I knew it would be remarkable. Still, nothing properly prepared me.
The six of us traveled a long way to finally arrive in the village of Dhayapur in the remote lowland Terai region of Nepal. We arrived to great celebration ahead of the school groundbreaking that would happen the next morning. The community celebration included three hours of music, dancing and speeches. And the signing of the covenant.
We had been told about the covenant signing–an agreement between our NGO partner buildOn and the community that memorializes the commitments of all parties. Community members agree to provide all the manual labor needed to build the school house, as well as equal school access for girls and boys.
Illiteracy rates are strikingly high in areas such as this. Many, especially women, are unable to sign their own name and instead use an ink pad to leave a thumb print as a signature. People line up to sign the covenant and then you see it–women leaving their thumb prints, agreeing to put their own sweat equity to build a school house that will break a cycle of illiteracy and poverty for their daughters, sons and community.
The next morning we were shoulder to shoulder with those same women, digging the foundation of the new school house.
If you are looking for evidence of hope, optimism and conviction the future can be a better place, go look in Dhayapur, Nepal.