rural Nepal.
  • Read more about the SAAET Project.

April 28, 2021

Second major wave of COVID hits Nepal and Kathmandu Valley enters another lockdown; NYF opens COVID isolation facilities

  • As cases surge, another government-mandated lockdown starts in Kathmandu to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Hospitals are already full. Vaccinated NYF staff members set up COVID isolation facilities.
  • Read more about NYF’s COVID isolation center.


May 2, 2021

India’s outbreak spreads quickly

  • Nepal records the highest daily increase in death since the beginning of the pandemic as the country faces a major surge in COVID cases. Only 1% of the landlocked country’s population is fully vaccinated.
  • Read more on Reuters here.
May 3, 2021

NYF opens a COVID Isolation Center at our Kathmandu Nutritional Rehabilitation Home

  • Nepal Youth Foundation opened our first COVID Isolation Center in our Kathmandu Nutritional Rehabilitation Home on Tuesday, May 4th, and it is already full, mostly with people under the age of 18.
  • Isolation centers provide safe care for individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 and must be isolated from their families, but who are not sick enough to be hospitalized.
  • Read more about NYF’s COVID isolation center.


May 5, 2021
May 7, 2021

NYF continues to distribute Lito, a “super flour,” through the second surge

  • NYF’s stock of already-prepared and packaged Lito continues to be distributed, along with other staples like rice and potatoes.
  • Team members make deliveries to orphanages, children’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, food banks, and other locations where individuals can access this critical resource.
May 23, 2021

NYF President Som Paneru interviews with BBC News TV

  • President Som Paneru appears on BBC World News  live from Kathmandu to describe the crisis– and the urgent needs in his country.
  • Watch the interview here
May 26, 2021

NYF adds four High-Dependency Units to COVID-19 Isolation Center

  • After a few weeks of operation, NYF’s COVID Isolation Center adds four “High-Dependency Units” or HDUs. Patients in need of hospital intervention will be moved to this area and held here, under stabilizing, high-level care and using special equipment, until NYF is certain a hospital ICU bed has been found for them.
  • See pictures of NYF’s High-Dependency Units.
June 16, 2021

Nepal’s lockdown extended as the second surge continues

August 31, 2021

Over 205 patients treated at NYF’s COVID Isolation Center

The 50-bed capacity isolation center has been able to provide life-saving services to over 205 patients who were unable to isolate themselves at home.

September 15, 2021

Nepal government eases some COVID-19 restrictions

  • Authorities in Nepal allow district officials to decide whether to reopen schools and other public spaces.
  • After almost a year and a half of being in lockdown, children at Olgapuri Children’s Village are looking forward going back to school soon.
September 16, 2021

NYF pauses COVID Isolation Center services

  • Following a recent government decision to re-open public spaces, NYF suspends isolation center services to fully resume our regular NRH programming. Since its opening, we’ve admitted and treated more than 240 COVID-positive patients at our facilities.
  • We are continuing to produce Lito, our homemade “super” flour, at the NRH and are still distributing them to communities in need via the Lito for Life program.
September 17, 2021

NYF resumes regular programming at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH)

December 15, 2021

Children 12+ at Olgapuri Children’s Village receive COVID-19 vaccinations

All children 12 and over at Olgapuri Children’s Village receive their second COVID-19 vaccination. NYF will arrange vaccinations for the younger children as soon as the shots are available for them in Nepal.

January 3, 2022

NYF’s “Lito for Life” continues

  • Since 2020, our dedicated staff members have distributed over 6,644 kilograms (14,650 lbs) of lito—and the program is ongoing.
  • NYF expands the Lito for Life program to include distribution of pantry staples beyond lito alone. Where needed, items like rice, potatoes, eggs, and lentils are also being delivered.
January 15, 2022

As Omicron cases spike in Nepal, NYF initiates full COVID-19 protocols again

  • With only 40% of its population being vaccinated, Nepal is experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases. Public schools will remain closed until the end of January 2022.
  • NYF responds quickly by resuming COVID procedures again, including a full lockdown of Olgapuri Children’s Village and limited programming at the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH). NYF students return to remote-learning.
February 26, 2022

Third wave of COVID subsides in Nepal; government relaxes restrictions again

90% of eligible citizens above the age of 12 have received two full doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Booster shots are currently being administered.

March 8, 2022

NYF resumes regular programming and Olgapuri Children’s Village opens

  • After two long years, the children’s residence section of Olgapuri Children’s Village is fully open. All the kids have resumed in-person classes and are attending school daily.
  • Eight high school graduates at Olgapuri move into university dorms or private hostels.
June 12, 2022

CDC no longer requires negative COVID-19 tests for flights

  • CDC no longer requires air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight.
June 23, 2022

First phase of vaccination for children between 5 and 11 begins

The first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations for children between five and 11 years of age starts in 27 districts in Nepal.

