Volunteer from California, USA Expresses Gratitude

November 5th, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

The following is an edited excerpt from a recent volunteer’s letter sent to the HEF team in Nepal. Crystal taught a way-finding and GPS class to the guides working for the Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Trek Project http://nepaltrek.wix.com/nepalcommunitytrek

Volunteers, such as Crystal, make a difference. Think about bringing your skills to our school and community villages. Contact Dr. Debra Stoner: debra@himanchal.org

Namaste Chitra,
I wanted to thank you and everyone in the Nangi village and HEF for the amazing experience I had at the Nangi village teaching the compass/ map/ GPS guides course, helping out in the school and going on the trek with Prem.  It was a very rich and rewarding experience.  You took such great care of me. I really felt part of your community.  Thank you!

I would love to stay involved with the guides and geocaching, as well as help promote the Community Village Trek in anyway that I can.  I really think you have a unique opportunity to share your culture and way of life with tourists while contributing to the local economy of the villages.  Based on my discussions with tourists I’ve met here in Nepal, many travelers are looking for this type of experience.  Let’s stay in touch about ideas to continue to work together.

Prem was an excellent guide.  He is very knowledgeable about the area and the Magar culture and communicates. I learned so much and took lots and lots of notes.  I would like to write a few articles for publish in local newspapers at home in California, maybe travel magazines and for your website or marketing describing my experience both in the village and on the trek.  I would also like to learn more about the history, traditions and culture of the Magar people in your area.

During the guides course, I was impressed by how quickly the guides learned the compass, map and GPS equipment.  I hope they can continue to use these skills in their work.
Prem became proficient with the GPS and geocaching concept while we were trekking and I think he can help teach new guides in your program.  We took GPS points in all the villages we visited and other points of interest along our 9 day trek and I helped him download the data on his computer.  .

When I get home, I plan to do a slide show presentation about my experience at Nangi and Community Trek for my local community and schools.
Overall I was very impressed by the Nangi village, your community programs, and your dedication to improve the welfare of all your community members. It is very inspiring.  I would like to continue to be involved from abroad and come back and contribute more to the village and community trek project in whatever capacity I can.

Please be in touch and thanks again for an unforgettable experience.

With gratitude,


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October 17th, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

Ajay Rai, a friend of Mahabir Pun and fellow UNK graduate, formed a non-profit organization called Tee For Nepal Help Foundation from his home in San Antonio, Texas. The goal of the foundation is to generate funds to support education in rural Nepal through the game of golf.
After learning of Dr. Leonard Skov’s persistent efforts to raise funds through Himanchal Education Foundation, Ajay decided to make a difference and organize a golf event in the Nepalese community. On August 8th, 2015 the inaugural golf tournament was held in Omaha, Nebraska. Families joined the golfers to socialize that evening with over 200 in attendance. Mahabir Pun and Dr Ron Konecny, HEF board president, presented awards to the golfers.

With the combined efforts from the Tee For Nepal Help Foundation, the Nebraska Nepalese Society, and the Omaha Nepalese community, over $6000 USD was raised for HEF. Plans are being made for the foundation to hold a yearly event in other locations throughout the USA to support HEF and other educational programs in rural Nepal.

A big thank you to all who volunteered or donated items especially Ajay Rai, Bhim Rai, Gyanendra BC, Ajit Adhikary, Ramesh Adhikari, Deva Raj Kandel, Surendra Achaya, Binaya Regmi, and PJ Basnyat. A special thank you to the Nepalese women who organized a ladies night out to raise funds and to the families who prepared momos and biryani to sell.


Nepal Open in Nebraska


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August 8th, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

Prepared by Chitra Pun, Field Manager for HEF.

I am very happy to get an opportunity to acknowledge about Community Managed Eco Trail and its progress in 2014.

We held a meeting of communities’ in Khibang village on the 25th December 2014 to distribute money that was earned during the last tourism season of 2014. In the fall season, there were more than 200 trekkers who trekked in our area. In the meeting, people participated from Banskharka, Dandakateri, Nangi, Aula, Tikot, and Khibang villages. In these villages, community dining halls with a home stay and community lodges for trekkers are run by the local communities.

The meeting was conducted under the chairmanship of Vice-chairman, Mr. Thakraj Pun, of The Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Eco-Tourism Development and Promotion Organization.

Name list of members who attended the meeting

  1. Mr. Raman Pun
  2. Mr. Raman Pun
  3. Mr. Tek Khoraja
  4. Miss Pok Maya Purja
  5. Mrs Bina Paija
  6. Miss Milan Garbuja
  7. Mr Yam Garbuja
  8. Mr. Am Bahadur Purja
  9. Mr. Hari Pun
  10. Mr. Gem Pun
  11. Mr Chitra Pun

Villagers from different village

The trekkers were from different countries including but not limited to the USA, Australia, Germany, Israel, France, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, and China. Trekkers experienced making handmade lokta paper; cheese making; Pun Magar’s traditional cultural dance; school and village tours.

