Greetings from San Francisco! After returning from a nearly month-long trip of traveling throughout South Asia to visit our READ Centers, I’m so excited to update you on all of the incredible sights, experiences and announcements.
First things first! We launched four new READ Centers – two in Nepal and two in India while I was there. The two centers in Nepal were opened in partnership with Reach Out To Asia Foundation from Qatar and are 2 of 10 centers we’ve already established through our 4-year partnership. READ now has 91 centers total serving more than 2.3 million people!
Our beautiful new Nagonyachi Wadi Center in India
The launch of the Kalika Center, located in Bardiya District, Nepal, had a jaw-dropping turnout. Nearly 2,000 people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds, and walks of life came to celebrate this fantastic new resource in their community.
Incredible turnout for the inauguration of our new centers in Nepal
This new center’s resources include services and clubs targeted to youth, which we’ve been providing for about a year leading up to the center opening (in partnership with Restless Development). The necessity of these services was more evident than ever when a young man spoke with me about how the community has seen an increase in drug use, but it’s begun to decrease now that youth have better things to do with their free time.
It was also exciting to watch young women play soccer through the sports clubs formed at the center – a new and exciting activity for young women in rural Nepal that is helping to shift gender norms. We cheered them on at the Kalika Center as they competed against teams from other READ centers – and won!
This is the first time these young women have been able to wear a sports uniform in public
The new Nagonyachi Wadi Center in India, established in partnership with the Caterpillar Foundation and their India affiliate, Perkins, is powered by solar panels and is the only source of electricity in the entire village, despite being located only 15 minutes outside of the major city of Aurangabad. It was pretty stunning to me that a village so close to a major city had so little infrastructure and other resources. The complete absence of electricity was especially apparent during the beautiful dinner that some of the women prepared – I took a huge bite of something green without realizing how many fiery chilies were on my plate. Good thing I love me some spice!
Preparing a delicious dinner for the inauguration in India. Just look at all those green chilies!
One of my favorite parts of this work is witnessing the different ways each READ Center molds to serve the unique needs of each community – whether it’s electricity, youth services, livelihood trainings, women’s empowerment, or all of the above. And no matter how many times I travel to our countries, I never stop being inspired by the passion and brilliance of our local teams or the ambition and potential of the communities they work in. Onward to the next milestone!