July 13, 2022

Children 5 -11 at Olgapuri Children’s Village receive COVID vaccinations

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 at Olgapuri Children’s Village receive their COVID-19 vaccination. This means all kids five and up at Olgapuri are vaccinated!

Ensure your #LoveWorks by making a gift today.

2015 Gorkha Earthquake Response

This Program Concluded in 2018

Just before noon on April 25th, 2015, Nepal was rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Gorkha District. It was the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal since 1934, killing 8,964 people and injuring a further 21,952. Twenty-two people died in an avalanche on Mount Everest, making this the deadliest day in the mountain’s history.

Much of the country’s rich architectural heritage—ancient temples and revered monasteries—were reduced to rubble. Whole villages close to the epicenter of the quake, in the Gorkha and Sindhupalchok Districts, west of Kathmandu, were completely destroyed, with not a single home left standing. Nearly 3.5 million people were left homeless in a matter of moments.

Aftershocks continued to rock the country for days and weeks after the initial quake, with nearly 40 over a magnitude of 4.5, and with some reaching magnitudes of 6.7 and 7.3 and causing further damage.

By the third day following the disaster, NYF was responding quickly and decisively, first with emergency shelters and medical supplies, then with longer-term protective housing for children displaced by the earthquake, and finally, by providing construction training and financial backing to rebuild schools and homes in impacted regions.

Relief programming ran from 2015 through 2017. Support reached the 9 districts closest to the epicenter: Gorkha, Dhading, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Baktapur, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Dolakha, and Nuwakot. Much of what we learned during this time later inspired our massively successful COVID-19 Response.

Phase 1: Emergency Relief


  • Recovery Shelter: NYF converted its Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes in Kathmandu and Pokhara into temporary recovery centers to serve patients discharged from area hospitals but too injured to return home. (Lessons learned during this time inspired our COVID-19 Response.) 
  • Hospital Support: NYF provided $80,000 worth of medical and surgical supplies to the four largest government hospitals in Kathmandu, including beds, blankets, food, clothing, and medical equipment. NYF also used school buses to transport more that 100 injured people home from area hospitals.
  • Emergency Supplies to Families & Communities: NYF distributed 10,000 kgs (11 US tons) of food; 1,000 items of clothing; hygiene supplies; 1,600 tarpaulins; 470 mega-size water filters for schools & community groups; and 10,000 mosquito nets in the worst affected districts.
  • Day Care & Learning Centers: Following the quakes, NYF opened 17 Day Care & Learning Centers in Kathmandu Valley and Dolakha, serving more than 1,200 children. At the centers, children received nourishing food, education, psychological counseling, and recreation. The centers provide a respite for parents to recover from the earthquake.
A row of children wearing colorful clothing sit in the shade eating lunch together and chatting.

Children at an NYF Day Care & Learning Center enjoying a nutritious lunch while chatting with each other. While NYF watched over these kids, parents were hard at work rebuilding, identifying work opportunities, assisting neighbors, and more - all while knowing their children were enjoying healthy learning and social activities in the company of friends.

  • Psychological Support for Earthquake Survivors: NYF developed a psychological support program focusing on children, parents, and teachers. Ankur Counseling Center staff trained 300 teachers and volunteers on psychological support & psychological first aid and provided counseling for 800 children and 150 adults.
  • Temporary Tent Shelters: NYF distributed temporary shelters to 1,263 families in the districts of Gorkha, Kavre, Sindhupalchok and Kathmandu Valley. NYF also distributed 590 community tents large enough to accommodate 20 people each.
  • Transit Homes for Children: At the request of Nepal’s Central Child Welfare Board, NYF opened two transit homes for children who lost their parents and guardians, or who were unaccompanied. This intervention was especially critical to protect children from human traffickers, who unfortunately flock to areas experiencing disasters. NYF cared for these children until extended family members could be identified, with many entering our Kinship Care program. Relatives were overjoyed to discover these children alive and well, as in many cases, they had feared the entire family had been killed in the quake.
Four young boys stand smiling in front of a 20-person tent emblazoned with the NYF logo, green grass underfoot.

In hard-hit Gorkha District in summer 2015, a group of boys showed off the community tent they'd been living in since May. Their village was completely destroyed by the earthquake, and now that monsoon season had begun, this simple shelter made a tremendous difference in their community's recovery. Photo by Alison Wright.

