Data Respons strongly believes that young people are our future and we want to be a part of giving coming generations the best starting point possible and the ability to grow and prosper into educated, healthy and valuable individuals. We call it Enabling the youngAn example for how we approach this vision is how we have supported our daughter company Sylog’s engagement in the Swedish non-profit organization Gatubarn i Nepal (Street children in Nepal).
The long-term mission of the organization is to develop basic infrastructure in Nepal’s villages, put children to school and protect the future of young girls. And developing basic infrastructure contributes to reaching these UN’s development goals, amongst others:
The Society for Street Children in Nepal (Gatubarn i Nepal), is a non-profit fund-raising society working for the provision of permanent accommodation for street children or those who risk becoming street children in Nepal. Highest priority is given to girls since they in particular run the risk of human trafficking.
The Society provides education for children and young people who would otherwise have no access to education. In addition, the Society provides food for children still living on the streets.
In order, to get a clearer picture of what impact the organisation has had for street children, we interviewed Ylva Lilja, consultant manager in Sylog, who has been engaged in Gatubarn for 2,5 years and has been chairman since the last two years.
1. Can you introduce yourself, who you are and what you do at Sylog?
My name is Ylva Lilja and I am a consultant manager at Sylog, which is a Data Respons subsidiary in Sweden. I have been employed at Sylog for 15 years. Sylog employs over 250 consultants in Sweden, in Göteborg, Stockholm and Linköping.
My key responsibility in Sylog is to take care of and manage consultants and make sure the projects deliver on time and in accordance with the client’s expectations.
2. Can you tell us about the project, why you joined it, and its background?
I had this idea that I wanted to do something for a good cause abroad. My mother told me about this project and about Eva Holmberg Tedert, the founder of the organization. Eva herself was travelling to Nepal when she became aware of all the homeless children on the streets. She quickly realized that there were almost only boys and wondered where all the girls were. After discussions with a local monk, he explained that girls are very likely to become victims of human trafficking. Shortly after, in 2010, Eva founded Gatubarn i Nepal.
Hearing this story made a huge impression on me. So, I contacted Eva, travelled to Nepal and got involved in Gatubarn. Every time I travel to Nepal, it strikes me: it’s total chaos and poverty, but at the same time, people appear to be so thankful and happy.
My motivation is to contribute to a good cause. It feels deeply satisfying to see how our work has immediate positive consequences on the children’s lives. In addition, I got especially convinced to support Gatubarn because there is almost no administration fee for donation, which means that 97% of the money goes directly to the operations in Nepal.
Among other things, we have built an orphanage which now houses 14 girls and one of them has moved to a student dorm. The organization works to give the girls a safe everyday life with good study opportunities and good leisure activities. Furthermore, we enable and educate girls to become nurses and doctors, so they will go back to their villages with a medical competence and thus directly affecting the local health conditions.
Helping the children in Nepal is about starting from the bottom of the society. We help mothers survive, because when they die, children become orphans with no one to protect them.
What about the fathers?
Often, the fathers are no longer around. When the fathers still are part of the families though, they often work abroad, for instance in Qatar. We help the mothers by talking about family planning, provide them with contraceptive, helping them during the pregnancy and help them in giving birth.
This is crucial to help the next generation have a good start in life. When none of the parents are around, children, and mostly girls, are especially vulnerable to become victims of trafficking. The ultimate goal is to stop trafficking and to make the villages self-sufficient and independent of our help. To achieve this, we help villages get fresh water, so the children can go to school instead of getting water, and goats and beehives, so the villages can breed more goats and hopefully sell some of them and beehives can make honey. One village got goats and for the money that they earned they bought tomato plants and a greenhouse. Thanks to that they could buy hens. That is another reason why this is so important, and it feels fantastic to be a part of giving them the opportunities to develop.
3. How has Covid19 affected the situation for the children in Nepal?
It’s really hard for them. The children in the orphanage are doing relatively well, compared to those in the slums. But in the slums, they still have a lockdown and are starving. The situation is horrible. All schools are closed, and the children are not allowed to have lessons online, because it would be unfair if not everyone is granted access because far from everyone has digital devices.
There is no basic infrastructure, which makes the pandemic hit them even harder. There are no roads and no medical help. The pandemic is affecting the children both short term and long term. Short term, they are suffering damages from starving. In the long term, they develop learning disabilities because of starvation.
4. How is Sylog supporting you in this engagement?
Sylog is one the main sponsors, but they also support Gatubarn by giving me time off to travel there. Due to the monsoon season in summertime, I can’t travel there in my regular summer vacation. So, Sylog is making it possible to travel outside of holiday season.
5. What’s the end goal for you?
If we want to reach any of the development goals, we have to get the whole world developed. Enabling education for future generations is the key to reaching this. The contribution from Data Respons assist in developing the next generation on a very basic level. The vision is to stop trafficking by enabling education and making sure that the mothers stay alive by improving general healthcare.
Every impact we have in Nepal aims at developing the very basic infrastructure. When developing another country, we need to do it in their terms. We won’t change Nepal the next years and it would be an illusion to think we are making Nepal a better place any time soon. But we are, hopefully, educating the children so they can do it themselves. They are the future.