By Charlotte Dreyer
How to create happiness? What about a new job? Or treatment when you are sick? What about a toilet? Can a toilet put a smile on a person’s face? Sounds all like basic stuff. Basic and essential. The good news is that there are people who dedicated their lives on improving that of others.
Creating SMILES- building the Nation focuses its operation in the rural parts of Nepal where more than 80% of the total population resides. Here, 90% of the people earn less than $3/day. Unemployment is high and young people are left with no choices other than going elsewhere searching for jobs.
Burning firewood and fossil fuels are the only cheap ways to produce fire and light. There are no health facilities, schools and colleges, roads, communication tools or electricity. SMILES is originally the vision of Santosh Poudel. In January 2009 he met Ellinor Broms from Sweden. Santosh Poudel shared his vision about SMILES and it made a deep impact on her.
Together with Sibjan Chaulagain and three other friends, SMILES was founded. “We want a light in every house of the villages. We want computers in the villages to be used for running businesses. We want to provide telemedicine. We want to educate students and adults. We want to connect the villagers to their relatives working far away from home” says Sibjan Chaulagain, Executive Head at Creating SMILES. “We believe that the combination of technology and socio-economic interventions will lead to an increased living standard and quality of life in the rural villages of Nepal.” Sibjan himself spent 2 years teaching in a rural school in his village, which is still lacking basic infrastructure such as a connecting road or electricity.
Although he is not a professional educator he taught math, science, computer and basic life skills to kids between 8 and 14 years – proving that everyone can do his part. Besides education, sanitary facilities are a big iss
Many people suffer from diarrheal diseases and lack of clean water. Toilets are also of great importance for adolescent girls and women. The number of toilets that SMILES has created for the poorest people in the villages has reached 17 and many more are to come.
If you like this initiative and want to help Sibjan and his team to make a difference in the lives of people in Nepal, have a look at their website and see how you can contribute: www.thenationsmiles.org
He received The World Summit Youth Award for his this social work and effort in Nepal.