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Building classroooms in the clouds

302. Mike Hagen
303. Sarah Hagen

Have dedicated over 7 years between them to advancing the education of rural Nepalese children.

In 2008, Mike and Sarah Hagen, age 57 and 59, were inspired to improve the education of children in Nepal after they trekked in the region. Soon after they visited, they became Trustees of the charity ‘Classroom in the Clouds’ which was established in 2007 dedicated to supporting education in the remote areas of Nepal.  Mike and Sarah have been part of a small group of volunteers inspired by fellow Nepalese Trustee, Dawa Geljen Sherpa, who support education through the building of schools, the sponsoring of teachers and the development of educational standards. Mike is currently the Chair of Trustees and Sarah the Secretary and education advisor.

The charity has built 28 classrooms in four different rural locations across Nepal and sponsor 7 local teachers to work in them. The classrooms are built wherever possible with local materials sourced from the local community and the charity asks for a 20% local investment to give the community a sense of ownership and responsibility towards maintaining the school. There is a particular emphasis on promoting more women role models as, traditionally, girls are more likely to fall out of education.

Mike, a former Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Sarah a former early years trained teacher, are the latest recipients of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

Mike and Sarah value the local customs and traditions of rural Nepalese communities and seek to preserve them through education, helping to stem the flow of pupils to the capital, Kathmandu, where they are often sent to complete their education.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

‘The work that Sarah and Mike are doing in Nepal is giving hundreds of children every year the chance to learn. The 28 classrooms they have built in some of the most rural areas mean children aren’t forced to choose between going to school or staying with their family and community.  They are an inspiration to us all and I am delighted to be able to recognise their service by making them both UK Points of Light.’

Sarah said:

My regular visits to schools in Nepal has shown me how much local people in Nepal value education and want better opportunities for their children. The support from Classrooms in the Clouds means that more children can enjoy education in their local community and build their own futures.”

Mike said:

Nepal is a beautiful country but a very poor country that is still recovering from the recent tragic earthquakes.  So many people both here in the UK and further afield provide generous support to Classrooms in the Clouds enabling the charity to make a real difference in rural Nepal.  Supporters can be reassured that their donations are spent wisely and our overseen by our friends in Nepal through our registered NGO.”

Local MP, Margaret Greenwood, said:

“I want to warmly congratulate Sarah and Mike Hagen, whose outstanding volunteer work in Nepal has rightly been given public recognition by a Points of Lights Award from the UK Government.

“Sarah and Mike are driving forces behind the Classroom in the Clouds organisation that helps build classrooms, sponsor teachers and provide resources and training so that children in remote areas of Nepal don’t miss out on the chance of an education.

“The vital work that they do is needed more than ever: the recent earthquake in Nepal destroyed over 342,000 classrooms – a terrible blow to one of the poorest countries in the world. Even before that catastrophe, less than half of girls attended primary school.

“With the number of children out of school worldwide on the rise, it’s inspiring that Sarah and Mike are devoting themselves to giving children in Nepal the chance to experience the joy of learning and the hope of a better life.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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