Phase 2: Rebuilding & Rehabilitation


  • Community Nutrition Kitchens: NYF opened 10 kitchens in local primary schools to provide nutritious midday meals. At the same time, mothers received education on nutrition and health & hygiene. A total of 1,000 children and 1,500 mothers benefited from the program. (Lessons learned during this time inspired our COVID-19 Response.)
  • Classrooms: More than 52,000 classrooms were rendered uninhabitable by the earthquakes. NYF, with advice from engineers and architects, designed an affordable, seismically safe structure and built 229 classrooms in 45 community schools.
  • Reconstruction Skills Training: In order to give local recovering young adults training and paid work in the aftermath of the disaster, our Vocational Education & Career Counseling program trained 692 men and women in masonry and 44 in electrical & plumbing, allowing them to participate in rebuilding efforts and enter the construction trades. (The success of this program led us to design the certification courses now offered at Olgapuri Vocational School.)
  • Kinship Care: NYF’s Kinship Care program expanded, placing 800 children whose parents were killed or incapacitated with loving extended family members and ensuring they could attend school.
  • Scholarships: An additional 300 young adults impacted by the earthquake received college scholarships through NYF’s Scholarship program.
In a lush green landscape, rows of uniformed school children walk towards clean, simple classrooms with white walls and red roofs.

Students in Gorkha District were happy to return to school in the months following the disaster. This return to normalcy - in bright, new, seismically safe classrooms - supported thousands of educational journeys and also allowed for psychological healing.

Thank You

In the hours, days, and weeks following news of the Gorkha Earthquake, NYF’s US office was overwhelmed by a tremendous outpouring of loving donations from all over the world. This speedy response from existing supporters and new donors allowed NYF’s on-the-ground team to respond quickly and decisively to this crisis, alleviating the suffering of thousands of children and families in Nepal. The outpouring of earthquake relief support continued for over a year.

We are so grateful for this support.

Nepal’s economy is still recovering from the Gorkha earthquake, but communities across the nation have used the opportunity to advance construction safety standards and share infrastructural advances.

Even one life lost in such a tragedy is too many, but the death toll from this disaster was strikingly low, considering the widespread devastation caused. This was due to the earthquake’s timing, at noon on a beautiful, clear Saturday – a time when businesses and school buildings sat empty, and the majority of people living in the rural areas impacted were outdoors working in fields, with children playing or completing outdoor chores.

NYF is honored to have been able to respond to this crisis in support of children and communities whose lives were uprooted by this disaster. We are honored to have been entrusted with our donor’s support in making these interventions possible.

Olgapuri Children's Village

Olgapuri Children’s Home (“Olga’s little oasis”) is a beautiful, permanent home for up to 80 children ages 1-18 whose parents are unable to care for them.

Olgapuri is at the heart of NYF’s programming, providing services in all four of our core mission areas: Education, Health, Shelter, and Freedom. The children here come from diverse backgrounds, but each of them has experienced trauma, loss, and the absence of stable parental support. At Olgapuri, NYF commits to ensure that each child receives the holistic family-style care they need to grow into their dreams and realize their great individual potential.

Dedicated staff and house parents are involved in each child’s development and welfare. The children have access to some of the best schools in Nepal as well as psychological services through NYF’s Ankur Counseling Center.

Children live in one of four houses—Junior Girls, Senior Girls, Junior Boys, and Senior Boys—each of which has room for 20 individuals, for a total of up to 80 residents at a time. Each house has a set of “parents” (all married couples) who are supported in providing the personalized attention and loving care each child needs. Additional caretakers help the youngest children with their daily routines. Olgapuri is dedicated to offering these children the best possible opportunities to develop into confident, thriving young adults.

The enclosed campus, located in the Kathmandu Valley, features facilities like a basketball court, a library, a sprawling vegetable garden, and more to encourage physical and mental well-being.


Children everywhere need certain things to thrive—stability and structure, love and emotional support, education and positive role models, security, shelter, nutritious food, clothing, medical care, and protection. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, this quality of care is not available to all children, leaving many to grow and develop in perilous circumstances.

Since 1992, NYF has provided safe, loving homes for some of these children. J House, NYF’s original home for boys, and K House for girls, were administered from rented buildings. From those early days, these residences offered a sanctuary for “…orphans, abandoned and disabled children, child laborers, street kids and youngsters who had been living behind bars with an incarcerated parent. Some had endured more trauma and suffering from an early age than many of us experience in a lifetime. Each child arrived with a unique, heart-breaking story. What they had in common was a chance to begin a new life –an opportunity to start over as part of the J & K House family” (Olga’s Promise, book by NYF’s Founder, Olga Murray).

But NYF leaders in the United States and Nepal dreamed of providing these children with a better, larger, more beautiful space. Thanks to extremely generous support from committed donors, we were able to secure a piece of land in Lalitpur, Kathmandu Valley, large enough for our dream village.

Olgapuri Children’s Village was opened in 2016. The children living at J House and K House transferred to the new campus and were joined by new brothers and sisters. The campus continues to develop year after year, with recent additions including a small theatre space and several greenhouses.

