The Himanchal Education Foundation is a non-profit organization that exists to promote and advance Mahabir Pun’s vision for extended educational opportunities in rural Nepal.
With the support of local residents and international friends, HEF originally was founded to support growth of the Nangi school. The school exists through grade 12 with plans to add a college by 2015. HEF also supports economically sustainable business opportunities and a computer network in Nangi and surrounding villages. Our goal remains to improve the health and life situations for villagers in rural Nepal.
We will greatly appreciate hearing from you. Please send an email to Peg Nyffeler with your contact information including email. We will send you our quarterly newsletter with all the latest news and updates on all the projects. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed of this site.
A long time supporter of HEF, Sherwood, describes how he first heard about HEF and met Mahabir Pun.
When did you first hear about or meet Dr. Mahabir Pun?
My wife and I met Mahabir in Nangi Village in 1995, when our Annapurna trek was washed out by torrential rains, and we took refuge in several classrooms of the Nangi school, where Mahabir taught…serendipitous. We stayed several days to dry out, then finished our trek up to Kopra Ridge. While in Nangi, Mahabir expounded on his plans for the village. We thought that he had more simultaneous ideas than most people could consider in a lifetime. After we returned to the USA we contacted Leonard Skov, HEF’s then-president, and learned more about Mahabir and HEF. We have supported the organization ever since…over 20 years.
What was your first impression of him?
I first thought that he was a totally crazy man. He was remarkable, singular among the people we met on our travels, and we have met some pretty enterprising folks. Mahabir was a cut above. It wasn’t just that he had a plethora of ideas, but he knew how he would put them into effect. I came to realize that although he was educated in the West, and could have had a successful career there, he was brilliant in adapting first world information into local solutions for rural Nepal. How many people of his intelligence and skills actually return home and apply that information where it is most needed? Not just his compatriots in Nepal, but my life as well, is enriched for having met him.
Do you recall the projects he was working on at that time? If yes, which one left an impression on you personally?
Mahabir understood the importance of local ownership and enterprise. We discussed with him, his plans for a yak and cow breeding/hybridization program, which we eventually supported by donating the money to purchase the herd of cows. He emailed us pictures of Nepalese villagers driving the catttle up to Nangi…what a treat!
What present projects of Dr. Pun’s do you think are sustainable and important to the development of Nepal?
First and foremost is the development of the school system. Also of significance are the village cottage industry projects such as papermaking, the meat and dairy program etc., and then the promotion of tourism.
Why do you continue to support HEF and Dr. Pun?
Why not? I prefer to donate to small projects, rather than large charities. I try to assess where the money is going, and how it will be utilized. HEF is an organization which uses effectively every dollar donated, without chewing up the money in overhead, and the result is the emergence of locally sustainable enterprise.
Do you have advice for people who want to support a non-profit organization such as HEF about how to choose and commit their resources?
We used to donate anonymously, but we don’t do that anymore. We have learned to lead from the front, and not to be embarrassed by putting our names out in public, as caring about a project.
Zachary, from North Carolina, USA, volunteered in June 2016 in Nangi village. He taught wilderness medicine skills to guides, porters, community trek lodge staff, students and local healthcare providers. He shares a meditative page from his journal:
21 June 2016
“Today has been one of the most incredible of my life. It started out fine, woke up and got ready to teach. The day was rainy and crappy all day, but at sunset, it cleared. Completely, totally cleared with the sun and clouds in the lower elevations. Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Annapurna south and Annapurna were all visible together in an unbroken line. It was an incredible sight. I was running to the round house to pick up milk for rice pudding and I saw what was happening with the weather. I couldn’t contain myself. I ran to the roundhouse, got the milk, and was doing parkour moves all the way back down. I dropped it off with Pokmaya and ran to the highest place in Nangi and stayed there until dark.
The mountains were so large and imposing that their black rocks looked slightly blue due to the atmosphere refracting the sunlight. The sun was setting and casting colors all over their sides. The clouds were in the valleys and ravines below Nangi, so it was as if I was flying through the clouds and up to the peaks above. The sun cast its dying light first on Dhaulagiri then Nilgiri, causing snowdrifts to blow off their peaks. Lenticulars were swirling around the Dhaulagiri range. Annapurna was basked in shadow but still completely imposing looking over Nangi. Eventually, the sun started to pass behind the mountains and cast its last alpenglow across the range.
