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 contact-at-himanchal-dot-org 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.
HEF will be supporting recovery and rebuilding efforts in Nepal through a Nepal Earthquake Recovery Fund. Donations for HEF can be made through our standard financial management organization, the Kearney Area Community Foundation. Link is in the upper right hand corner of the page.
We do not know the extent of the damage and specific needs at this time, but we are gathering funds and allocation will be determined after appropriate appraisal of needs. This will be guided by the HEF BOD and the Nepal team lead by Dr. Mahabir Pun over the next several months. True to HEF’s mission we anticipate funds will be directed towards education. This may be in the form of helping to rebuild schools or reconnect wireless systems used for education.
Many have called or emailed members of the BOD to inquire about the Himanchal Education Foundation team in Nepal and we thank you for your heartfelt concern.
We are relieved to report Dr. Mahabir Pun, Mr. Chitra Pun, their families and Nangi village suffered no personal losses that we are aware of at this time. According to an email from Chitra, Nangi and Pokhara area were not affected.
I will strive to post daily updates on the website. HEF will be participating in fund raising for the victims under the direction of the HEF BOD and Dr. Mahabir Pun. Return tomorrow for information on HEF’s Earthquake Recovery Fund.
We are Bill and Linda from Australia. We trekked on the Community Trek Trail in 2013.
Prem, our guide, was very experienced and he gave us some great advice: “Walk slowly, take many rests” and so we were happy to move at a comfortable pace that we could sustain. The first leg of the trek is up, up and more up so we greatly appreciated a refreshing masala tea at our destination at the community center at Banskharka village.
I was impressed by the no-plastic policy that forms part of the ecologically sensitive nature of the trek. Water filters at the community centers meant travelers could safely refill their own reusable water bottles and cut down on plastic waste.
Our first night was a home stay. Our hosts were most welcoming and the room was very comfortable. Here we made a modest donation to the school. Chitra, director of the trekking project, had suggested that a world globe would be a useful item so that the children could locate the home country of trekking visitors. Prem had been able to buy one in Pokhara. The students were given writing materials, while the visitors received beautiful garlands of marigolds.
After lunch at the local hall we proceeded to Nangi village, an important center with a high school and a papermaking project. Nangi village is the home village of Prem. Chitra explained that at the end of the trekking season, a meeting is held where the trekking project profits are distributed directly to the local villages that participate in the trekking business.
At Nangi, we stayed in a fine lodge adjacent to a great dining hall built by locals with assistance from UNDP/MEDEP. Nangi village has free wireless Internet at the community centre and the school. The community is justifiably proud of their efforts to connect remote villages with modern technology.
The trek to Mahare Danada was quite challenging but breathtakingly beautiful, too. As we climbed in altitude, the open grasslands gave way to towering forests. Prem woke us the next day to greet the dawn. At 3300 metres, the stunning Annapurnas Mountains are best enjoyed early. The temperature was chilly so our thermals and fleeces were just right, but closer to winter, cold weather apparel would be needed.
The weather closed in and we were walking through misty clouds, which gave way to a sudden downpour. So the final hours of the walk were very damp. We were very glad to arrive at the Mohare Danda guesthouse where a roaring fire welcomed wet and weary trekkers. The guesthouse is a remarkable achievement, given the remoteness of the location. Dozens of people from Nangi village transported all the building materials to establish a facility that provides travelers with comfortable accommodations. There’s a weather station and wireless Internet relay tower all powered by solar electricity. We ate delicious fresh food sourced from the bountiful garden.
We had an easy and short downhill walk to Danda Kharka, where a trekking stop is becoming more established. The fire easily warmed the dining room. Prem produced a deck of cards and taught the visitors a fun new game. The cook did a great job in the kitchen but Linda identified a need for a wooden cooking spoon, which we were able to buy when we got back to Kathmandu. We posted it to Prem who deliver it for us.
