We have a strong focus and interest in education and youth engagement. However, we believe in a holistic approach to development and work on initiatives that improve provisions in other service areas, such as health and employment.
We believe that the local people have most of the answers they may just need a platform, or a bit of outside inspiration. Asking the right questions is key to our work and understanding how best to help a community.
We only partner with communities that exhibit passionate local engagement and that have strong, honest people who can carry the project activities forward in to the future. These leaders genuinely want to help their communities and are not driven by financial or political gain.
We believe that through through sensitive training and consultation, the leaders of the communities can become empowered to implement activities by themselves.
Cycling around the backwaters of the Cambodian countryside, the BEGAP director, Lissa, was adamant after being turned away by other charities that she was going to find a school or monastery that she could volunteer at. After cycling around for hours in the humid Monsoon weather, gasping for water and low on sugar levels, she pulled into a place that looked like it could provide her with some energy.
There is no such thing as coincidences.
Immediately, a local woman turned to Lissa and asked her why she had stopped. On explaining that she was looking to volunteer somewhere, the woman smiled and pointed to the building Lissa had stopped at and announced; ‘This is my school and we need help’. Lissa quickly rounded up a number of volunteers to help paint a huge mural on the side of the school. This had the double outcome of teaching the students English through art and advertising the schools existence which enticed visitors into the school and helped to raise funds.
This was the beginning of BEGAP.
Only six months later Lissa traveled with a fellow anthropologist and friend to a tribal community on the foothills of the North East Indian Himalayas in the remote forests on the border of India and Bhutan. After two weeks living there and running a small “play to learn” programme , she was invited back by the leaders of this community to help with their education. She could never have imagined that it would spiral into implementing one of West Bengals’ first multi-lingual education and cultural heritage centres.
To this day, BEGAP continues to focus its energies on these two communities as we believe in long term relationships, developing lasting trust and respect between both parties.