Providing hope through education
Sunsar Maya provides educational opportunities to better the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children in Nepal.
We believe in the power of education to improve lives, but we also recognize that education systems in developing countries do not often meet the needs of growing children with active minds and bodies. Traditional education often focuses on rote, repetitive learning, and does not give children a chance to make discoveries, ask questions, or embrace their own natural creativity—essential tools for learning how to think, reason, and find the joy in learning.
Our goal is to provide children with a safe and caring environment that will provide them with the emotional, physical and academic support they need to grow out of their circumstances and be successful in life. Our hope is to expand our program to reach children around the world.
SuMa's founders have spent time living and working with orphans in Nepal and recognized the need for the children to have more than just a a day at school. What these children were craving was interaction. Someone to play with them, to talk to them, and to give them love and encouragement. Much research has been done on the effects of institutionalized care and how debilitating it can be both for children’s physical growth and their mental health. Recognizing this need, we came back to what children in the best circumstances have access to and what helped them succeed and grow.
We started with early childhood education, because it is the foundation for future learning, and because it was the first place children are truly encouraged to play freely, to explore and question, and to inhabit their joy. Many children in orphanages may be past this age biologically, but developmentally have never been given the chance to explore through art and music and play and so may be developmentally or emotionally delayed. We created a curriculum rich in sensory play and social-emotional learning, two areas that institutional care does not provide but that are critical to our ability to process the world around us and to develop empathy and connection with others.
We found a partner in Golestan Center for Learning and Collaboration in Berkeley, California, an innovative language immersion preschool and after-school program that combines the philosophies of Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio-Emilia. The Golestan Colab, which works with educators to help set up ideal learning environments, sent educators with more than 20 years experience working with children to Nepal to train our staff in the curriculum and early childhood development, and help us set up the after school program. The Colab continues to advise us on the program and provide ongoing training for our staff in Nepal. We couldn’t be more excited about this program and the difference it’s made in the lives of our kids.