A “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” evening of socializing, shopping, entertainment, food and drink in Bethany Beach will benefit girls thousands of miles away who just want an education.
The irony of that is not lost on the event’s coordinators, Harriett Nettles and Sedona restaurant owner Marion Parrott.
The event, scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 1, is a fundraiser for the Helambu Education & Livelihood Project (HELP), which seeks to build schools in remote parts of Nepal. Helambu, Nettles said, is “one of the poorest and most illiterate regions of Nepal. The only way to get there is to trek from Katmandu.”
Nettles, who lives in Asheville, N.C., first traveled to Nepal as a volunteer with Children of the Earth. There, she said, she met a young man named Jimmy Lama, who was the first person in his village to graduate from secondary school and had started HELP as a way to give back to his community.
The schools’ focus is on educating girls from the region, so that they might have a better chance of avoiding a fate common to girls there.
“Women in this area are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking,” Nettles said, “because they are uneducated, very poor and very beautiful.”
Young girls are often lured across the border into India with promises of jobs, and many end up in brothels, Nettles said. They want to help provide income for their families, but their options are limited by their lack of schooling.
“That’s why educating these girls is so important, so that they’re able to get a job and they are valuable to their family,” she said.
The “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” fundraiser will benefit scholarship funds for the Helambu schools. There is currently funding for 70 scholarships, but 350 girls apply for them each year. Nettles said she hopes to not only provide scholarships for more girls, but to make the scholarships themselves more complete.
“They are very meager scholarships,” she noted.
Parrott first met Nettles when Nettles visited Sedona with a friend who had a home in Bethany Beach. The two women bonded over their experiences in Nepal. Parrott said she had done similar “Girls” fundraisers for years to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, in honor of a friend who died from the disease. She said she hadn’t held them for several years, but last summer, “Harriett and I were talking about the girls in Nepal,” and the idea to resurrect the fundraiser was born.
“I said, ‘I know of a way’” to raise funds for HELP, Parrott said.
Parrott’s eyes were opened to the plight of girls in Nepal when she traveled there on a trek in 2013, she said.
“I went over to climb and hike and just see the country. When I got over there, I realized how much people needed,” she said. “The simple things that we take for granted, they just don’t have.”
“We’re a privileged lot that lives down here,” Parrott said.
“People say, ‘Why are you bothering with Nepal?’ when there is so much need in this country,” Nettles said. The answer, she said, is that the need there is so great. “Need is relative, and as Americans, we are so fortunate,” she said.