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Little Sisters Fund

Area served: Nepal
Ketchum
Idaho
Telephone: (1) 208.293.2499
Email Us

About-Little-Sisters

The Little Sisters Fund (LSF) protects at-risk and economically disadvantaged girls in Nepal from the dangers of child sex trafficking, child marriage and child labor through education, mentoring and empowerment.

The Little Sisters Fund (LSF) takes a holistic approach with child protection and education at the center, running seven complementary programs that span education, health, and community awareness raising.

Since the earthquake on April 25 2015, the Little Sisters Fund team has been providing emergency relief to those who need it most, through our pre-existing network that covers 9 of the 14 severely affected districts.

As Nepal moves from rescue and relief to recovery and rebuilding, our core programs are more important than ever.


Main Focus

  • Child Rights
  • Education
  • Training & Skills

View more members in Nepal
Creating tomorrow's leaders

Education in Nepal

Little Sisters Fund provides scholarships for over 1500 at-risk Nepali girls. We believe female education & empowerment are vital to social development.

Our Mission

To provide hardworking, intelligent, and financially disadvantaged South Asian girls the opportunity to obtain an education in the face of adverse conditions such as extreme poverty, deprivation or social prejudices.

Our Vision

The Little Sisters Fund fosters a sustainable educational environment for Nepalese females by addressing the root causes of low female literacy in Nepal and provides safety, opportunity and hope through the gift of an education.

 Our Story

OUR STORY

Founded in 1998 by Trevor Patzer and Usha Acharya, the Little Sisters Fund started with a gift of education planted in the United States that is now blooming in the country of Nepal.

When Trevor was 13 or 14 a family friend offered that if he was accepted to one of the top boarding schools in the USA, St. Paul’s School, the friend would financially support Trevor’s education there.  In the spring of 1989 Trevor was accepted and true to his word, the family friend paid for Trevor’s St. Paul’s schooling giving Trevor first-hand experience of how life altering the gift of education is.  Trevor did not know it at the time, but the seeds for the Little Sisters Fund were planted through this generous gift of education years before the first girl received a scholarship in Nepal.

Nepal

Leaping forward 10 years, Trevor had an opportunity to travel to Nepal and to trek to the base camp of Mt. Everest.  While in Nepal he saw the poor state of the Nepalese educational system and when he returned to Kathmandu, he asked his friend and mentor, Usha Acharya if there was a child he could help get an education.  Usha replied that there was not a child, but a girl and she introduced Trevor to the plight of women and girls in Nepal and to the challenges girls face just to go to school.  She also introduced Trevor to Bindhaya, a young girl not in school and therefore at-risk of child labor, child marriage and child trafficking.

Life changing

This introduction changed Trevor’s life and was the spark that ignited what is now the Little Sisters Fund.  Trevor asked what he could do and Usha suggested that he could pay Bindhaya’s tuition, book, supply and uniform expenses and in doing so, provide her with safety, opportunity and hope through the gift of an education.  On-the-spot Trevor committed to support Bindhaya’s education, the first Little Sister.  Today she is a highly successful nurse at one of Nepal’s best hospitals.  She is a School Coordinator and mentors a group of 15 younger Little Sisters and in her spare time, she continues to pursue her Masters In Education.  Perhaps most importantly, Bindhaya is “paying it forward” by choosing to personally finance the education of a younger Little Sister.

Back in the USA

When Trevor returned to the US after his trip, family and friends would ask him what his favorite experience was from Nepal.  They expected him to say watching the sunrise between Everest and Lhotse from the top of Kala Pattar… and when Trevor would answer that his most rewarding experience was meeting Bindhaya and explained the state of female education in Nepal and that he was supporting Bindhaya’s future education, people would ask how they could help and wanted to support the education of other girls.  This is when the seeds of the Little Sisters Fund, planted a decade before by the gift of education that Trevor had received, took root resulting in the birth of the Little Sisters Fund.

Little did Trevor know at the time that Usha was a world expert on the rights of women and girls in South Asia and had led teams at both the Asia Foundation and at Save the Children UK and had written and published numerous books and articles on the state of the Nepalese educational system.  Trevor explains that, “Usha is it when it comes to education and female rights in Nepal.  She is hands-down the most knowledgeable, respected and compassionate person in the field of Nepalese female education.”

In 1998 the Little Sisters Fund supported one girl, Bindhaya.  In 1999, there were 17 Little Sisters.  In 2000 the Fund had grown to support 35 girls… and today there are over 1,500 Little Sisters on long-term scholarships doing amazingly well both individually and collectively. 

Trevor and Usha are both still integrally involved in the Little Sisters Fund.  Trevor leads Little Sisters Fund efforts in the USA while Usha leads the extremely talented and committed team in Nepal and both report to a uniquely skilled and knowledgeable Board of Directors. 

