Help needed to build school in Nepal

Sep. 19—Jesse Bolinger is looking for help to build a school in Nepal. And he's working on a plan to have area people who donate to the cause to visit and see their work.

Using resources from the Creston Lions Club, which has connections to its international organization, Bolinger is hoping to raise $150,000 to build a school in Nepal. But it will only take half that amount for the actual construction. He wants to raise additional funds to help pay for transportation for local contributors to be able to visit the work site and country.

"That way they can assist with construction and have some cultural experiences," he said.

While attending Graceland in Lamoni 20 years ago, Bolinger said he met another student from Nepal. After his time at Graceland, he learned of Michelle Hackman from Great Neck, New York, who had an interest in building schools in developing countries.

"I threw it on my bucket list," Bolinger said about the Nepal school idea. "So what if it is this year," he added about starting the fundraising.

Bolinger said he has contacted members of the Creston Lions club about the idea. Lions International has matching grants valued at $100,000. Should the idea develop into having donors visit Nepal, Bolinger prefers to have Creston Lions club members and youth younger than 18 included. He is hoping to have the trip in summer 2025.

Bolinger has a history of volunteer and charitable work. After learning more about Nepal and its people, he said the school idea in Nepal is "somewhere where it made sense."

Bolinger said buildOn has been behind school projects in other countries. For more than 30 years, buildOn has worked to end poverty and illiteracy through service and education. The organization uses youth from under resourced schools across the United States to help change their communities through service in developing countries.

According to information from buildOn, Nepal has a population of 4.5 million who are living below the poverty line of $1.90 a day. Nearly 10 million people in the country are illiterate. Agriculture is a popular field of work for the residents as only 20% of the country is suitable for farming.

"Investing in education and literacy plays a crucial role in raising families out of poverty and equipping the next generation to address systemic issues affecting their communities and country," according to buildOn.

Further research by Bolinger showed how common it is for Nepal students to walk 2 miles to school. The villages were schools are built have agreements to treat boys and girls equally with education and offer the buildings in the evenings for adult literacy and education courses. Nepal's education department will eventually be responsible for the school.

According to its information, buildOn has built more than 2,000 schools in places like Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua and Senegal.

Those who are interested in the project can contact Bolinger at (641) 202-6083.