|projects & activities
Working With Roots & Shoots Nepal
The South Asia Children’s Fund enjoys a close working relationship with Dr Jane Goodall DBE, the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and a UN Messenger of Peace. Dr Goodall has been described as “a heroine in an age of without heroes" and as "one of the ten most influential women of all time". Dr. Stephen Jay Gould referred to Dr. Goodall’s research on chimpanzee behaviour in Tanzania as “one of the great scientific achievements of the 20th century.”
The South Asia Children’s Fund has supported the work of Dr Jane Goodall’s youth movement, Roots & Shoots Nepal with a focus on environmental education, and the tutoring of child domestic workers. At the request of Peter Dalglish and Manoj Gautam, Dr Goodall visited Nepal in November 2005, November 2007 and February 2009. On all three occasions Dr Goodall met with scientists and NGO representatives, addressed gatherings of concerned citizens, and provided inspired leadership for Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers.
Since its founding by Manoj Gautam in 2002, Roots & Shoots Nepal has emerged as one of the most respected conservation groups in the country, and has taken action on a number of key issues. In 2002 Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers launched a project designed to end the practice of using poisons to kill and catch fish in Nepal’s rivers and streams. The practice has now been terminated on account of support from local municipalities, and media attention.
In June 2007 Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers initiated a ‘School Level Tree Nursery Program’ in Kathmandu. The idea is to demonstrate to young school children the importance of planting and looking after trees. The project continues to date and involves eight schools.
Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers regularly visit Kathmandu’s crowded markets in search of reptiles kept illegally by snake charmers. In 2006 Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers launched a project with the support of the District Forest Office of Kathmandu to repossess these snakes (including 10-foot long pythons) and to release them in protected areas. Between 2006 and October 2009 Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers have rescued and released more than 200 rare snakes, including cobras, rat snakes, kraits, and royal snakes.
In 2007 Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers launched an innovative Vulture Conservation Program. The birds are perishing in large numbers on account of the use of the veterinarian drug Diclofenac as an anti-inflammatory for cattle. Roots & Shoots, youth volunteers have visited dozens of informal veterinarian shops, which are widespread in rural areas of Nepal, informing their employees of the risks posed by Diclofenac to vultures. The reception from most of these informal veterinarians has been positive. The campaign has produced concrete results: the Drug Administration Department of the Government of Nepal banned the sale of Diclofenac in 2007.
As a second step, Roots & Shoots Nepal youth volunteers established a ‘vulture restaurant’ in western Nepal at which safe carcasses of domestic animals are made available as food for the vulture population. This ground-breaking initiative has been featured in Nepal’s electronic and print media, in the New York Times, and most recently on the BBC World Service.
In the winter of 2009, with the financial and technical support of members of Roots & Shoots Australia, Manoj Gautam and his associates constructed a wildlife sanctuary on their newly acquired land located near Nargarkot, one of the most beautiful towns anywhere in the Himalayas, 25 KM north east of Kathmandu. The sanctuary is a safe haven for animals that have come into conflict with human settlements, including two leopard cubs that had been separated from their mother.
In 2005 Manoj Gautam, the founder of Roots & Shoots Nepal worked with Peter Dalglish to conceive and launch an innovative and cost-effective project for working children: He linked Roots & Shoots Nepal with the British Council to provide basic education for child domestic workers, primarily girls between the ages of nine and 14, all living in central Kathmandu.
The classes were held within the British Council premises three times per week. All the instructors were university-age Roots & Shoots Nepal volunteers. This was the first time that the children, all of them separated from their families and working full-time, had received any kind of instruction. The project won accolades from the former Chair of the British Council, Sir David Green, and from John Fry, the British Council Country Manager in Nepal at the time. In June 2008 Peter Dalglish wrote a piece about the project for the International Herald Tribune on the occasion of the World Day against Child Labour.
See Peter’s article at
In her meetings with the British Council in Nepal and India, Dr Jane Goodall expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative, hoping that it might serve a model for Roots & Shoots/British Council cooperation in other countries. Unfortunately in 2009 the British Council in Nepal terminated their support for classes for working children on their premises in Kathmandu, stating that it did not “conform to our mandate as an organization.”
Undeterred by this decision, the Roots & Shoots youth volunteers in Nepal in October 2009 began classes in their own offices for working children, with their own limited resources. They are now seeking a donor with an interest in education for working children so that the programme can be expanded, and more girls and boys can win access to education.
It is the shared belief of Roots & Shoots Nepal and the South Asia Children’s fund that all organizations working with children in the developing world should do their part to ensure that the UN Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education by 2015 can be achieved. Let’s shift the British Council to the 21st century!