Children and Youth First is a locally-founded, locally-led NGO in Kathmandu Valley. We are a rights-based organization that funds the Life Vision Academy, a safe home and progressive boarding school for 47 underprivileged children from across Nepal. 

At CYF we believe educating youth is the gateway to a better world, which is why our mission is education for all. We are a group of young people who feel that children are the development of tomorrow; when you invest in a child, you are investing in the future.

 

In a country where over 50% of the population are children under the age of 18, illiteracy rates are high, and more than half of primary students do not enter secondary school, there is a strong need for improved educational services in Nepal. 

Countless studies have proved that education is perhaps the most important factor for a country's development and that the benefits are numerous. For example, for every one additional year of education for women of reproductive age, child mortality decreases by 9.5%. 

At Life Vision Academy, students not only receive a basic education, but they are also educated about society, the environment, how to think critically, and how to respect one another. We also encourage our students to try a variety of extracurricular activities that will help them apply their education throughout their lives: computer skills, cooking, photography, trekking, making handicrafts, etc. In the home that is Life Vision Academy, CYF is providing direct support to children who are in need and building a stronger generation of Nepali youth.

In 2013, CYF created a women's economic empowerment cooperative named Haushala, which means Encouragement. The women at Haushala create beautiful hand-knitted and hand-sewn products, including customized orders. Many of these women are the single mothers of Life Vision students or women from the community battling a variety of social obstacles. Your support enables these women, many of whom did not receive a full education themselves, to pursue their own dreams and goals while simultaneously supporting youth education.

 

The caste system and historically regressive gender norms in Nepal have contributed to poor development outcomes for women and girls as well as some of the highest educational and economic gender gaps globally. While women in Nepal contribute to more than 50% of the workforce, this is largely confined to agriculture and the informal sector, both of which are underpaid, making them particularly vulnerable due to a lack of financial resources. Even if women are able to find and take paid work outside of the home, they often are not in control of whatever income they earn.

Globally, it has been demonstrated that women are catalysts for development. Women spend 90 cents of every dollar they make on their children, prioritizing things like health care, nutritious food, and education. As a result, a child in a household where the mother controls the budget is 20% more likely to survive and much more likely to thrive. In addition to creating better lives for themselves and their families, the didis (sisters) atHaushala report feeling a new-found sense of belonging and freedom.

In stark contrast to the mass manufactured products that line our store shelves and fill our homes, the Haushala products are hand-made using timeless traditions that have been passed down among didis for hundreds of years. The product name - Haushala - not only symbolizes the encouragement of these women artisans, but it also symbolizes the encouragement of hand-work and the art that goes into making these beautiful products. 

The Dhaka collection is one example of a truly indigenous form of expression reflecting Nepali mastery of craftsmanship. The fabric is traditionally hand-woven using a wood or bamboo treadle loom, where a print pattern is formed according to which sections the different color thread is laid down. The Dhaka Topi, a hat made from dhaka fabric that is a part of Nepali national dress, is considered a very important symbol of Nepali culture and national pride because the pattern embodies a piece of their history, culture, and tradition. In the words of Niraj Karki with ECS Media Nepal:

Dhaka gives me this old romantic impression of Nepal maybe a hundred years ago – and I wasn’t born a hundred years ago so I don’t know – but it is this feeling, an impression of a more and truly cultured Nepal, bearing its own unique, untainted identity, unaffected by the waves of foreign influence in fashion and culture. 

Check out our store to see how we use Dhaka!