I can’t believe I’m actually here. It’s been 20 years since I first learned about the Himalaya in elementary school, and to think that I’ve finally arrived after all this time is humbling. My time here is wrapping up – 4 days left in Nangi. It’s bittersweet, as always. I want to get back to school and my family. But at the same time, I want to continue teaching these people and continue learning from them. They are the hardiest, friendly, caring, and giving people I have ever met. My work in Haiti comes close in comparison, but this is slightly different. They are resourceful, extremely giving, always sharing and offering. The Haitian people are very similar, however, they live in more abject poverty and have received assistance for many decades. These people, with their mountain lifestyle, the work, views, the community…that’s what is incredible – the community. They work together on everything. School, finances, projects, childcare. Anything to help the community and the people who live in it.
I am glad I emailed and reached out to the organization to get this started, even if it was on the whim of seeing a youtube video. I continue to be amazed by the power and beauty of nature. As I left the lodge, after eating rice pudding and daal baht with Pokmaya and Ramaya, I left to find the solstice moon full and casting its light on Annapurna. Incredible. I walked back by moonlight. Tomorrow I should either be teaching students or traveling to Ramche to teach the health workers there. Either way, I know it will be another great adventure.”
I received an email from Tejendra Magar who is a teacher and community leader in Khani Gaun. He told me about the school he started in this remote district. This is not a HEF project, but I wanted to share his story. He tells a compelling story of how one person can make a difference. He is looking for volunteers to teach in the school and he can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Khani Gaun is most remote village -5 of Adhikarichaur village Development Committee (VDC) Baglung district of Nepal, inhabitant of an ethnic group (Magar). Their primary profession is agriculture and livestock, there is not a school and children are not in access of education. They go to school in another village at the age of 9, 10 and during the rainy season, they cannot go to school because of landslide and flood. There are 45 household and total number of below 10 years’ children are 49 (boys 28, girls 31). They play with dust; some children go to look after livestock instead of school. Community people are backward in terms of socio-economic, not access in the government schemes and benefits due to lack of awareness and illiteracy.
II. Community Involvement
With an initiation of Tejendra Budha Magar, and involvement of community people started a preprimary school building construction in this village, it was very challenging because it took almost a year and people had to go for house work and need to contribute for building construction. In between due to rainy season and people should look after their livestock so we postponed some months and resumed again. There were 45 households and contributed 155 days per house and land was contributed by ex-Indian army Jhag Bahadur Budha Magar, it was amazing labor contribution and highly appreciated by government personnel too. It was officially opened on 1 Jestha 2073 or 14 May 2016.
III. Outcome or progress
33 students have already enrolled and some children are coming from another village too, People are very excited to send their children at this school. Started early child development (ECD) class, nursery and LKG. Using English medium curriculum (English, Math, Nepali, drawing, sports) endorsed by curriculum development center (CDC) Government of Nepal.
This is an impact of education, Mr. Tejendra, who only pass university education from this village and he also went to school at age of 9. He had no way for higher education and left the village during Maoist insurgency in Nepal, struggled a lot for study in capital city. In meant time, he accepted Jesus Christ as personal savior and rejected from his family, he studied his university education by the support from Church. Now he is working with United mission to Nepal as a cluster team leader and initiated to stablish school in his village by understanding importance of education.
Short term: Presently, paying to three teachers’ salary by the support of a church and Tejendra Budha Magar family (Husband and wife by allocating tithe).
Long term: already got the permission from district education office and processing for permanent registration, will be handed over to government in the future for the sustainability and has to take ownership by Government. Technical support will be regular as per my expertise and resource availability.
In the future looking for: Empower the local community as follows
Tap the local resources: community forest, Herbs, different plants, fruits.
Entrepreneur: small cottage industry, Allo: knead handicraft, Dhatelo: for oil, woodfactory, potentiality of Japanese trout fish and local fishpond.
Livestock: hybrid birth by artificial insemination
Agriculture: introducing with improved seed and soil testing, if it is possibledistribute soil health card.
