Why am I going to Nepal?

In the previous post, I was writing about Papert's constructionist theory that inspired the OLPC project. Leaving theory behind, I would like to draw attention to the hard reality that motivates me to be part of this project.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Based on data from the World Bank, the GNI per Capita (PPP) was $1500 last year , which ranks is 147th out of 168 countries for which the statistic is available. Data like this, however, only shows us a distanced view on a macro scale. What is hidden behind the data are stories of people with very few options for making a living. One such story appeared recently in the Guardian:

This is a report from Qatar, where preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup are currently taking place. It paints a very alarming picture of the fate of migrant workers, the majority coming from Nepal, who were hired through a collaboration of construction firms, employment contractors, and recruitment agents to build impressive stadiums for the upcoming football event.

These workers are exploited in such conditions that “at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August.” Many had their passports confiscated upon their arrival and were denied their pay without which they are unable to repay the loans they took to pay hiring managers, which arranged for the work. They are modern-day slaves.

It is stories like this that motivate me to leave a cozy life in the first-world to join OLE Nepal in Kathmandu, which is running computer educational programs in more than 56 schools around the country. With a meaningful education, future adults will be empowered to make a dignified living instead of being at the mercy of the recruiter for enslaving construction work at the nearest street corner. Whether OLE Nepal is indeed making a real difference with their online curriculum or whether my hopes and expectations are just too naïve, I do not know. There is only one way to find out- to go, join the team, and see for myself.