Since 1992, almost 200 children have been raised in these homes and have become successful parents, teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, I/NGO workers, government employees, social workers, and more. Graduates from Olgapuri Children’s Village speak fondly of their time here, recalling festivals, friendships, and family connections that last well into the future.

Olgapuri siblings often form lifelong friendships with one another, fondly recalling festivals, friendships, and family connections. Photo taken by Lena Stein.

Education & Academic Performance

Olgapuri’s young residents are enrolled at some of the best public and private schools in Nepal: Adarsha School, Phoenix School, and Ullens School. Children who are interested may also take music lessons on weekends, and many of the children have chosen to do so.

As Olgapuri children approach their late teens, they are provided with guidance concerning continuing education, career paths, and other opportunities. The vast majority choose to continue into college, and these students are moved automatically into NYF’s Scholarship Program for the duration of their studies, with all housing and tuition costs covered. Some graduates prefer to pursue a skilled trade, and these students are supported as well, through NYF’s Vocational Education & Career Counseling program. 

No matter their chosen path, NYF is committed to supporting each Olgapuri child until they have achieved self-sufficiency.

One of the major duties of the house parents is to consult with teachers about each child’s academic performance, specific needs, or behavioral issues. This specialized attention ensures good academic outcomes for the children and shows each child that he or she is cared about as an individual. Most years, each Olgapuri student moves forward successfully into the next grade.

Health & Psychological Support

Ensuring healthy growth and development is a major focus at Olgapuri, whether for children experiencing routine bumps, bruises, and the sniffles, or for those with special health care needs. Fresh, balanced meals are prepared on-site with the support of NYF’s team of nutritionists, and house parents take care to encourage regular exercise and to support age-appropriate hygiene habits. A pediatrician visits Olgapuri once per month and is available for consultation when needed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these visits have not occurred in person, but regular care has been coordinated over the telephone.

One of the key services at Olgapuri is the world-class psychological care provided by NYF’s Ankur Counseling Center. The children living at Olgapuri have each experienced unique losses and challenges. Many of them, understandably, come to us struggling with issues around trust, abandonment, emotional security, attachment, and more. Our trained counselors are devoted to helping each child develop the emotional skills and competencies that promote empowerment, healing, appropriate boundaries, positive coping, connection, self-esteem, and resilience. This care is provided through ongoing, specialized individual and group child-centered therapy sessions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this care has continued via teleconferencing software and has been augmented with additional support to help the children deal in an age-appropriate manner with the anxieties of living through this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Routine check-ups for the children at Olgapuri include eye exams.

Two children at Olgapuri admire the leafy greens growing in the Olgapuri garden.

The Olgapuri garden always has healthy and organic vegetables, helping to ensure strong development for the kids in our care. Agriculture is still a major livelihood in Nepal, and access to a garden like this one provides many kids with a connection to their heritage.

Counselors from NYF's Ankur Counseling Center (ACC) frequently work with the youth at Olgapuri. Interventions include workshops, yoga, sand-play therapy, counseling, and more!

Staff & Capacity Building

Staff training and support is critical at Olgapuri. Like the children, our staff members receive classes and workshops from Ankur counselors, including tips on positive communications skills, self-reflection, and child management. These resources allow staff members create the safe, trusting environment Olgapuri strives to be for every child.

Photo taken by Lena Stein.

Recreation & Culture

Happy childhood memories often grow around recreational and cultural activities within the broader community: art, leisure, sports, festivals, rituals, and more. Many of the children who have grown up in NYF’s children’s homes look back fondly on the celebrations enjoyed here, identifying these as part of what makes these homes a real family environment. NYF is especially committed to connecting the children to the rest of Nepalese society, their history, and the individual regional cultures they come from.

Each year, Olgapuri holds a farewell celebration for outgoing children and a welcome party for newcomers. A joint birthday party is held each spring, and each fall, Olgapuri Day commemorates the day the village first opened its doors. Nepalese holidays are honored, including Dashain, Tihar, Yomari Purnima, Holi, and more. 

A child receives Tikka blessings from house parents during the 2020 Dashain celebration at Olgapuri Children's Village. Occasionally, these celebrations are held jointly with other local children’s homes, to deepen the sense of community.

Your Donations

Olgapuri Children’s Village is supported by thoughtful gifts from donors passionate about child welfare, with some individual children supported through our Sponsorship program.

Recreation isn’t just for special occasions and holidays. The children are encouraged to spend leisure time together, playing sports outside or making memories with board games and craft projects. Basketball, soccer, hiking, cycling, gymnastics, dancing, and swimming are beloved activities at Olgapuri. 

A special “movie theatre” beneath the dining hall allows staff members to screen movies and documentaries on Friday nights, and the space is often enjoyed during the week by children wanting to organize talent shows, recitals, and performances.