Education: establish good foundation by different teaching methods to children andfocus for technical and vocational education in higher level by providing scholarship or linkage with resources like government schemes. Mobilization of volunteers for learning and sharing on basis of their capability from around globe.
The school building construction of Shree Kanyadevi Lower Secondary School in Pokhari village, Barpak of Gorakha district is almost complete. The school was destroyed by the earthquake. The roof has been placed and the cement plaster of the floor of the rooms and walls are also complete. The villagers completed the work just before the start of the monsoon season. Now the villagers will start the inside work and furnish the rooms. Thank you to the many people who donated funds. You have changed lives.
Over the last few months, Nangi students, guided by their teacher Toya, have been working with an organization called The School Inside. Read about their extraordinary journey to improved English skills through internet learning here.
Hemkumarie: “Namita is one of the former student, who was really dedicated to for study. She also was born and brought up in a peasant family in this Nangi village. She wants to share her sweet and bitter experiences.
My mother works household work as well as farming work. My father is a laborer. He was able to provide me the Bachelor level education with the money from labor work. From my childhood, I was interested in the study and I was intelligent as well .so I kept on holding 1st and 2nd position in each grade. I was difficult for me to buy uniform and stationery as my financial condition at home were very poor. It was very difficult for my father to fulfill the expense for the education of me, my brother and sister. Since I was an intelligent girl and my financial condition was not good at home, I was provided with small scholarship time and again. That supported my education and inspired me that I should study well. I studied hard.
I passed the SLC six years ago. I had to go to Beni ( the nearest town from Nangi and a six hours walk) to take the SLC exam. After the exam, my friends went to Beni or Pokhara to get training on the various subject. But I helped my mother in her household or farming work as I could not go to Pokhara due to my poor financial condition at home. When the result was published, I was able to pass the SLC exam in 1st division I felt so happy at that moment. My parents reacted to my success that their investment in my education was properly utilized and they would forget their hardship.
After SLC, I continued my higher study at Himanchal Higher secondary school in my village in Nangi. After completing my grade 12 education, I went to Pokhara for my bachelor level education. I became successful due to the help of my parents and relatives as well as the scholarship provided by a person from my village who lives in Kathmandu. He provided at least 50,000 rupees each year. when I was studying in bachelor 2nd year. One day I open my Facebook account and saw a photo of my father working in building a suspended bridge, It was tagged by my friend in my village. My father was working by keeping his life in danger. I started weeping remembering that my father was working hard for the education of his children. At that time, I realized my parents as gods.
My parents raise cows, buffaloes, goats etc. at home. So do my relatives. Generally, I have seen the animals giving birth to their kids with four legs. But last month, I surprised very much seeing that the goat of my neighbor, Lalbahadur gave birth to a kid with 3 legs. It amazed me how it had only three legs.”
Hemkumarie: Sangita Pun who was born in Ramche village in a peasant family. She started her education at Deurali Lower Secondary School in Ramche Village. She completed her SLC and graduated 12th education from Himanchal Higher Secondary School. She tells her experiences that happened in her life.
“I start my school life from Deurali Lower secondary school in Ramche .The bygone days were happy. After completing lower secondary level education, I joined in Himachal higher secondary school and continued my study. I work as treasurer in Junior Redcross Circle and participated in different programs .I enjoyed the moments very much. I got success in the SLC and grade 12 examinations which made me excited and encouraged me to further my studies. I had to face many difficulties in the course of getting an education as I am from a poor family. As result, it was very difficult for me to continue my study. When I was in grade 9 it was difficult for me to pay for my tuition fee. Then my mother asked me to stop my study.
But I denied it and continued struggling forward. I passed the SLC and grade 12, I had to go to real classes for practice teaching for a month. at the beginning it was really difficult for me to prepare the daily lesson plan . I didn’t have any idea to prepare the lesson plan as first. It was really problematic for me.
After that, the exam of grade 12 was coming rear. I was busy in self-preparation for the exam. I was at my own home. The time was about 1:00 am 25 April 2015. There was a devastating earthquake. I was alone at home .I started trembling with fear. it was such an event in my life Which I can’t forget forever.”
