When asked about the After School Program’s role in his life and how it has changed him, thirteen year old Manish Basnet promptly said, “Since I joined 3 years ago, it has helped me keep my act together. I don’t know how to describe its importance in my life. All I can say is, if we ever move away from this settlement, I will ride a bus back here every day so that I can attend the program.”

Manish Basnet (11) is the only child of Chandra and Laxmi Basnet who moved to Manohara about eight years ago from a village in Gorkha, western part of Nepal. Chandra works abroad but Manish does not seem aware of his exact whereabouts; while his mother washes clothes for well-to-do households in the cities.

When asked about the After School Program’s role in his life and how it has changed him, thirteen year old Manish Basnet promptly said, “Since I joined 3 years ago, it has helped me keep my act together. I don’t know how to describe its importance in my life. All I can say is, if we ever move away from this settlement, I will ride a bus back here every day so that I can attend the program.”

Presently, Manish is studying in fifth grade at Shree Saraswati Nimna Madhyamik School. He attained 27th rank/ position in a class of 44 in his last exams. After he recited his marks in a monotone, he adds that before he joined the ASP in 2011, he was failing nearly all of his subjects (expect Mathematics) which he now manages to pass, though not with flying colours—though he acknowledges the fact that he needs to do better than ‘just pass’ in his subjects. “To do that”, he continues, “I know I need to keep attending the ASP. The teachers here have been extremely helpful, patient and never turn down a query.”

“I think the ASP has helped me more than it has helped my son. I am at so much more ease since he has joined the program. I feel secure knowing that he is not wandering off anywhere, playing around or getting into trouble like other boys his age.” Before joining the ASP, Manish’s mother always complained about his rowdy and rude demeanor—it troubled her more than his poor grades did. “The ASP has put him back to his place. He has learned how to respect his elders from the teachers and understands the need to get better grades”, says Laxmi. As a lover of football, Manish wants to become a professional, and if not, an Army personnel. Nowadays, not only is he doing better in his studies, but he is also using his spare time to participate in the children’s club’s dance and theatre programs. His performance at the graduation received rave reviews from everyone in the audience!

The After School Program works to help children like Manish with their schoolwork while at the same time honing their personalities and building self-esteem. Furthermore, children are not only given specialized attention for their homework but they are also given the opportunity to participate in activities like dance, drama, art and music. Through the years, the ASP has successfully created a encouraging place for learning.

Report by Suhasha Malla