Scholarships for K-12 and College Students

Nepal Youth Foundation was founded on the promise of education—the belief that all children should be able to access a good-quality education and be empowered to pursue their dreams.

In our decades of operation, NYF has grown into one of Nepal’s largest non-governmental scholarship providers.

Scholarships allow children and youth to attend grades K-12, college, medical school, and graduate school, prioritizing those experiencing systemic oppression, financial hardship, and other challenges. We also offer Scholarships for Students with Disabilities and, through our Vocational Education & Career Counseling program, technical education scholarships.

The over 12,000 students we have supported so far are Nepal’s future teachers, doctors, NGO leaders, architects, designers, small-business owners, government officials, and more. Our students are studying in 28 of Nepal’s districts and attend nearly 400 schools and colleges.

Laxmi*, 17, earned a remarkable high score on Nepal's "Iron Gate" exam at the end of 10th grade (only 50% of students pass the rigorous Secondary Education Exam). Her scores made her eligible to attend a great school for 11th and 12th grade, but her parents - subsistence farmers in their rural village - couldn't afford the daily bus fare to get Laxmi to and from class each day. NYF stepped in to ensure Laxmi can continue her studies. Opportunities like these will transform Laxmi's economic future - and the future of her family as well.

Day School Scholarships (K-12)

Day School Scholarships are awarded to students whose families are unable to afford the expenses associated with school attendance, like notebooks, uniforms, and kerosene for doing homework after dark.

These small scholarships make an incredible difference in the lives of entire families—lowering the likelihood of child marriage, increasing economic empowerment, and opening opportunities that benefit families far into the future.

Nine-year-old Mina* shows off her English assignment. Mina's mother deeply wanted her daughter to attend school - an opportunity she didn't have as a child. But the family was barely getting by, and couldn't afford Mina's uniform, supplies, and other necessities. A Day School scholarship allows this growing girl to keep coming to school, where the things she learns will open opportunities for her to chase her dreams.

Boarding School Scholarships (K-12)

Boarding School Scholarships are for those who need total support for education, housing, and other expenses. Often these needs arise because the student’s family lives too far from the nearest school, or because a particularly motivated student has been accepted to a competitive school far from their village. In other cases, a boarding school scholarship provides a stable living situation to an older student experiencing housing insecurity.

Pushpa*, 16, found herself without adult guardianship when her mother passed away. No extended family members were able to house her, either. When she was referred to NYF, it became clear that bright and motivated Pushpa needed a stable living situation and a place to study - but not much more. A Boarding School scholarship was the least disruptive solution for this eager student, including check-ins from an NYF social worker to ensure her needs are being met. Pushpa lives on campus with friends her own age, and she's adjusting well. NYF will support her educational journey until she is able to support herself after college.

College Scholarships & Beyond

NYF scholarships are also available for students in college, graduate school, medical school, and other higher-education programs.

Preference is given to deeply motivated, high-scoring students from oppressed minority groups, those experiencing financial hardship, or those facing other barriers to college-level education. Many students transition from K-12 scholarships into college-level studies with NYF support, but other students come to us at the college level having already successfully completed secondary school.

Scholarships cover expenses like tuition, necessary program materials, housing and board near their campuses, and transportation. Many of our students have earned full-ride academic scholarships from the Nepali government, and are in danger of losing those scholarships because they cannot afford housing or regular meals during their studies. NYF support ensures they can enjoy the rewards of their hard work.

After graduation, financial support from NYF ends to encourage each student to enter the workforce as soon as possible. NYF makes sure to leverage its network of contacts throughout the country to support these graduates in their job searches, and help is available to each in areas like resumé writing, interviewing practice, and other career counseling (see the Vocational Education & Career Counseling program).

Purnima*, 24, Shristee*, 25, and Ravi*, 27, (left to right, in white) are each studying medicine on NYF medical school scholarships. They've progressed far enough in their studies to be taking on tasks in a teaching hospital in Kathmandu. Each of these students has had a long journey to this point - full of determination, long study sessions, discouragement, and triumph. NYF is so pleased to be helping train the medical professionals who will strengthen the health care infrastructure in Nepal!

Staff at the New Life Center are pictured walking towards the building.

New Life Center

The New Life Center (NLC) is a residential health center providing specialized, supportive care to Nepali children (age 0 to 15) living with HIV/AIDS.

Our young patients and their caregivers stay here for months at a time, free of charge, receiving specialized medical and nutritional support, psychological counseling, tutoring services, cultural celebrations, and more – until they are healthy enough to return home. Caregivers of these children receive vital information on hygienic practices, nutrition, and the effective management of HIV/AIDS, plus counseling services in partnership with Ankur Counseling Center.

After discharge, families unable to access the free antiretroviral medicine provided by the Nepalese government benefit from delivery services by NLC staff.