Thousands of people in Nepal call Usha “didi”, a term of endearment and respect for “older sister”.  Usha and the Nepalese team combined with the support of our donors are saving and changing lives, one girl at a time, in Nepal.

“We know that there is no tool for progress more powerful than the education of girls and the empowerment of women.” Kofi Annan, 2003

Nepal team

Nepal team

Usha Acharya, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Nepal

Usha is Co-founder of the Little Sisters Fund and oversees all Fund activities in Nepal. Prior to her role with the Fund, Usha led Nepalese in-country efforts as a Senior Program Officer for Save the Children Fund (UK) on topics including education, marginalized children, discrimination against women, and HIV/AIDS awareness. She also served as Program Officer for The Asia Foundation in Nepal, focusing on Nepalese societal well-being.

Usha says: "My own experience of being a daughter of poor and illiterate parents from a rural village made me personally aware of how vulnerable young girls can be in Nepal. Every year I walked six days in a row to Kathmandu for education and returned home during the two months of winter vacation. As there was no other mode of transportation at that time, walking up and down the forested mountains and crossing the rivers in wooden canoes was a challenging experience for me. However, I finished my school, college and university education through hard struggle against heavy odds. It was almost a mission impossible. Today I am where I am, and doing what I am doing thanks to my education."

Ramesh Wagle, Finance Officer

Yashoda Dhakal, Program Officer

Sangita Adhikari, Primary Educator Trainer

Trimuna Siwakoti, Health Program Assistant

Juni Kiran Chaudary, Program Assistant

Indira Chaulagain Sharma, Parent Liaison and Inventory Manager


US Team

US Team

Trevor Patzer
Trevor Patzer is co-founder and full-time executive director and Secretary of the Little Sisters Fund, Inc. He is honored to have received multiple honors for his work with the Fund.

Saudamini Siegrist
Saudamini Siegrist is currently Senior Adviser for Child Protection in Emergencies at UNICEF, and previously served as Chief of Child Protection for UNICEF in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and as Child Protection Specialist at the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center (IRC).

Alisa Newman Hood
Alisa Newman Hood is senior adviser in the Energy Resources Bureau of the U.S. Department of State.

Jim Belles
Jim Belles is a Managing Director in KPMG's Economic and Valuation Services practice in Orange County, California where he manages a professional practice that specializes in the valuation of business enterprises, intangible assets, and financial securities.


Educate one girl

Our Programs

School Scholarship Program

Born in 2003, the School Scholarship Program (SSP) is a community based sponsorship program and supports all tuition, book, supply and uniform costs for Little Sisters who attend English speaking semi-private and government schools throughout Nepal. We currently work closely with 70 partner schools in 18 different districts in Nepal. These Little Sisters do not write monthly letters. Today there are over 1500 SSP Little Sisters.

School Coordinator Program

For older Little Sisters who have graduated from the program and are either working or are in higher-level studies, the School Coordinators program offers leadership roles as mentors and administrators to groups of 15-25 newly accepted Little Sisters.

Primary Educator Training Program

In 2013 we started a Primary Educator Training Program (PET) focused on primary level teachers (classes 1-5) in Little Sisters Fund partner schools. Nepalese classrooms focus on rote memorization. We augment current teaching techniques with more child-focused and multi-sensory classroom methods that encourage analytical and critical thinking and group learning. Every year we augment the teaching skills of hundreds of teachers.

Preventative Health Care/Counseling and Awareness Raising

Two key programs support our girls once they’re in school so that they thrive in the classroom and beyond. The first is our Counseling and Awareness Raising Program (CAR) and the second is the Preventative Health Care Program (PHC). In CAR we counsel all Little Sisters regularly on challenges they may face socially or medically.  Topics include but are not limited to trafficking, the importance of hygiene (brushing teeth, washing hands), body change, menstruation, pregnancy, STD's and HIV.

Individual Sponsorship

Individual Sponsorship Program (ISP) where a sponsor supports the education of a girl or girls. The Little Sister then writes to her sponsor monthly.

Little Sisters May 2015

Success Stories

Nikita's Story:

Nikita is the oldest of two sisters born to deaf and mute parents.

Her extended family is large and given her parents disabilities, they did not have proper jobs. Thus, Nikita's life was difficult from the start. Fortunately, her parents did value education and Nikita was enrolled in a government school. There she studied for about three years. She wanted to study in a private school as the quality of education in private schools in Nepal is far superior to that of government schools. She knew that it was of no use requesting her parents to send her to a private school since the family was barely scraping by. She consoled herself and continued to study and to do her very best in everything she undertook and her studies paid off as she is a very good student. She was a well disciplined and an intelligent child but despite all this, she was at risk of being forced from school due to family financial constraints.