After a hearty breakfast, we set off on our final day and passed through some very pretty countryside with hordes of wildflowers on our way to Tikot village. Our destination was unlike Nangi and the other settlements we had visited. Which makes this trek so unique. The village is quite compact, perched on a mountain spur and the farmland below the village is richly cultivated. The hospitality echoed that of the entire trek and we were sad to say farewell.
Mahabir Pun, the community developer, is the most self-effacing, dynamic, humble, brilliant, charismatic, hard-working, nearsighted (optically), forward-thinking, paunchy, energetic person I have ever met. World travel has a way of connecting us with ordinary and sometimes amazing people. Mahabir’s the one who thought up and implemented the Eco-Community Development Trail.
When I first met him in Kathmandu in his social development restaurant — one of the many projects he has brought to fruition — I thought I must have the wrong person. Certainly this is not the iconic, internationally-renowned, award-winning Nepali I’d heard so much about. This guy looks like a rickshaw driver. That, though, he certainly is not. Raised in poverty and educated in his rustic village school, one day his father walked him to a boarding school, and he took to education the way a bird takes to the air. Through a series of fortuitous occurrences he told us about as we walked the trails interrupted repeatedly by the incessant ringing of his mobile phone (people he’s never met calling to ask him questions), he wound up at the University of Nebraska where he gained a masters degree in science and technology and then returned to Nepal to put it to use.
Mahabir is an idea implementation man. He’s never met a valuable innovation for his country that he didn’t consider if found worthy to implement. I’ve mentioned his social responsibility restaurant in Kathmandu and the Eco-Community Development Trail. The ten dining halls throughout the region cost millions of rupees he acquired in grants from all over the world. People just love to give him money because they know that it will be put to good use. In his home village of Nangi an impressed donor built a rustic round yurt complete with rooms and a central kitchen dining area. Then another one. Volunteers now come from all around the world to offer their services for a month or two and live in the yurts. Ann asked him what he has them do. His response was typical Mahabir: “I tell them to do whatever they think will be a contribution they’d like to make.” Some teach in the village school; some teach classes like yoga after school to students and adults; some built huts for boarding school students; some help with a paper-making enterprise the village women use to make books they sell; one group of Korean engineering students built a two-story tall drying room with double-pane windows, two-foot wide insulated wall, and a below-floor wood-fired heating system. The paper screens are stored there over night to dry before taking out into the sunlight the next day.
Mahabir made this possible through his web site (himanchal.org) but the core of the magnetism that draws people is our rather gosh, belly-scratching Mahabir. When the Maoist revolution at the turn of the century disrupted his new trekking route, he turned to something else he knew would be necessary: connectivity. Wanting to provide Internet service to the region he by-passed the government and defied the Maoists and had volunteers sneak electronic equipment into Nepal and set up a series of repeater stations from hilltop to hilltop connecting communities to the Internet, and through these connections he put regional health posts in contact by audio and video with medical specialists in Kathmandu. These repeater stations now blanket the entire area at no charge to the schools and medical clinics. Now he spends part of his time keeping the information flowing. Meantime back home more and more people were offering their services erecting solar panels and hot water heaters around the region. His work just goes on and on. This is just the tip of his development iceberg. You’d be reading for hours if I got into all of it.
Mahabir is now working with Dr. Saroj Dhital, a soon to retire surgeon at Model Hospital in Kathmandu who also wants to make a meaningful contribution to his country by organizing a cadre of trained doctors to travel through and live in the villages offering services to the people who cannot or cannot afford to come to Kathmandu for specialized medical services including surgery. We had the pleasure of traveling with Saroj and his fourth-year resident protégé, Kovid Nepal, on our trek through the hills with Mahabir. Saroj is a wiry comic of a man with a mischievous trail side manner but a serious medical demeanor. Twenty-seven year old Kovid could be a Nepaliwood cinema star if he weren’t so dedicated to medicine and the most at risk people of his country. These are the kinds of people who believe in what Mahabir is trying to accomplish and want to help him make it happen. These are the people who are drawn like iron to Mahabir’s magnetism and overpowering and sincere desire to make a difference in his world. They teach us all that there are those who have so little and need so much, and, when we look deep down into the third world, we can find ways to help and people who dedicate their lives to doing so.
