When you arrive in Chitwan, thefirst thing you witness after the plain roads and mustard fields are people upand about their daily lives, commuting in bicycles or rickshaws - a sight contrastto the commuting style in most metropolitan cities including Kathmandu. Chitwanis in the plain Terai region, extended over the Southern foothills of Nepal, ahome to the Tharu people, an ethnic group indigenous to the area.
Even though bicycles are the mostcommon mode of transportation in this area, the cost per bicycle maybe beexpensive particularly for those from marginalized families. When families invillages are unable to afford bicycles for each member of the family, prioritiesgo to the head of the family then to the men in the much patriarchal society. Thisis main reason for school dropouts, a main reason for students especially girlsto miss school as it becomes a daunting task to walk long hours each day to andfrom school.
The ‘Bicycle for Girls Project’is an initiative started by Dharma Adventures in recognition to this problem. Underthis project, we contribute bicycles to girl students living outside theChitwan National Park, so they can save about 90 minutes daily commute toschool. The girls that benefit from this project are all from marginalizedfamilies who live in the villages of Chitwan. While any help is appreciated inthis part of the community, we realize that in the long run, buying bicycles togo to school and providing school materials is the most sustainable and impactfulchoice for the community.
Over the years, we donated many bicycles,but our biggest contribution so far would be in 2018 where we successfullydonated 12 bicycles to girl students from this community. We were able to makethis project successful in collaboration with one of our agents, Bamboo Travelwhere we matched 100% of their contribution to this project. After a thoroughresearch, candidates were selected, and bicycles were bought. A small handoverprogram ensured lots of happy faces.
This is an experience of givingback something meaningful to the community. If you feel this may be an experienceworth sharing, a difference worth making or organizing for your guests, we aremore than happy to pave the path.