Early in the partnership with a new village, Shanta staff spend significant time discussing what projects the villagers think will make long-lasting poverty reduction for themselves. What are their priorities to accomplish during their 6-year partnership with Shanta Foundation? How can we support them to create sustainable change?
Along with leadership development, implementing community banks, women’s empowerment, and income generation, we always plan infrastructure projects, too. You may think their first desire is for a consistent, clean water source for everyone in the village to easily access outside their doors. Or electricity to light their homes. Or a health center for quick care for those who fall ill or are injured.
But almost all villages that have a school identify teacher housing as a priority. Roads are commonly not passable during the rainy season, and the village is a significant distance from larger towns where qualified teachers come from. And, with the current political instability, teachers are more reluctant than ever to commute. If teacher housing already exists, it is in disrepair with leaking bamboo roofing, dirt floors, cramped, and no comforts. This deters teachers even more from wanting to work in these remote villages, leaving the job to someone from the village who cares for the children but is not necessarily qualified to provide an education.
Building teacher housing is a costly program as materials must be brought in from a great distance and are expensive. But, with the villagers’ commitment and volunteer labor, structures are planned and built to house several educators with comfortable, private rooms, a shared living space with a kitchen, and a private lavatory. These projects typically take several months to complete, but once finished, house teachers who are committed to providing quality education, even welcoming children into their homes for after-hours tutoring and support. The village is proud to be able to offer teachers these accommodations and value the lasting education provided to their children to help build their paths out of poverty for permanent change.