She was approached by the Little Sisters Fund administrative team and selection committee and was awarded a scholarship since she met our selection criteria. At the beginning she was very shy and used to feel hesitant to speak to new friends. But as time rolled on, she started to make friends and also took part in many classroom activities. She writes beautiful poems. She loves to write essays and short stories. She knows how to sign and helps the Nepalese deaf and mute community as an interpreter in various government offices. Nikita is the kindest, brightest and most engaging girl you can imagine.  She was awarded the Little Sisters Fund's Gabby Community service Award.

Last year she passed her all-important SLC exam upon completion of the 10th grade and today she is studying for her bachelors degree in humanities and works as a Little Sisters Fund School Coordinator in one of our partner schools. She is popular and very well regarded among the other Little Sisters.


Akina's Story:

Akina is 11 years old and in grade 4. 

She goes to Shatiniketan Secondary English School, one of the Partner Schools of LSF.  Akina comes from Khotang, a far eastern district of Nepal.  She was the fourth daughter born to her parents.  As soon as she was born her father abandoned her mother because Akina was not born a male child and because "her mother could not produce a son". Immediately after her birth her father fell into depression and in desperation started drinking alcohol and beating her mother.  Unable to cope with the situation her mother eloped with a man and came to Kathmandu, leaving four daughters behind.  Akina was 2 years old at that time.

Akina and her three sisters were raised in a very harsh environment.  Her father married another woman and they had to live with this unsupportive stepmother.  At a young age, Akina had to work hard and do all the household chores along with her sisters instead of going to school.  They used to fetch fodder for the animals, water and logs from the forest.  Going to school was a distant dream for them.  They always went to bed hungry. 

Years later, Akina's mother returned to the village with her second husband and learned about the suffering of her daughters.  At first she maintained that it was the father's responsibility to look after the girls.  However, before returning to Kathmandu she managed to meet them.  When she met them she found Akina suffering most as she was the smallest.  Akina was sick.  Her mother took this Akina with her to Kathmandu, leaving the other three with their father.

Her mother started working in a carpet factory and spins wool at home.  She also works as a housemaid in the morning and in the evening.  Akina prepares food for the family every morning and evening and also makes yarn to help her mother.

We tell you this story not for pity but rather to show just how far your support goes.

Three years ago LSF program brought her to Shantiniketan school.  Her school performance has sky rocketed.  Her confidence has exploded. Akina is very motivated and she stands first in her class.  She wants to be a doctor.


Chanda's Story:

Chanda's family comes from the eastern part of Nepal. 

She is the youngest daughter of three.  Chanda also has a much younger brother.  Her mother is a housewife and her father is a nominal employee in the Forestry Department. 

Chanda's family was extremely poor. As such there was not enough money for food for the table, let alone left-over money to pay tuition fees for the girls.  Her mother is literate, and she realized the importance of education for her daughters. Chanda's mom  searched for ways to support her daughters in their quest for knowledge.  She found the Little Sisters Fund which enabled Chanda to enroll in a school through the support of an American sponsor, Ms. Kay.

Through the influence of the LSF, Chanda's family has been changed.  Her siblings became hard working and attended school. They all are conscious of hygiene and sanitation and work to raise awareness in the community in the areas of girls' education and health.  They have become an example to all other girls in the program.  Her oldest Sister, Bindhaya has just graduated from nursing school.

Chanda has just appeared in her S.L.C (School leaving certificate) exam, which follows completion of the 10th grade and is also known as the iron-gate in Nepal's education system.  Everyone expects her to pass this exam which will pave the way for future vocational training resulting in financial independence.

She is a good girl.  She is tolerant and amicable with her friends.  She has a wonderful sense of humor. It is so fulfilling to watch girls like Chanda flourishing in the midst of hardship.  Chanda is very thankful to Kay whom she considers her Godmother. 


Manju's Story:

Manju lives with her parents in a small village of Gokarna - about 10 miles from Kathmandu.

She has a younger brother and a younger sister. They all go to a nearby government school. Her father, when employed, is a mason and does not make enough money to support the family.  Thus, Manju's mom also works as a field hand and in her spare time, she spins raw cotton into thread/yarn and sells it to carpet factories. Sometimes Manju helps her mother spin.

The family lives in a small mud hut. Although all the other houses in the area have electricity, Manju's does not as the family cannot afford the electrical wiring necessary to bring electricity into the home. For lighting, the family uses oil lamps and for cooking, they use an open wood-burning fire.

Manju's mother is a strong believer in education but had no money to pay school expenses for her children. Due to this, Manju was taken out of school for nearly a year. In the spring of 2007, one of the Little Sisters Fund administrators visited Gokarna and heard Manju's story. After studying her case thoroughly, Manju was accepted into the Little Sisters Fund.

Today all the three children are in school. Manju is supported by the Fund, and the school has provided a scholarship to Manju's sister, since Manju's expenses are being supported by the LSF.  Thus the family only has to pay for Manju's brother's education. Manju's mother is overjoyed knowing her three children are in school.

Today Manju is a budding student and is excelling in the new school.  The family is extremely grateful for LSF support of Manju, which resulted in the education of all three children.