Why are costs relatively high at Little Bells?
1) Better livelihood options and environmental health
Little Bells Promiseland Home is venturing to resolve a serious situation for the livelihood of children. If the home is situated in urban centres with easier and cheaper access to education, health and Government services, it will mean the children will only have exposure, education and skills to survive in an urban context.
This means the children can only function in an urban, socioeconomic, environmental, city life style. This will set them up to be dependent on urban employment to survive and succeed. With the high urban unemployment in Nepal and the typical over-population and environment pollution known in cities, there are two good reasons NOT TO locate Little Bells in an urban location:
- High risk of resorting to crime, vice or becoming a victim of human trafficking
- Reduce the pressure on urban job market and city over-crowding and pollution by developing skills to develop the agricultural and trekking/tourism sectors.
That is why Little Bells Home is situated in a semi-rural area which has an agricultural and trekking-tourism environment. Little Bells management is committed to develop program for the residential children (and children from the surrounding communities) to build a varied set of skills and livelihood options for the children as they grow up.
There are also other advantages for the children, which are:
- Healthier organic nutrition and good air quality
- Return back to nature and learn about environmental care and renewal energy
- Appreciate the ethnic rural culture and hold to traditional Nepali cultural values of harmony, mutual-respect, honor and etc
2) Costs in a semi-rural location
The above reasons make up the main basis for why Little Bells Promiseland Home is located in a semi-rural area along the famous Annapurna II trekking route. However even though some of the costs will be slightly cheaper (such as vegetables and farm produce) many other costs are higher:
- Cost of transportation costs: many items (such as furniture, recreational items, equipment (solar panels, generator, lightning arrestor), construction, electrical, fencing, cement, gas containers, books, clothes/uniform, utensils, groceries, toiletries, basic medication etc) need to be transported by road and then by porters or mule packs. This cost is added to the basic cost of each item. It also means there will be delays.
- Cost of health screening: each child needs a complete health screening to ensure his/her well being. This involves extra travel for children and staff during regular visits to health services in Pokhara.
- Cost of Government services: there are necessary additional commute cost to and from Pokhara and/or Kathmandu for electricity, social service registration , child enrolment/registration, security clearance etc.
- Cost of specialized services: tailoring of school uniforms or experts for setup of renewal energy, solar, water engineering, vocational skills development have to be compensated for their time and travel costs.
- Costs of scarcity: Vendors to for maintenance/repair of buildings, electrical system, water system, solar system, cooking equipment, heating system etc hard to find in semi-rural districts and therefore a premium needs to be paid for their time and services to get necessary help.
- Costs of contingencies: When a child needs medical attention or hospitalization, or if there is a need to evacuate due to dangerous inclement weather, the funds set aside for such situations are higher because of the distances and types of transport involved. If we can find reliable insurance agencies who are willing to give coverage, it will be at a higher premium.
Though the above costs has resulted in higher sponsorship level for each child, the benefits for the child to have more livelihood options and healthier environment outweighs such costs. We hope this objective will also be taken up by other children’s homes.
The Little Bells management will continue to monitor the expenses and costs and hope to lower the cost of sustaining a child at Little Bells. We expect prices to come down as economic development increases in Nepal with improvements in infrastructure, transportation systems and accessibility to basic services in the rural areas of Nepal.