Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)


Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)

Cynthia Boruchowicz, a national of Argentina, is a second year PhD student at Maryland’s School of Public Policy (MSPP) specializing in international development. Her research involves the analysis of spending policies and their effect on labor markets. She holds a BA in Economics from Universidad del CEMA (Argentina) and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.  Prior to starting her PhD studies, Cynthia worked at the Inter-American Development Bank. She first was a Research Fellow at the Research Department working on issues related to housing, urban development and crime in Latin America and the Caribbean. She worked then as a Development Effectiveness Officer within the private sector of the Bank, where she provided development impact analysis for the operations of her division. Her previous experience includes positions at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and at the Economic Section of the Embassy of the United States in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Cynthia's Peace Fellowship consisted of supporting a Nepali NGO named CONCERN in its mission to end child labor in local brick factories. After spending 10-weeks with CONCERN, Cynthia said, "I went to Nepal hoping to provide professional services to a local NGO, and in that way contribute to their capacity building. I ended up gaining more professional and personal skills than I've could ever imagined. Nepal and CONCERN will always have a special place in my heart".



The perfect week: meeting CONCERN’s kids!

16 Jun
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Preparing the questionnaires with Sarita and Manita who were amazing during the interviews

This week has been the most rewarding one since I arrived in Kathmandu. I finally got to meet some of CONCERN’s beneficiaries: children with hard life stories but huge smiles in their faces and big dreams for their future.

For those of you who do not remember, CONCERN rescues children from illegal work at stone quarries and brick kilns (where their parents are also employed) and puts them back in school. Over the years CONCERN has developed a relationship with the owners of different brick factories in Nepal. With a lot of effort and perseverance, the field officers go every year to the factories to explain their project to both its owners and the parents of the children who live within the premises. Their mission is simple: CONCERN funds the schooling expenses of the kids (which includes mandatory fees the government charges, uniforms and stationary) and in exchange children stop overturning bricks inside the kilns, arranging them in piles for them to dry, flipping over the bricks, and carrying them – or any other sort of employment.

Even though the project seems simple, it is easier said than done. Most of the children who work at the kilns and quarries come to the Kathmandu Valley from distant places like Ramechhap. They come with their parents who migrate looking for better opportunities, and end up also being employed and skipping school. NGO’s like CONCERN work hard to give a childhood back to these kids and to ensure they have better opportunities for their future.

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Handing over funds to Dhahahi Bushik School’s headmaster

With this in mind, I faced my two-day visit to Bhaktapur (another city an hour away from Kathmandu). In those two days we went to three different schools, interviewed 20 kids who are currently in the program along with their teachers, interviewed some of the parents and distributed the funds to each school headmaster to cover for the children’s fees.  A tailor also came with us and took the measures of the kids for their new uniforms!

Before getting to Bhaktapur, I was a little nervous. Not only because I had to ride a motorcycle to get there, but also because the job wasn’t easy.  We needed to talk to the kids and see how they were doing in school, if they were still working in the kilns and know more about their family situation. I had done many interviews to beneficiaries of different social programs in the past, but never in a language that I don’t speak at all (and therefore with the help of a translator) and never to kids. What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t want to answer personal questions to a person they have never seen before?

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Interviewing children at Bhazeshwana School

All of my fears went away the moment I set foot in the first school. I suddenly realized kids are kids everywhere. Yes, they might be shy at the beginning. Yes, they might be scared of strangers and dubious about answering personal questions given their background. But kids can also read you, no matter the language you speak. It only took us two minutes before we were all laughing together and taking funny pictures and videos. Some of them spoke enough English to tell me how much they adored Messi – I have to really thank him for making my life so much easier in Nepal…everyone here loves Messi and therefore Argentina! They also wanted to know more about my country, about my family (for some reason they were obsessed with knowing my parents’ names) and about the animals we have back home. I showed them some pictures of penguins and sea lions I had on my phone from a recent trip to Patagonia and they were thrilled!

Interviews went smoothly. They left me a bittersweet feeling though, as a couple of kids are still working at the kilns, helping their parents. However, overall children seem to be doing well in school and they all recognized the value of education for their future. When we asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up, being doctors or teachers were the most popular choices (one of them even told us he wanted to be a pilot!). I really hope their dreams can become true some day.

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Ashmita and Amrita with their dad. Ashmita wants to be a Nepali teacher when she grows up, while her older sister wants to be an office manager (permission was granted to publish picture & information)

 

Posted By Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)

Posted Jun 16th, 2017

14 Comments

  • LG

    June 16, 2017

     

    Hey Cynthia!!!! Me encanta tu blog, que bueno que estes en Nepal teniendo esta experiencia. Veo que la estas pasando genial!!! Me alegra mucho por vos y me muero por leer la proxima publicacion. Este blog es una buena forma de conocer el programa Concern, y como se esta ayudando a proveer mejores oportunidades educativas a estos chicos!!! Seguire al tanto y disfruta mucho tu tiempo alli!!!
    Un abrazote!!!

    LG

    • Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)

      June 30, 2017

       

      Hola LG! Muchas gracias por tu mensaje y por leer el blog! Me alegra mucho que puedas conocer el programa a traves de mis posts!! Un beso grande

  • Maris

    June 16, 2017

     

    Cyn, I loved this post! The work you are doing is so important, I hope those kids can follow their dreams! Keep up the good work and the good posts! Besos!

    • Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)

      June 30, 2017

       

      Muchas gracias Maris por tu mensaje!!!! Big kiss

  • Ursula quijano

    June 16, 2017

     

    Cyn suena increible todo, que padre que estas alla y que puedas colaborar con los Concern y beneficiar a los niños

  • Virginia

    June 17, 2017

     

    Meeting beneficiaries is the best, especially when they’re kids! They seem to be happy in school, and it must be very inspiring to hear they have such great aspirations for their future. Keep up the good work, Cynthia!

    • Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)

      June 30, 2017

       

      Thank you so much for your message! I agree that meeting the beneficiaries is the best part of our job!

  • Karen Delaney

    June 19, 2017

     

    Cynthia, another great blog! I’m sure it must have been great to finally meet the beneficiaries of the program. I look forward to reading their updated profiles to lear the impact CONCERN has has in their lives. Best from DC

    • Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)

      June 30, 2017

       

      Thanks Karen! It was great meeting the kids and get to learn their stories!

  • Iain Guest

    June 27, 2017

     

    What a nice blog! This project is all about getting to know these 50 children and following them up. I’m sure that with your friendly approach you’ll do this brilliantly. It is a bit of a concern that two of them seem to be working, even though they are also going to school. What can be done about that?

    • Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)

      June 30, 2017

       

      Thanks Iain for your message! Being with the kids was an amazing experience. The economic difficulties some of these families face are serious, and therefore the problem of child labor is not an easy one to solve. But being able to go to school is the first step to build a better future for these kids!

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