Through the local garden programs, we were able to feed the trekkers fresh and organic vegetables produced in the villages.

  ADCETDEPOmeetingYakhotel_2014 (1) IMG_8977 IMG_9484 IMG_9642

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Korean Students Donate for Earthquake Relief

July 18th, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

Students from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) raised and donated $6129 USD for earthquake relief. They are supporting the rebuilding of a school in one of the districts affected by the April 2015 earthquake. The KAIST student group, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), took the initiative and spearheaded the fund raising with the KAIST Undergraduate Council and International Scholar and Student Services.

KAIST is a prestigious Korean university and the most respected Professor Tae – Ho Song heads the team. Working with Dr. Mahabir Pun’s Nepal Wireless organization, Dr. Song brought teams of 15 undergraduate and graduate engineering students to Nepal in January 2014 and 2015 to conduct projects. These have included the installation of a solar water pump in Mohare, installation of solar power in Nangi school, building a solar and wood heated drying house, installing small hydro generators, and educational activities with the students.


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Articles Worth Reading

July 1st, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

David Citrin, PhD, MPH wrote a well constructed article about disaster relief in Nepal for Humanosphere. Read it here.

Melody Schreiber, a program manager at International Reporting Project, wrote about the earthquake effects on the Nepal health system. Read it here.

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More Small Donations…

June 24th, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

In lieu of gifts for a 60th birthday party my husband requested family and friends make a donation to HEF’s Earthquake Relief Fund. A jar was placed on a table with reminders of the earthquake….in small donations of $20, $30 and $50 USD…over $1300 USD was raised. Small donations add up to make a difference.


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Small Donations Matter

June 12th, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

Kate, a former Australia volunteer, sent this message to HEF along with her daughter’s donation for the Earthquake Relief Fund. It shows that small donations really do matter.

“My daughter, Sarah, ran a cupcake stall to raise money for earthquake victims. She raised AU$446 which converts to US$340. We hope this helps a little. Thanks, Kate. PS I volunteered in Nangi about 15 years ago and it was a wonderful experience. I would love to bring my children there someday.”

This amount of money is about the average annual income for a family in Nepal. Think about the impact…one cupcake stand feeds a family of four for a year. More about small donations next week, but consider how small donations of $20, $30 or $50 USD from several people add up to make a difference.




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Earthquake Relief – Controversy

June 2nd, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

The Nepal government set up the Prime Minister disaster relief fund mandating all earthquake relief money from any organization either Nepal or globally based be directed to the fund. This is in a country where thousands of non-government agencies have operated aid programs for decades without government supervision. The goal was to coordinate all funds arriving into Nepal for disaster relief into one program and avoid duplication and/or waste of services. Controversy has developed amid speculation and concerns for it’s ability to monitor, distribute and assess such a monumental task.

Dr. Mahabir Pun wrote to the Nepal Chief Secretary, Lilamani Poudyal, concerning the merits of individual volunteers or small organizations working on earthquake relief projects. Read the letter here.

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Earthquake Devastation in Pictures & Numbers

May 21st, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

American Nepal Medical Association posts regular updates on the field disaster relief work in pictures and texts.

Dr. Mahabir Pun wrote: “Just to give you an idea of how big the damage is, I have given the summary of the damage as follows. They are still collecting more information.” Source: Nepal Government website

No. of Nepali people died – 8,604

No. of people injured – 16,808

No. of foreigners died/injured – 70/50

No. of foreigners missing – 111

No. Government buildings fully destroyed – 768

No. of houses fully destroyed–488,789

No. of houses partially destroyed – 267,477

No. of schools fully destroyed – 14,192

No. of schools partially damaged – 8,431

No. of health post and hospital destroyed – 269


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Earthquake Recovery Update

May 18th, 2015 by Debra Stoner · No Comments

Dr. Mahabir Pun was recently asked about recovery projects in Nepal and reminds us the country is still experiencing unsettling aftershocks resulting in a paralyzed economy.
“It is too early to decide what to do for the recovery project. There are several earthquakes happening everyday in the range of 4 to 6 scale. Therefore, most of the people too scared and are staying outside their houses during the day and night. The roads are almost empty and the shops, schools and offices are closed. Even if the doors of some government offices are opened, people are not working or there is no work to do.”
In regards to his present plans:
“I am planning to rebuild some of the relay towers outside Kathmandu valley that are totally damaged with the help of people from Télécoms Sans Frontières, France. They are here for two months and want to help install communication facilities in some of the rural areas.”

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