Q&A With the Ama Foundation
Every time an incredible women-led project is crowdfunded on backHer, a portion of our platform fees are automatically transferred to the backHer Rise Together Fund. The BRTF was created to support organizations that are making a difference in the lives of women and girls all over the world. 100% of the backHer Rise Together Funds (minus PayPal fees) goes directly to the organizations that we support.
The BRTF currently supports the Ama Foundation Community Education for Girls Project. This is a US grassroots nonprofit that funds Ama Ghar, a home in Nepal that cares for abandoned and orphaned children. Ama Ghar provides higher education to all of their girls so they can support themselves and create a future for themselves as well. They also offer elementary school scholarships for girls in the surrounding villages.
We recently had the pleasure of asking a few questions of Cathy Clifton, Communications Director of the Ama Foundation to learn more about Ama Ghar:
Q. We see that through the Community Education for Girls Project you are raising money to purchase laptops for girls as they participate in vocational training or higher education. At this stage have there been any Ama Ghar residents that have realized their educational goals? If so, what careers/pathways have they chosen?
A. Oh, yes – so many! One of our first Ama Ghar children, Sharada, is now a doctor in Nepal and is actually coming to the US in June to continue her medical education and certification. We have young women who have “graduated” from our program and now are in a diverse array of fields: Kalpana T is an employee of Qatar Airways in Doha, handling VIP customer service; Kalpana P is in Pokhara, Nepal working with an AIDS organization; Manisha just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management and is pondering a couple of job offers; Parbati is a barista in Kathmandu; Menuka is an elementary school teacher.
And the boys are doing well, too – Subash is an architecture graduate who is working in remote villages training NGOs on how to build earthbag houses – an earthquake-proof type of construction that he is considered an expert in; Anish is married with a son and works as a trekking guide and first aid instructor for a trekking company in Kathmandu; Shankar is a culinary worker in Dubai. You can get the full picture by going to the Alumni section on our website: http://ama-foundation.org/our-family/ama-ghar-alumni/. There’s also lots of info to be found in our blogs at http://ama-foundation.org/blog/
Q. What are the biggest challenges that the Ama Foundation faces?
A. The toughest challenge is funding. We are not affiliated with any government or religious organization – all of our funding comes from private donations. Ama Foundation in the US and Ama Ghar Suisse in Switzerland are our only sources of funding. It’s difficult for us to get a grant because we are small and can’t offer enough “impact” for the big donors. Of course, the point of what we do is to provide a loving home and education to these children who have come from such difficult situations and to be sure that by the time they leave Ama Ghar they have the tools to support themselves successfully. In addition to the fact that they live in a large and loving family, we also provide counseling for those who have been particularly traumatized. Helping them to overcome their circumstances and become functioning adults and good citizens of Nepal is our primary challenge.
Q. What factors contribute to the success of Ama Ghar?
A. Love, nutrition, and education! Ama Ghar is not an orphanage (foreign adoption is not allowed in Nepal) and once children come to us they stay through to adulthood and live together as a family. Our Nepali staff is warm, loving, hard-working and amazing – they serve as a surrogate family to these children and we have very little turnover, so for the children, it’s great to become part of a stable family. The older children help and mentor the little ones, which is particularly helpful when they first arrive. The biggest factor is our goal of supporting them in their education as far as their abilities will take them. Many children’s homes in Nepal save children from the street and care for them until they’re 18 – and then put them back on the street with no tools to care for themselves. Our philosophy is different.
Q. How does the Ama Foundation support the Ama Ghar community?
A. The primary purpose of Ama Foundation is to raise funds to support the Ama Ghar home. We do this through our Annual Appeal, which goes out via electronic and traditional media in the fall, through email newsletters and social media, through online giving portals like Network for Good, Global Giving, CrowdRise, etc. and through fundraisers. Upcoming fundraisers include a showing of the film SOLD, which is about human trafficking in Nepal at a private club in San Francisco and a family picnic in Sonoma in partnership with a local school.
Q. What other goals and aspirations do the Ama Foundation hope to accomplish in the coming years?
A. I think our goals right now are to keep doing what we’re doing but to do it better and better. If we can increase our funding in the coming years, our home could accommodate as many as 75 children. At the moment we have 42 children actually in the building (plus many others who are away at school and vocational training) and we don’t have a big enough budget to take in any more. Ama Foundation is committed to increasing our donations on a year over year basis so that we can accomplish that goal.
To learn more about the Ama Foundation and Ama Ghar, check out their website https://ama-foundation.org/help-these-young-women-achieve-their-dream-of-a-college-education/