Hemkumarie: Next former student is Pablar. He was also born and brought up in this Nangi village. He is the only son from an educated family. He completed grade 12 education from this village school. He is now in the B.Ed. 3rd year in Pokhara . He wants to start his life story from one point.
“Time is changeable. There are countless bends and turns in the life of man. There are many rises and falls in the life of man. The life is sometimes full of laughter, sometimes full of sorrow.
Sometimes , I realize my childhood was full of fun. Times were passing with the nature which had no hope no purpose. But when I join the school , I was not able to write words. My parents started beating and I started crying loudly. The moments remained inconvenient. I can remember that I was the nature of jealousy. I used to quarrel with my friends. If they became angry, I couldn’t remain still without friends.
From my childhood , I loved to play football. In the leisure of school, I played football with my friends. When someone asked me, ” what is your aim to be in the future ?”, I used to reply that I would be a great footballer . The events are still in my heart and memory but all are only bygone days. I didn’t take part in any program as I felt weak myself. I was afraid that I would be insulted. Thus, I can’t still talk to others openly. The time was moving forward. I was studying in grade 8.
After Dashain vacation (Dashain is the greatest festival of Hindus), students set a program for an educational tour which had to be led by my father who is a science teacher in Nangi school. My mother and I also participated in the tour. The destination was the border of Nepal and China. It was the part of Tibet. The tour was interesting and joyful as I hadn’t been to a long tour before. The geographical scenery on the way was amazing and strange. The scenes really fascinated me. In this way, I share my experiences.”
Hemkumarie: “Joni is a former student in Nangi who was born and grew up in a simple farmer family of this peaceful and beautiful village. After completing her grade 12 education from Himanchal Higher Secondary School, she has been studying in B.Ed. 3rd year in Pokhara.
Joni shares her story:
“Many different incidents happen in the life of human beings, which are beyond our imagination and unbelievable. It is very difficult to express those incidents in words. What the human beings look like from outside may not be inside. Or we can not express his experiences from his outlook.
Different incidents happened in my life. Some of which are delightful and some are sorrowful. I would like to share some of the experiences. It is said that the SLC (School Leaving Certificate) board exam is the iron gate for the future. When I was studying in grade 10 in 2011, I felt anxious how I could cross the gate. Therefore, I took the SLC exam by working hard. I was curious about how the result would be. After the long waiting of 3 months , the exam result was out. Finally, I passed the exam in the 1st division obtaining 62.5% marks. That moment brought complete happiness in my life .
I came to my village from Pokhara in the winter vacation this year but my grandma had been sick for a long time. She passed away on 6 January 2016. She is no more in this world. This event has made me very sad.
In course of my study , my teacher said that there is a “Google Boy” in Kathmandu . So I searched on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr3ZDRdEOMs. I found the boy, Aditya Dahal, who can’t walk and speak but he can write the correct answer though we ask him in a different language and his prediction never fail. Such a type of video surprised me a lot.”
The students at the Himachal School in Nangi have stories to tell. The science teacher, HemKumarie Pun, has collected four stories from former students who recently graduated from the school. She has written an introduction to the students’ stories which will be published over the next four weeks. Special thanks to Hem for collecting the stories and to Ganga Pun for translating the stories into English. The stories were edited only for grammar and spelling.
HemKumarie’s introduction: “Human life is the chain of happiness and sadness. When a child is born they received the love and affection as well as closeness to their parents. The child continued growing with the help of parents that they care and rear the children. Childhood is so delightful that there is no limitation of cheerfulness. Under the sky, the children play joyfully. They plunge into the imagination. Slowly they mature, get a school education and adjust in the situations of wide society. Now they become a complete human being. But further steps are not easy. They collect different experiences and move forward struggling with many difficulties. The events in life make them sometimes sad and sometimes happy and sometimes they are surprised.
Based on the above-mentioned matters, I requested my former students who completed 12 grade from this school to share their experiences. They have shared the events in their life on the basis of their experiences. I would like to mention their experiences are their identification.”
Join us next week for the first story from Joni, who grew up in Nangi and is now studying in Pokhara. What story will little Rita have to tell when she is older?