The original “Chelsea Education Center” opened for vocational classes in April 2013 as part of our “Sustainable Livelihoods” program for NOH children and young adults. In the first year, seventy students enrolled in classes for motorcycle repair, music, computer software, computer hardware, tailoring, hair styling, and mobile phone repair at the Center.
In 2014, the second year of vocational training, we added classes in shoe making, cooking, and German. In addition to learning trades from local professionals, our NOH children and young adults began studying math through guided lessons on Khan Academy and other online resources with individualized learning tracks. At this time, we also began “Life Skills” workshops to cultivate effective communication, public speaking, and critical thinking skills in all of our students.
Since 2015, the Center has chosen to focus more on the academic success of our students, especially in math and computer subjects, while also continuing our most successful vocational skills programs in tailoring and shoe-making. To help our students academically, we emphasize our mathematics courses and now offer a variety of computer classes in computer hardware, Microsoft Office Package, and QBasic programming.
In the summer of 2016, we opened two separate storefronts for the tailoring and shoe-making groups. Several of NOH’s older girls from the tailoring class, having completed their formal education, are further developing their sewing and clothes-making skills. While they still make our children’s school uniforms, they also make the uniforms for Gholadunga, a home for the sight-impaired that NOH supports. They also design and produce traditionally-worn kurta shalwars for sale at their storefront. As for the shoe-making class, not only do they produce shoes for NOH children and young adults, but they also fill many outside orders for other Skylark School parents.
In July 2015, the “Chelsea Education Center” became the Chelsea Education and Community Center (CECC) when we expanded our mission to give back to our local community. Initially, over 120 women in our neighborhood signed up to participate in our free literacy-training program. In October 2015, the Center also began teaching an online math program to 65 local women, many of whom were also enrolled in our English literacy classes. The course introduced the women to basic math problems while also allowing them to gain computer skills and practice basic English.
Currently, the Chelsea Education and Community Center provides daily classes in English, Nepali literacy, basic math, and computer classes for free to over 250 women from the local community. The Chelsea Center is helping to empower local women by instilling confidence in the women, expanding their horizons, and fostering a greater sense of community.
The Chelsea Center works continuously to improve its efforts to educate children and young adults of NOH as well as the local women of Dhapasi. We regularly assess student interest in class offerings, teacher effectiveness, and how to better meet the needs of all our students, both the NOH children and the women. Through coordination with Volunteer Nepal, we have many volunteers helping with conversation classes or math lessons, conducting workshops, and making presentations.