New Life Center nurses (in white) and two patient families pose in front of our beautiful facility at discharge. The New Life Center is located in Lalitpur, just outside of Kathmandu. Stigma against HIV is so great in Nepal that we can't show our patients' faces - but these moms are tremendously relieved to know the New Life Center is here to support them in managing their children's HIV.

How We Work

Because children’s immune systems are not fully developed, children living with HIV get much sicker than adults–and they do so more often as well. These children are exposed to all the same illnesses as other children, but even when their HIV is well-managed, their weakened immune systems struggle to fight effectively against common ailments like the flu, the common cold, urinary tract infections, and more. Tuberculosis and pneumonia are special dangers for Nepalese children living with HIV.

The New Life Center provides these children with the support they need to survive and thrive with HIV.

Capable of treating up to 18 child-mother pairs on-site at a time, the NLC strives to provide holistic residential care to between 50 and 60 children living with HIV each year (often alongside their mothers, who are often also living with HIV). A few children who have lost their parents and have no other options for guardianship remain in NYF care on a permanent basis.

Our NLC team helps children recover from illnesses, keep current on their medication, and perfect their HIV management practices at home. When an NLC child turns 15 (old enough for adult services), NYF matches them with their local HIV resources for adults, ensuring a smooth transition with no gaps in care.

Staff members include cooks, nurses, a nutritionist, a driver, and more, with hospital-based pediatricians visiting at least once a month during non-pandemic times.

New Life Center nurses (in white coats) administer medicine to several children receiving care for HIV - as well as their mothers, also living with HIV. Stigma around HIV is so strong in Nepal that NYF must obscure the faces of these individuals, but here at the New Life Center, everyone is treated like family.

Beginning in 2022, we are expanding our outreach capabilities to provide home-based care options for rural families who are unable to spend months out of the year in Kathmandu Valley. Mothers in need of income generation help will also become eligible for some of our programs aimed at small business start-ups. (See Vocational Education & Career Counseling.)

HIV/AIDS Awareness & Advocacy

In coordination with our hospital friends and grassroots partners, NYF is expanding our HIV/AIDS Awareness campaign efforts. We will provide a telephone helpline for those hoping to keep their status private, as well as produce and distribute Nepali-language educational resources for caregivers. Our hope is that by expanding our reach in this way, we can save and enrich many more lives – and help Nepal continue its progress in addressing this global challenge.

We’re proud to have a developed a clear, illustrated Nepali-language HIV/AIDS information and home health guide to help families understand and manage this challenging diagnosis. Copies of this booklet have been distributed to individual families and to local health posts and the offices of other Nepali NGOs working to address HIV in their communities. (You can download the booklet below or view it as Flipbook on our website).

Our team has also released two radio public service announcements, each recorded in Nepali and the Bhojpuri language. These brief clips play several times a day (including prime time) through the Ujjyalo Network—a nationwide network of FM radio stations throughout Nepal, with millions of listeners a day. FM radio is the most popular information source in Nepal, reaching rural and urban listeners alike.

The sound files below include translations into English of the important information we’re sharing over Nepal’s radio waves to challenge social stigmas, prevent further spread, and empower individuals living with HIV to access important health resources.

Pediatric HIV in Nepal

People living with HIV/AIDS in Nepal face social isolation, medical neglect, and physical and emotional abandonment. Though the Nepalese government offers HIV medication and other treatment programs free of charge, these services are difficult to access for patients in remote villages. Some hospitals still refuse care to affected people.

Many children are only diagnosed after their fathers, and sometimes both parents, have died of the disease. Tragically, low diagnosis rates have resulted in some mothers unknowingly passing the virus to multiple children. These children are at extremely high risk. HIV/AIDS is one of the most stigmatized illnesses in Nepal. Schools shut their doors. Non-infected children won’t play with them, and they’re banned from village activities. As kids living with HIV/AIDS become desperately sick with opportunistic diseases and feel brutally ostracized, their quality of life plummets.

A group of children enjoy a sunny afternoon on a balcony area at the New Life Center. Times like this - coloring and enjoying the simple medicine of sunshine and good company - help these kids feel less alone, and more like children.

Problems related specifically to HIV/AIDS in Nepal – in particular where children are concerned – include:

  • Scarce specialized programs for people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Limited access to available programs and resources, particularly for families in geographically remote villages
  • Cultural stigma and superstition around HIV/AIDS status
  • Low and late diagnosis rates, especially for rural communities
  • Parental death leaving behind orphan children unable to access care
  • Large families prioritizing uninfected children
  • Necessarily-long hospital stays for children receiving care
  • Endemic malnutrition throughout the country

NYF works closely with many other local organizations serving communities living with HIV to respond to these problems as effectively as possible.

