In 2005 the project founders, Francesca and a friend were trekking in Upper Mustang when they met lama Khenpo Tsewang Rigzin , the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery in Mustang, Nepal. A few months earlier, he had begun to gather around twenty children from remote and impoverished villages where no school facilities exist to give them an education and started a project to build them a school.
When they got back to Italy Francesca & Mariagrazia began raising funds through photographic exhibitions, organization of presentations etc. which enabled them to make a substantial contribution to building of the classroom. The school was only for boys though (in line with cultural norms) and so in September 2010, Francesca co-founded the Association of Altevette-onlus (www.altevette-onlus.org<http://www.altevette-onlus.org>) primarily to focus on raising funds to facilitate the education of girls too.
So what is Altevette-onlus?
The first project on which the Association focused was called “Pencils of Light” ( “Matite di Luce” in Italian) to establish and build a girls’ school in the village of Thingar(4.000 Mt altitude) in Mustang. You can Google it of course! And if you do you’ll see how remote an area it is.
When did the school open?
In August 2012, 6 of us travelled to Upper Mustang to attend the opening of the school for 20 girls by way of an amazing inauguration event– you can see a video of some photos from our trek in this video presentation here (it’s a little long at 20 minutes but tells the story of the trek to the remote Upper Mustang) :
For a shorter video shot (3 minutes) during the inauguration event and some fun & games with some of the girls the next day see this clip:
We were (and continue to be) absolutely blown away with how the school was transforming not only the lives of those girls but also impacting the local community too. Recently the school has been used for community education events too. So the whole community continues to benefit.
Where are we now?
Of course it takes a lot of effort and funding to keep it sustainable it’s not simply the building of the school. We really understand now that was just the beginning! So far the school is completed in Upper Mustang, with furniture and recently installed solar panels to heat water and power 36 light bulbs. More news and details about the school soon.
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