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A meaningful Mother’s Day gift idea: First Steps Himalaya

Looking for a meaningful Mother’s Day gift that will please Mum but not impact the environment?

Nelson-based charity First Steps Himalaya has a range of stunning eCards for Mother’s Day which are environmentally friendly, quick, easy and support a very genuine and worthwhile cause. Simply select your Mother’s Day card online, donate the amount you would have spent on a physical gift or card and your selected eCard is delivered to your inbox, ready to be send on to Mum.

Every mum wants the best education for her children and when First Steps Himalaya founder, Fionna Heiton was living in Nepal with her two small twins, she was shocked and saddened by the early childhood education options available for young Nepali children.

“All across Nepal, in almost every rural school I saw, young children were receiving sub-standard education. “ Fionna recalls. “The little children were sitting in dark, dirty classrooms taught by untrained and demotivated teachers.” Fionna and her Nepali partner Durga Aran were determined to make a change. Together they raised funds and travelled to the village of Sangachok, nestled in the hills where Durga grew up to create the first of many quality Early Childhood Centres.

Durga Aran and Fionna Heiton of First Steps Himalaya

For over 11 years, First Steps Himalaya has developed existing classrooms from bare, dark, dirt-floored spaces to bright, clean, carpeted rooms filled with books, papers, crayons and quality, culturally-appropriate learning resources.

But a refurbished classroom is only part of the puzzle. “The real key to transforming the lives of young Nepali children,” says Fionna “is the actual teacher and the way she interacts with the young children in her care.”

The team built a teacher-training centre in 2015, and now run effective, hands-on teacher training courses across Nepal, empowering rural teachers. After learning how to make resources from things they can find in their village, teachers can then transform their own classrooms into safe and stimulating learning environments for their young pupils.  

To support the work of the charity, Fionna and Durga created a successful social enterprise Beyond The Clouds Travel which ran tours and treks in the beautiful Himalaya region. This covered the running costs of First Steps Himalaya until COVID-19 changed everything.

“With global travel in disarray and all tours cancelled for the foreseeable future,” says Fionna, “We have had to come up with something appealing that could generate much-needed funds without people having to leave home.” 

That’s where the eCards come in. “The idea has been a great success! Over Christmas, people around the world were sending our eCards to their loved ones instead of posting physical gifts,” says Fionna “I think the world is changing. People are more conscious of their environmental footprint and are wanting to make meaningful changes in their lives.”

If you would like to send an eCard to your Mum this Mother’s Day, and make a difference in the lives of young village children in Nepal visit firststepshimalaya.org/ecard-mothers-day.

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