I’ve told you about this because I love the fact that there are so many Americans who are generous and compassionate. I love that about Americans and try to remind people all over the world, every chance I get, that this is so. This makes me proud to be an American. Collectively our nation sometimes has problems being compassionate and at times our government certainly has problems being generous, but at the depths of our culture, these two beliefs in compassion and generosity, have found a home.
Making Surgical Care Available to the Remote Rural Areas of Nepal by Dave Carlson.
Providing healthcare to the remote areas of Nepal has always been a challenge from the public health and clinical perspectives. Populated urban areas have historically benefited in quality and services over populations residing in hill and mountain areas. While sparsely populated, over half of Nepal consists of hill and mountain communities.
Now as never before, technological innovation is making it possible to seriously address the health needs of millions of Nepalese people long marginalized. Increasingly tele-medicine is reaching out to remote small clinics and in doing so establishing connections between health care workers and doctors at large urban hospitals in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu. Increasingly, doctors located hundreds of miles distant are now able to video monitor patients at remote clinics and to prescribe non-invasive treatment.
Still, a critical area of need remains and that is to provide a surgical component to the process of healthcare at remote locations. Transporting patients long distances to receive surgery is not within the means of the vast majority of people living in these areas.
To address the need for surgical care made available throughout rural Nepal, Dr. Saroj Dhital of the Kathmandu Model Hospital and Dr. Mahabir Pun of the Nepal Wireless Networking Project are developing a pilot rural surgery initiative. As the Director of Academic Affairs and Chief of General Surgery at the Model Hospital in Kathmandu, Dr. Dhital will lead a team of surgeons working closely with Dr. Pun who is a Ramon Magsaysay Award winning rural community development activist. Together they envision the creation of Rural Health-care Centers operated by local communities trained in primary health care skills and equipped to provide the needed backup support for mobile surgical teams that can routinely visit the Centers.
This pilot project will be launched in the remote mountains of Myagdi District in western Nepal where over the years Dr. Pun has promoted the development of small locally managed community health clinics.
For this project to become fully operational there is a need for specific types of equipment all of which must be portable. Below is a list of essential equipment the project is seeking to obtain, either new or used:
Autoclave (sterilization machine)
electrocardiogram (EKG machine)
basic surgical hand instruments
For organizations and individuals in the United States able to donate items of equipment noted above or to make a monetary contribution, this can be done via a non-profit organization known as Friends of Nepal (FoN). FoN is an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association and most of its members are returned Peace Corps volunteers from Nepal. For the past 30 years FoN has funded projects within Nepal that have been conceived of and implemented by local Nepalese (no paid outside contractors). The focus of FoN’s many assistance projects has always been on grass root initiatives targeting those people most in need.
With questions about making a donation of medical equipment contact FoN board member David Carlson at email@example.com or call (303) 499-2458. A monetary donation can be made by check to Friends of Nepal and mailed to: Suzie Schneider, 181 Mary Jo Lane, Sequim, WA 98382. You can also use a credit card on the FoN website: http://www.friendsofnepal.com
For information about the background of Dr. Mahabir Pun and Dr. Saroj Dhital visit:
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Kathleen Sungu Lee, a high school senior at Seoul Foreign School (SFS) has recently founded the Hands in Hands Foundation, primarily to support the underprivileged students in Nangi Village, Nepal. The main focus of the foundation is to provide tailored renewable energy solutions, mostly solar PV power and small-hydro power, and an affordable Energy Storage System (ESS), to the impoverished Nangi community in Nepal.
