It’s a hot day but trees shade the concrete meeting shelter in which we sit, along with around forty children, aged from seven to seventeen and a handful of parents and teachers. The kids of Sagarmatha Child Club are eager to talk about their lives, their club, and their hopes for the future.

During the meeting, many of the children speak with confidence, passion and insight. A few smile shyly, hiding their mouths behind their hands. But when the meeting is over, most of them mug and pose extravagantly for photos and insist on taking selfies with us on the handful of mobile phones among the group. To be quite honest, I had not expected to be an accidental tiktok star in Nepal at 50 years of age. 

Through its Child & Adolescent Wellbeing Project, INF Australia partner WACT [Welfare Association for Children Tikapur] has reached out among poor and marginalised families to form 46 child clubs and adolescents’ groups across two Rural Municipalities of Kailali District. 

Formed just seven months ago, the energy and enthusiasm among the Sagarmatha Child Club is evident. The chair of the group, Nabin Bishwakarma, speaks proudly of what they have already achieved.

They regularly contribute to clean-up efforts in the wider community and are developing their understanding of issues like child marriage and drug and alcohol abuse. Raising awareness among themselves and the wider community, they perform public street dramas about the dangers of drug use and abuse; they’re using local noticeboards to help their communities hear the voices of children.

Despite coming from mostly low-caste and ethnic groups that have historically been discriminated against, the children are thoughtful about identity. 

Nabin says, “Caste identity is fine. It’s good to know who you are. But discrimination is not OK. We do not accept that for anyone.”

These might seem like small steps, but the sense of hope among the children and their commitment to work together for the common good lifts my heart. Jesus’ words echo in my mind, that God’s kingdom belongs to children just like these.

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