Staff at the New Life Center pose for a photo in front of the the building.

The New Life Center is located in Kathmandu Valley, next to NYF's flagship Nutritional Rehabilitation Home. Here, our incredible team (pictured above) ensures families living with HIV are safe, nurtured, and supported in their journeys of becoming.

Fortunately, facilities and programs like those offered through the New Life Center and our community partners empower children and families to harness their potential and live full, rich, joyful lives. Building on a strong foundation of nutritional care, attention to a medical routine, and psychological counseling, the New Life Center helps children and families regain control of their health and chase their dreams.


Your Donations

The New Life Center offers services free of charge to the families in our care. This incredible program is funded by loving donations from organizations working to end the worldwide HIV epidemic and by individuals passionate about helping children and families thrive despite this daunting diagnosis.

Ankur Counseling Center

Ankur is the Sanskrit word for “flower bud,” “sapling,” or “sprout”.

It’s also the name of Nepal’s first counseling center for children—NYF’s Ankur Counseling Center.

Using proven techniques like sand play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and creative movement therapy, Ankur therapists help children coping with trauma, grief, and loss—as well as struggles like ADHD, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Age-appropriate workshops are available on subjects including life skills, bullying, self-care, sexuality, drug abuse, stress management, and more.

Led by a team of passionate therapists and counselors specializing in children’s mental health, Ankur provides individual and group therapy, as well as empowerment workshops and peer counseling training. Competitive, highly-respected internships are available for Nepali college students majoring in psychology and social work.

Individuals surveyed about the care received through NYF routinely identify the counseling services as the most immediately helpful benefit of our programming.

Children participate in a yoga class led at Ankur Counseling Center. The practice has become a vital tool in mental wellness and stress management across the world, but it originated right here in Nepal and Northern India! Ankur counselors love opportunities to use culturally-meaningful practices to help children deal with everyday stresses - as well as tougher challenges.

Ankur Counseling Center plays a critical role in many of NYF’s programs. For example:

  • Children living at Olgapuri Children’s Village receive regular group and individual counseling. They also attend regular workshops on important topics like boundaries, safe and unsafe touch, and stress management.
  • Staff members at Olgapuri also receive special training through Ankur, as well as regular support in addressing behavioral issues in ways that support each individual child’s development.

NYF staff members participate in an Ankur workshop, learning the basics of sand-play therapy. Understanding these tools will help the adults better relate to the children NYF cares for, and the ways children express complex feelings.

  • At the New Life Center, individuals coping with the life-changing diagnosis of HIV benefit tremendously from receiving therapy both one-on-one and in groups. This includes remote therapy over the phone!
  • Our Vocational Education & Career Counseling team offers regular Ankur-led workshops. Favorite topics include goal setting and decision making, team building, women’s empowerment, and stress management.
  • Scholarship recipients who express mental health struggles are eligible for therapy.
  • During NYF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our therapists also released important Nepali-language self-care information over social media and began providing remote mental health services to front-line healthcare workers. Local nonprofits addressing women’s issues like domestic violence received special support and training to help address the sharp uptick in these issues during extended COVID-19 lockdowns.

Children benefit from different kinds of therapy than adults do - and the experts at Ankur are determined to empower each child they treat as early as possible!

Your Donations

Ankur Counseling Center is partially supported through paid services made available to the general public in Nepal. However, services through NYF’s programs, and services rendered for individuals unable to afford regular therapy, are supported through the thoughtful donations of NYF supporters.



Vocational Education & Career Counselling

NYF’s Vocational Education & Career Counseling (VECC) social workers help link motivated young adults with the holistic resources and training they need to start lucrative careers in Nepal’s growth sectors – starting each on his or her journey to an empowered future. The VECC also serves as a vital resource to academic Scholarship recipients who are working towards job placement.

Services here include:

  • Vocational trade school scholarships
  • Skills training courses through Olgapuri Vocational School
  • Job placement support
  • Entrepreneurship classes
  • Start-up microgrants
  • Resume-writing & job interview coaching
  • Basic computer training
  • Networking connections to other young adults on similar paths towards personal economic empowerment
  • Life skills workshops through Ankur Counseling Center, including goal setting & decision making, self-care, personal development, self-esteem & motivation (designed for young adults who have experienced systemic marginalization), and more

Aditi*, 21, received a VECC scholarship to attend a local technical school for nursing. The three-year program is preparing her for a career that will allow her to build financial power and help provide better medical care for women in her community.

Nepal’s Growing Economy

Youth unemployment and underemployment is an entrenched crisis in Nepal, standing in 2021 at a staggering 35%. Nepal’s young people have big dreams, but due to challenges like limited educational access and systemic oppression, many struggle to escape generational cycles of poverty.

