Scholarship Program: Empowerment Through Education

Program history

IWEN's scholarship program sprung from a need that was recognized by founder, Michelle Bonneau, when she travelled to Nepal in 2004. The Nepali government had just recently banned the traditional system of bonded labour only four years earlier, but unfortunately it endured in many regions. Daughters, some as young as six, were contracted to work for wealthy families in return for an annual payment of roughly $50. The girls worked day and night and were harshly treated. Each year the contracts were renewed, often without the families being allowed to see their daughters. The girls became trapped and some were even swept into illegal sex trafficking. 

For the families that were able to keep their girls at home, there was little opportunity for them to attend school, so they grew up without literacy or skills to make a life, left to live a life of extreme poverty. This broke Michelle's heart. She decided to do something.

And thus IWEN was born. With the support of our field staff who themselves were at one time indentured, IWEN worked directly with the families to curb the selling of young girls into bonded labour. While this practice is no longer legal, families are still not able to provide their children (mainly girls) with educational opportunities due to extreme poverty.

IWEN has run successfully for 12 years with the help of donors like you. The impoverished families that we support in the western region of Dang are still struggling to make ends meet and spending money on sending their daughters to school is just not feasible. IWEN provides educational opportunities for the girls of the village, and life-skills and microcredit courses for the women.

With 180 girls in school, we are empowering an entire community. 

DETAILS OF THE PROGRAM:

$25.00 monthly (or $300.00 annually) covers the following expenses for one full year:

  • School admission and exam fees
  • Group tutoring
  • School uniform
  • House dress
  • Shoes and socks
  • School bag
  • School supplies (books, paper, pencils, and pens, etc.)
  • Personal hygiene products (toothbrush, tooth paste, soap, sanitary napkins, etc.)
  • Bicycle (once they reach the requirements, details below)

You receive quarterly e-newsletters that feature a Student Spotlight (an interview with one or more of our girls) and other information about how the community is thriving, not just surviving. Some newsletters will even feature video interviews of the girls we help or the work that we are doing.

BICYCLES

As part of our Empowerment Through Education scholarship program, girls are given the chance to take their futures into their own hands.  But many must walk a long distance to and from school. When they get back home they must do household work (such as fetching firewood from the forest) that leaves little time for homework and study.  We noticed some students were falling behind, creating stress on their home life.

IWEN came up with a solution for this. Students that demonstrate that they are committed to their schoolwork are presented with a bike between grades 7-9.  They are now able to manage their time better by decreased travel time and getting their chores done more efficiently, both leaving more time for study.

Bicycles help the girls with their self-esteem and social respect as it is a visible sign that they are going to school.  It is also a safer way to travel for a young girl. Through this program, the girls have become confident and vivacious.  Becoming mobile has a long term impact for IWEN’s girls and for their families.