Kathleen took the initiative to perform a flute concert to raise support to continue with these projects. Her March 2014 concert at the uJung Art Center in Seoul raised $9,000 US. Dr. Mahabir Pun is grateful for the work and care that Kathleen has shown toward the students.
Click below to view the entire video.
In a recent interview by The Banner (a Seoul Foreign School publications), Kathleen related her recent experience.
I was able to realize how blessed we are and how profoundly education can change people’s futures by observing the people of Nepal. During my three visits to the mountain areas of Nepal, I realized that the most pressing issue is the lack of energy. While I was there, the most difficult thing for me to endure was the frigid weather after sunset and lack of lighting. Per capita electricity consumption in Nepal is merely 1/100 of that of the US. Most schools and the dormitories do not have sufficient, if any, lighting and heating facilities, so many students cannot read and constantly struggle with cold weather after sunset. As a student who wishes to pursue studies in the field of environmental science, I decided to contribute my passion and knowledge about clean energy to the Nangi School in Nepal to help the underprivileged yet passionate students.
Nepal has very limited fossil fuel sources, so people in the mountain area mostly rely on burning wood chips as their primary energy source, one with which it is almost impossible to generate sufficient electricity. Fortunately, the mountain area of Nepal is a naturally privileged location for solar PV, and small hydro power generation due to its high altitude, and a plentiful supply of water.
Together with suitable and affordable ESS, the people of Nepal can generate electricity from the renewable energy sources and keep the electricity stored in the ESS until they actually need to use it, mostly at night. In addition, just providing hardware might not be sufficient. In order to have self-sustaining power generation storage, we must train the villagers how to install, manage, fix and even prevent all sorts of operating troubles by themselves.
We wish to express our gratitude to our local partner, Dr. Mahabir Pun and his supporters, to serve as a model for sustainable local educational and economic development through the Himanchal Education Foundation and the Nepal Wireless Networking Project.
Mahabir was able to reconnect with faculty from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the Kearney community at large during his attendance at the Fall 2013 UNK World Affairs conference. In meeting with several individuals, it was suggested that the board be expanded locally. In addition to current board members Dr Leonard Skov and Bill Ballou; Susan Bigg, Dr Ron Konecny. Sally Lundell, Sherry Morrow, and Peg and Roger Nyffeler agreed to serve on the HEF board.
The new board met in February and May of 2014. We have updated the HEF mission statement. Also an agreement with a local foundation (Kearney Area Community Foundation) was implemented to handle the financial affairs of HEF. Beginning September 2014 we will cease to use Network For Good and convert solely to PayPal. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause but the change was necessary for accounting purposes.
Donors may have also noticed that mailings are being sent from Mail Express, a local mailing business. These changes were agreed upon to assist Dr Skov in the duties he has single handedly done since the beginning of HEF. HEF is very indebted to him for all his work for more than a decade. We hope to inform you promptly of any additional board activity as needed via the website.
Pam, a recent volunteer from the UK, had this to say about her experience:
“I spent a month in Nangi this last summer (2013) and I had a great time. I gave some classes on reflexology to the women from the village with the idea that they could do some foot massage on the Trekkers passing through and staying at the lodge. A total of 6 women were interested and attended 10 classes. There were classes for the 10 young girls, 17 years old that we had at 7 am because they were busy the rest of the day! I was really impressed with how many came each morning. We also did face massage just for fun.
I helped out in Lila’s classroom and enjoyed english work but also some singing with the children. I brought a ukulele with me and it wasn’t long before I was teaching a couple of the teachers to play. We had some great music sessions in the evenings and the memories of those nights will stay with me forever. During my stay Mote, the nursery gardener, took me up to Mohare Danda for one night so I could see the sunrise on the amazing mountains. It was spectacular.
Pam and Moti.
After the month was over I was very sad to leave. The foot massage is up and running i am really pleased to say. It was a good project and I am so pleased that everyone was so enthusiastic about it. I hope to return one day and see everyone there. Thank you for such a great time!”