24 - 30 October 2014 #729

Round Table Nepal

A round table not for political talks, but rather for service through fellowship.
Elvin L Shrestha

Politicians are always calling for a ‘roundtable meeting’ to forge a consensus on the constitution, but the social service organisation Round Table Nepal (RTN) has been at it since 1989 to promote service through fellowship. The organisation provides a platform for the young to make the most out of their spare time and take part in corporate social responsibility activities.

Today, RTN has 280 members between the ages of 18 and 40. “Young people are the agents of change for Nepal’s future development, and they have a responsibility towards society,” says Akash Golchha who started heading RTN this year. RTN is different from other service organisations like Rotary and Lions in that it has younger members. RTN is one of the over 65 Round Tables all over the world that are a part of Round Table International. Round Table members meet regularly, discuss and network with other Tablers across the globe.

RTN has focused on schools through its Freedom Through Education to improve the quality of instruction in Nepal. Golchha explains: “Education is a priority sector that needs to be developed not just to make children self-reliant, but also so it can be a catalyst for overall development of the country.”

Rather than simply giving cash money as donations, RTN builds and upgrades infrastructure for schools all over Nepal. Recently, in collaboration with Round Table Switzerland, RTN raised Rs 2.5 million to build eight classrooms for Jhor Mahakal School in Kathmandu which will benefit 400 students every year. RTN has so far helped over 30 government schools in areas like Bhairawa, Birganj, Parsa, Morang, Biratnagar and Madi by building and providing hostels, classrooms, toilets, furniture and drinking water facilities.

There are 19 ‘Tables’ throughout Nepal, each with between 15 to 25 members, each focusing on different service projects. Tablers meet every month to discuss reports, plans and project funds. They organise fund-raising events, and explore sponsors for their education work. Golchha is proud that RTN has zero overhead, all the money raised goes directly into implementing projects and is not diverted for administrative expenses.

RTN is currently planning an annual Carnival and Go-kart Competition in December, and the proceeds will be used for its Freedom Through Education initiative. A similar event last year raised Rs 1,600,000.Occasionally, international sponsors and other Round Tables in Europe also support education projects in Nepal through RTN.

In 2016, RTN is hosting a World Meet in Kathmandu which more than 400 Tablers from different Round Tables are expected to attend.

Currently, the average age of Nepali members of RTN is around 37. Golchha hopes to bring this down to twenties. He says: “We are continuously looking for new members, sponsors and schools. Service through fellowships is not just a social engagement project, it is making friends, networking and learning as well.”

www.roundtablenepal.org

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