At the same time, Nepal’s developing economy and infrastructure demands skilled workers across sectors from veterinary science to textile manufacturing to plumbing to nursing. Careers in these sectors often pay enough for one worker to support his or her entire family—including providing educational opportunities to their own children.

However, though the demand is high for these skills, Nepali companies often struggle to find qualified, trained local young people. As a result, many of these high-paying positions are filled by workers from India and other countries. Wages paid to these foreign workers flow out of Nepal rather than stimulating the domestic economy.

Meanwhile, young Nepali men and women can often only find job prospects beyond their country’s borders and far from family, where language barriers and other factors make them vulnerable to exploitation. These overseas positions separate families for months on end and provide workers with barely enough money to get by.

Kuldeep*, 25, takes a short break from his culinary studies to visit with his VECC social worker. He always loved cooking at home. Soon he'll be serving delicious, high-end dishes at a Himalayan resort!

One way to help strengthen Nepal’s economy is to allow young Nepali people to participate fully in the growth their country is experiencing.

Nepal’s rising generation is full of passionate, determined young people eager to build the Nepal of their dreams—and reap the rewards of their labor. NYF’s Vocational Education & Career Counselling program aims to help Nepal’s young adults do just that.


Sadhri’s Story

Sadhri*, 22, spent four years of her childhood as a domestic slave (or “kamlari” – learn more here) beginning when she was 9. During that time, she had no educational opportunities, and she was frequently demeaned and beaten for making the slightest mistakes. After she was rescued by NYF, Sadhri eagerly re-entered school—but due to years of trauma, she struggled to progress, and she finally left school after grade 9, discouraged that the injustice of the kamlari system was still robbing her of opportunities to grow her own financial independence.

In October 2019, Sadhri signed up to take NYF’s special three-week “Tea and Snacks Shop” training through the Vocational Education & Career Counseling program. This training includes practical lessons on bookkeeping, inventory management, health and safety, and other important small business principles. It also includes start-up expenses and the gift of a basic food cart with a built-in cooktop.

Whether serving up lunch and snacks near a construction site or parked in her covered market stall, Sadhri is bringing home profits every day from her small business.

Sadhri opened her new business days after completing the training, parking her cart near the site of an ongoing construction project and tailoring her small menu to the workers there. By January 2020, she was already earning a net profit of $350 per month (well over twice Nepal’s minimum wage!) and sending her children to a good school. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sadhri’s family was able to make ends meet thanks to the additional income, and Sadhri hopes to expand her business soon.

*Name has been changed

Olgapuri Vocational School

Olgapuri Vocational School (OVS), located on the Olgapuri campus in Kathmandu Valley, brings 20-student classes of men and women together for 3-month certification programs in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, welding, and more. Programs shift to match needs NYF has identified through contacts at major Nepali companies. Specialized courses are also occasionally offered in fields like industrial tailoring or special agricultural topics including unique crops (like mushrooms or henna) and innovations (including greenhouse technology). OVS is discussed in more depth on the Olgapuri Vocational School program page.

Empowering Freed Kamlaris

Young Tharu women associated with our Empowering Freed Kamlaris program are still eligible for special skills-based trainings held in their native Terai region of western Nepal. Most of these women join our “Tea and Snacks Shop” training program, which teaches the principles of small business ownership and provides start-up funds for each woman to open her own roadside business.

Graduates of this program have used their proceeds to buy livestock, to purchase farmland outright, or to educate their younger siblings. Some have even hired their parents or husbands to run secondary locations!

As a child, Durga*, 24, spent years working as a kamlari servant. Now she's her own boss, running a successful clothes shop at a central market in her town. Thanks to entrepreneurship and small business training through the VECC and a startup microloan (already repaid!), Durga is now investing in her children's future and putting money aside for emergencies.

Other trainings are developed for the Freed Kamlaris by request, when relevant. For example, in early 2021, a group of over 100 Freed Kamlaris requested industrial tailoring training, with the aim of working together in the growing garment industry (more on this on the Olgapuri Vocational School program page).


Vocational Diplomas

Finally, young people may receive scholarships for earning Vocational Diplomas at long-term technical institutions.

Careers include nursing, engineering, agriculture, the culinary arts, and hotel management—but many other unique programs are eligible, if a prospective student identifies a suitable certification course.

One recent student requested (and received) support for an intensive mixology course and graduated directly into a position as the lead bartender at a high-end resort for tourists in the Himalayas. Another young woman earned a vocational diploma in motorcycle maintenance and repair. She now runs a successful motorcycle repair shop—the only such shop in her region.

Between 50 and 60 individual students receive vocational training scholarships each year, with some vocational scholars supported through our Sponsorships program.

Bindu*, 24, always had a love for animals. Now graduated with a technical diploma in veterinary medicine, she's working at a local animal hospital caring for pets and farm animals as well.