About GEN

Some background information

The idea of helping girls to go to school stems from our own experience of free education in our home countries Finland and New Zealand. Having travelled, worked and lived in Nepal we have seen first hand just how difficult it is to have an education in a country ranked amongst the 10 poorest nations in the world, and how particularly difficult it is for girls who are often regarded less important than boys.

A quarter of Nepal’s population live below the poverty line and almost half of the Nepali people are unemployed. Currently 70% of children start school but only 7% reach 10th school year and gain the School Leaving Certificate (SLC). The literacy rate in Nepal is 65% male and 47% female. As in many Asian countries boys are favoured over girls, the ratio of boys to girls in Nepali primary and secondary school is almost 2:1, in favour of boys.

We believe that every child should have the right to go to school. As educated and empowered women ourselves, girls’ education is especially close to our hearts. We believe the whole family benefits when the mother is educated. Research shows that families of literate and educated mothers have higher standards of hygiene, lower birth rates and an increased likelihood of children going to school.

As a sponsor you can be sure that all the money you donate goes directly into this programme. We are a small charity with no middlemen and very low admin costs.

Girls Education Nepal was inspired by the success of Nonna and Amanda’s previous (and ongoing) project – Firefly Children’s Home in Kathmandu, Nepal. FCH has been running since August 2004 and now accommodates, feeds and educates 30 children aged between 4 and 12. For more information please see www.fireflychildrenshome.org.

GEN Founders

Nonna Giri (nee Lamponen)

Having lived in Nepal for almost 6 years (2004-2010), I have seen the hardship that so many people face. This makes me acutely aware of how lucky I am to have been born in Finland where education is free and no-one ever goes hungry. The Nepali women work incredibly hard, and in many cases all odds are against them. Having had all the opportunities in the world given to me, I felt the least I could do is to try and give the same opportunity to some girls who never had a chance.

It still amazes me how much you can do with relatively little money. For the price of a fancy dinner in a western country, a girl can get an education for a year in Nepal! The work is rewarding, and now that we have had our first GEN girls passing their SLCs (School Leaving Certificate) it is incredibly satisfying to know that our programme has enabled them to do this. The responsibility is also hard at times. Things don’t always go the way you want them to go, the girls face tragedy and hardship, and there are many challenges in a country like Nepal. But in general the pluses by far outweigh the minuses, and especially the last two years have been more relaxed for me as we have an excellent team on the ground – both in Kathmandu and in East Nepal.

After almost six years in Nepal, Nonna moved back to Europe in the summer of 2010 and recently had her first baby – a bouncing baby boy born in March 2011.

Amanda McKay

New Zealander Amanda McKay strongly values education. With several university qualifications behind her, she is well aware of the positive influence education and knowledge has played in her life.

From her time and work in Nepal, Amanda has a deep love for the Nepali people. And she is thrilled to provide Nepalese girls with an opportunity for a bright, educated future.

Amanda’s high level of integrity and dedication makes her a trustworthy founder and supporter of Girls Education Nepal.

GEN Programme Head

Indira Rana Magar

Indira Rana Magar is a dynamic and committed social worker, a social entrepeneur who has been awarded with the Asoka Fellowship, and also a human rights activist. Indira started her social work working in prisons in 1990 alongside Parijat, a human rights activist.

In 2000 she established her own charity – Prisoners Assistance Nepal (PA Nepal). PA Nepal’s work focuses mainly on improving the life of the most vulnerable people in prison. Throughout the years, PA Nepal has grown into a well established NGO that provides education, skills and rehabilitation training for the most vulnerable groups (women, children, sick people and mentally ill people) while advocating for their rights.

Indira is an an inspiring manager and motivator. In her role as the chairperson of PA Nepal, she has made the organisation into a formidable force that advocates for prisoners, their families and children; provides residential care for children; runs programmes for prisoners and educational programmes for village children. By overcoming and leaving all the obstructions behind and having a firm determination and passion to do something, Indira has turned into an international personality and has received many national and international awards.

Outside the prison world, PA Nepal is providing welfare and educational services to children as well as support programs for women. GEN operates as a special programme under PA Nepal. For Girls Education Nepal, Indira has the overall responsibility of the team and the running of the ground work. Indira identifies the most needy cases, submits her recommendation and together with Nonna decides which girls are chosen for the programme. She also co-ordinates the follow-up ensuring there are no problems and the girls are attending school regularly. Indira’s role in the project is crucial and her knowledge and experience in this field invaluable for the success of GEN.

GEN Project co-ordinators

Sunita Manadhar

Mrs Sunita Manandhar, an M.A. (Sociology) degree holder, is the programme coordinator for the GEN project at Prisoners Assistance Nepal. Prior to joining PA Nepal in May 2009, she volunteered in different social organisations.

With a good knowledge in report writing, she is interested in research work on children and women. She also has to her credit several case studies on child rights. While keeping a close relationship with the girls enrolled in GEN programme in Kathmandu by visiting them every month, Sunita is also responsible for reporting and updating monthly schooling, educational and overall development of the girls. She makes sure that all requirements of the girls are met, and writes proposals on any additional or special expenditure the programme might have. With our accountant Hari, Sunita also helps to prepare monthly financial reports and annual budgets. Sunita makes sure that communication flow is seamless, and the programme would simply not function without her hard efforts.

Hari Karki

Mr Hari Karki works as an accountant for the GEN programme, and also for PA Nepal. He is responsible for keeping a tight record on all transactions and monthly reporting.

Hari started with us in 2007, and immediately introduced several improvements to have more transparency and clarity when dealing with the accounts.

Hari speaks fluent English. His calm manner, reliability and trustworthiness make him a true asset to the programme.


Sagar Magar

Mr Sagar Magar has been associated with GEN project from the very beginning in 2004. Sagar is working as a Field Officer for GEN project, and is responsible for paying school fees directly to the schools, and for providing the necessary educational material for the schooling of GEN supported girls. Sagar is in very close contact with the girls, and in case of any trouble he is often the first one to be contacted by the schools, or the girls themselves.

Sagar’s experience as a House Incharge at PA Nepal’s Children’s Home in Sankhu has helped him to build good relationships with the children. He has been involved in social services from childhood and is familiar with child psychology.

Angad Dhimal

Mr Angad Dhimal is working as a Field Officer in GEN Project in Jhapa, Eastern Nepal. He is a local social worker. He is associated with GEN Project from the start of the project in Eastern Nepal. As a Field Officer, he is responsible for practical running of the program in Jhapa, Eastern Nepal which involves regular follow up visits to the girls in their schools and with their families, taking care of their needs, paying monthly fees to the schools, reporting updates of the girls to GEN Coordinator in Kathmandu.