The Beginning of BAJ
Established in 2016, “Bhabishya and Jamarko for Nepal (BAJ)” is a student group founded by six undergraduate students who met at AP House, the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) on-campus dormitory. The BAJ members took subjects in development studies and international relations. While reflecting on what they had learned in class, they concluded that there had to be something they could do to give back to the world.
BAJ started off with an intercultural exchange initiative that introduced the culture of Japan to Mohariya Bandipur Believers English School (MBBES). Current BAJ leader Sakura Akiyama (College of Asia Pacific Studies, 3rd Year) has stayed connected with MBBES via exchange activities since she was a high school student.
When the BAJ members visited MBBES in 2016, they were welcomed by 125 students, ranging from preschool to junior high. The children listened attentively as they learned for the first time about Japanese culture. Seeing the children having fun with origami and other cultural activities, the BAJ members deepened their resolve to provide some type of support for the children.
MBBES is a small school situated in the Nepalese town of Bandipur. It was established in 2005 to give poor children the opportunity to receive an education. Through their exchange activity, the BAJ members learned that the school faced many problems. One such problem was a deficiency in classrooms and other facilities. Most of the children who commute to MBBES come from families who lead a subsistence lifestyle. For that reason, they are only capable of paying minimum tuition fees, and the school accordingly struggles to provide the necessary environment due to a lack of funds. MBBES does not have a library, nor does it have a science lab. Although the school has computers for the children to study information science, it lacks the facilities to properly use them.