A Solid Foundation

Kaila and Sabinna, two teenagers, live in a region where angular mountain slopes give way to vast valleys. Houses and buildings perch against steep hillsides.

Perhaps the precarious location of these hamlets mirrors the ease with which families’ dreams can plummet in these Himalayan foothills. People live in poverty, and most villages have school only up to 3rd or 5th grade. As hardship pushes dreams for education and opportunities to the edge, one tragic event could thrust them over.

That’s what happened in 2015, when everything literally came tumbling down. A massive earthquake and subsequent aftershocks devastated their country, decimated their village and destroyed the homes of both girls. The quake even took the life of Kaila’s younger sister. In the aftermath, Kaila’s and Sabinna’s families had one option for survival: move.

Kaila is one of the girls in GFA World's Child Sponsorship Program.

Starting Over with Nothing

They relocated to the nearest town and tried to start over, struggling to make ends meet by cultivating plots of land. In their new town they could resume school, but the families still struggled to feed their children—three in Kaila’s family and seven in Sabinna’s—much less provide for school supplies or tutoring. In a culture where additional tutoring is often necessary for students to successfully complete their education, these girls, like many other children from poor villages, had little chance of achieving higher education. Self-pity wrenched its way into Sabinna’s heart when she compared her situation to others’.

“There were times when my parents were not able to give us the money to buy notebooks and other school supplies,” Sabinna remembers. “When I needed [them] most and when my family was not able to provide me all these school [items], I sometimes used to borrow from my friends, but then that’s not possible all the time. … I used to feel self-pity sometimes, and I used to wonder if this happened only to me.”

These girls had survived the earthquake, but would they ever see a life beyond poverty?

A New Home, a New Chance

When Sabinna’s and Kaila’s families relocated, GFA workers were already in their new town. They had started a child sponsorship program in 2014, and after the earthquake, they immediately provided practical and spiritual aid, giving groceries to families, helping people recover items from the rubble and spending time listening to grieving hearts.

Both girls were eventually enrolled in the program and given opportunities their families could never have afforded. Through the sponsorship program, each afternoon they ate nutritious food, received study help and exercised with other children. When the program closed at 6 p.m., they headed home with heads full of new knowledge and motivation.

“The teachers are very loving and very kind, and if we don’t understand anything from our school lessons, they are always there to help us,” Kaila says.

“When we don’t have enough resources … and then someone comes and gives us [these things], it really fills us with joy and happiness.”

A Foundation of Hope

Then the pandemic hit. Schools closed, and the child sponsorship program couldn’t operate as usual. But the staff didn’t forget Sabinna, Kaila and the other children. They continued serving the community by distributing essential supplies to the children, their families and others in need. They held events to give out necessities, including rice, oil, salt and hand sanitizer. As the time approached for schools to reopen, they gave the children tracksuits and schools supplies, including 12 notebooks, six pens, a ruler and a geometry box—supplies that some families would have had to spend weeks or months saving for.

“I am very … glad that we have received the set of school supplies and also the clothes,” Kaila says. “When we don’t have enough resources … and then someone comes and gives us [these things], it really fills us with joy and happiness.”

Kaila, Sabinna and other children enrolled in GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program received school supplies and tracksuits, much-needed items that help alleviate their families’ financial burdens.

Kaila, Sabinna and other children in their community no longer have to watch their dreams plummet from the edge. Disaster could have forced them to drop out of school at a young age, but through the education and care offered by GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program, they gained a life-changing opportunity. Now, with a fresh drive to learn and thrive, they are building on a strong foundation—one that can anchor their futures against life’s tremors.

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*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

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