Abu Dhabi pupils help improve quality of life in Nepalese village

In Race4Good competition pupils raise education and long-term living standards in Yangsijung in rural Nepal

Pupils at a school in Abu Dhabi helped a young orphan girl become economically independent and a village of 800 people in Nepal improve their standard of living.

For their efforts, the 22 pupils from years 11 to 13 at British School Al Khubairat won the British Schools in the Middle East's Race4Good competition.

The aim of the competition, which was open to British schools throughout the Middle East, is to improve the quality of life of the people living in Yangsijung, a rural community in Nepal that was badly affected by an earthquake in 2015.

It just shows how you don't need loads of money to make a difference in people's lives
Sam Matthews, Year 12 pupil, British School Al Khubairat

Pupils worked their way through a series of challenges, communicated with elders in the community in Yangsijung and developed ideas to help them.

The Abu Dhabi school's winning solutions were implemented in the village within days.

Each child who participated in the competition paid Dh350 to take part. In total, they were given a budget of just under Dh3,000 (£600) for the three-week competition, which started at the end of September.

British School Al Khubairat pupils Sam Matthews, Dasnula Ratnayake, Alreem Al Ahbabi and Dimitra Karachaliou participated in the Race4Good competition.

Sam Matthews, 17, a Year 12 British pupil at the school who participated in the event, said: “Having won the competition, it just shows how you don't need loads of money to make a difference in people's lives.

“It took us three weeks and we were able to change 800 people's lives for years to come."

Improved quality of life

As a part of the competition, the pupils had to come up with a solution to improve the quality of life of Kipa, 18, who was orphaned at the age of 13.

The pupils bought Kipa a goat and chickens so that she could sell eggs and milk and increase her income.

They also helped by renovating her house, which had been damaged by the earthquake.

Dimitra Karachaliou, 16, a Greek Year 12 pupil at the school, said they received a rundown of her daily life, how much money Kipa spent every month and where she worked.

"From that, we tried to find a way to economically uplift her. For her housing, we tried to make that better for her. We tried to give her a better job to provide her with more money," Dimitra said.

A Race4Good worker in Nepal helped to bring the pupil's plans to life and sent videos of their concepts being put into place.

The team provided herbs and spices because these are in high demand and could be grown and sold in the area for a considerable profit for residents of Yangsijung in rural Nepal. Screengrab

For the education challenge, they realised that pupils did not have anything proper to write on and that their classrooms were very cold in the winter.

The pupils provided them with sticky-back plastic that could be stuck on their desks so they could be wiped clean and used repeatedly.

They also donated whiteboards and erasers so they could work at their desks.

To keep the classrooms warm in the winter, they came up with a solution to insulate the classroom with cardboard and tin foil, and then paint the bricks black, which gives them better heat absorption.

Dasnula Ratnayake, 16, a Year 12 Sri Lankan pupil at the school who worked on the project, said: “It was very heart-warming and emotional to see the videos, and when we did see the end result, it was thrilling for us.

"We could see children helping out – planting the herbs and spices – and see that eventually, down the line, this is going to have a massive impact on the community.

“This cannot be taught through a textbook or in a classroom. It needs to be done for you to learn from it."

Sustainable solutions

During the final round of the competition, the pupils had to find sustainable solutions to raise the standard of living for the entire village, which is in a remote area of Nepal.

The team provided herbs and spices because these are in high demand and could be grown and sold in the area for a considerable profit.

After discussions with community elders, the team also bought coffee seeds, with the long-term plan of selling these for a profit in the future.

Alreem Al Ahbabi, 17, a Year 12 Emirati pupil at the school, said: "Although we had a tiny amount of time to make these challenges, we had to find a way to solve really big problems, such as in education, where we helped improve a school, and uplifting the health care, where we implemented midwifery."

On Wednesday, Dr Amir Jafri, Race4Good chief executive, visited British School Al Khubairat to give the prize to the pupils.

Updated: November 18th 2021, 12:58 PM