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.
Dr. Debra Stoner has resigned from Himanchal Education Foundation Board of Directors. Deb joined the board in 2003. She will continue to supervise the volunteers, provide medical direction for Nangi Clinic and write for the HEF website until June 2014. She plans to continue her support for HEF by writing and publishing a book about Mahabir Pun. You can read her blog book called Wireless Prophet at: www.wirelessprophet.com
HEF is seeking qualified individuals to serve on the board. If you are interested please contact Dr. Leonard Skov at: email@example.com
Dan is a professor at Bath Spa University in the UK. He and four of his students joined the team from the University of Vic for an unforgettable teaching experience at Himanchal Higher Education School in Nangi this past spring. Read what Dan had to say about the teaching experience and his own opportunity for adventure.
“I visited Nangi from 27March to 6 April with a group of four undergraduate education studies students from Bath Spa University in the UK. We were there to find out about the Nepal education system and particularly the role of examinations and evaluation in the system. We interviewed a number of the teachers about their experiences of preparing students for School Leaving Certificate and other examinations, and also spoke to groups of students in Grade 8 and 11. We helped out with invigilating the exams and my students taught English speaking skills. Afterwards I experienced a couple of days of the community trek. With my guide Takumar from Nangi we walked up to Mohare lodge on the first day, through rhododendron (laligras) forests that gradually changed from red to pink as we gained height. It was a beautiful clear day with views of Dhaulagiri between the trees. Reaching Mohare (3300m) around 1pm we met a group of workmen building a fence and generally developing the site into a great trekking lodge. The cloud enveloped us in the afternoon, but after dark it cleared again and we could see, far below us, the strip of lights by the lakeside at Pokhara. The following morning we woke at 5.30am to watch a spectacular sunrise over the Himalaya; rising just to the South of Machapuchare and illuminating the summits of Annapurna South, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri with a golden blaze. We then trekked along the ridge to Pun Hill, where we joined the main tourist trekking route down to Ghorepani and all the way down the valley to the road at Nayapul. There our paths parted, with Takumar taking the bus back to Beni to return to Nangi, whilst I made my way back to Pokhara to continue my research in Kathmandu the following day. A truly unforgettable experience and one which has wetted my appetite to come and do the whole 9 day community trek next year!”
Each year volunteers come to Nangi from all over the world to teach English and other subjects at the school. In a joint effort by University of Vic in Spain and Bath Spa University in England, several students and two professors were in Nangi in April 2013. Below is an account by the Spanish professor Marta. Come back next month and read what the professor from England had to say.
“My Name is Marta. I am a professor and lecturer of the University of Vic. Vic is a small city situated north of Barcelona (Catalonia). Last April, I had the opportunity to be in Nangi with six of my students. An experience none of us is ever going to forget. The openness, warmth and dedication of the people in Nangi made our stay a very pleasant one.”
Teachers Chandra and Toya reading students’ work: Let’s check our work: did we write the proper information?
The teachers reading a text on the wall will act as messengers by reading and memorizing while the secretaries are in class ready to write the message down.
“I felt very privileged, as I was given the chance to give a workshop about “Teaching English as a foreign language” for the teachers in Nangi. Moreover, it was a workshop in which my students could also participate. It took two days and we shared our activities with several teachers of Himanchal High School and other schools around the village. We learned and had fun, we discovered similarities and differences in the way we approach a foreign language. English, Nepalese and Catalan were present in our sessions. Being a language teacher, it was great to be immersed in such a rich context linguistically speaking.”
Two teachers playing a game and decide whose turn it is. The student won. Using games encourages English speaking skills.
“I was impressed with the creativity Nepalese people show when talking about ideas to teach children and young people. This took me back fourteen years ago, when I was teaching in Sanothimi Campus, in Bhaktapur. Then, I often asked myself this question: “What do Nepalese people do so well as to be able to be so creative? I would like to know and take this home with me”. Fourteen years later, I still don’t know the answer to this question. Fortunately, it is still a mystery to me and I know I’ll have to go back to Nepal again to find out more about it. This way, I’ll feel the spirit, the enthusiasm and the uniqueness of Nepalese teachers, again.”
View of Mohare Danda trekking lodge and solar electricity collection system.
Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Trek project was established in 2010 with the financial support of UNDP/MEDEP and village contribution. This is a unique trekking route in Nepal due to its objective – to support the community of Parbat and Myagdi Districts in order to develop the education system in the villages. Read more here.
Jenny volunteered in Nangi for five weeks in December 2012 and January 2013. Her is what she had to say about her experience:
“I first heard about Nangi village 11 years ago from another volunteer and recently I was lucky enough to volunteer there myself. It was a fantastic experience. The people of Nangi are so welcoming and big hearted and happily include you in their daily life and work. The village and surroundings are just stunning…pine forests, farm land and snow capped mountains.
I had read on the Nangi website from a former volunteer that although the students of Nangi could read and write English quite well, they weren’t very confident speaking English, so that gave me the idea for my project. My original plan was to help the older students learn spoken English but when I arrived, I was instead asked to teach grades 2,3,4 and 5 which was fine. The other part of my project was to get the children reading English books for fun and enjoyment. In Nepal the children learn English from text books that seemed very boring. Before I went to Nangi, I collected second hand books and teaching aids (puzzles, games and picture cards) that were high interest, colourful, culturally appropriate and (most important) light weight and these really helped with the teaching as I was completely hopeless at learning the Nepali language.
I took my classes outside in the sun whenever possible because it is so cold and dark in the classrooms in winter. I was in Nangi for 5 weeks which didn’t seem long for what I was doing but I did see the students become very engrossed in reading the books each day and certainly get more confident in speaking English. Another positive outcome was the setting up of the Himachal English Fan Club for the senior students, thanks to Chandra the English teacher. It’s a sort of English for Fun club run by the students with a collection of comics, sports books, puzzle books,etc that they can keep in the class and borrow any time. I also got them a small collection of English DVDs (mostly family movies so they wouldn’t be too culturally confronting) which they can run on film nights. It’s hard to speak English when you rarely hear it spoken! I also got to guide the primary kids on their first ever use of a computer using a very simple language program/game I’d brought from Australia which was incredibly exciting for all of us.”
TIP: If you want to keep in touch with the outside world take your own laptop. The school has computers but they’re not always available.
Ideas for future projects?
1) Teaching the primary children and their teachers basic computer skills and usage. There is a small computer lab with 6 or so computers for the primary classes but it’s not used much at the moment. 2) Helping students with English speaking and reading aloud. 3) Increasing the usage of the books and resources in the library.
September 2012 to January 2013 by Chitra Pun, HEF Field Officer
I am very happy to get an opportunity to acknowledge to all respective people about Community Managed Eco Trail and its progress in 2012.
We held a meeting of communities in Nangi village on the 25th January 2013 to distribute money that was earned during the last tourism season of 2012. In the meeting, people were participated from Banskharka village, Dandakateri village, Nangi village, Aula village, Tikot village and Khibang village where community dining hall with home stay and community lodges for trekkers have been run by communities.
Name list of members who attended the meeting
Mr. Raman Pun, Nangi village
Mr. Dil Bahadur Pun, Nangi village
Mr. Bir Bahadur Khoraja, Nangi village
Tek Bahadur Khoraja, Nangi, village
Kishan Pun, Nangi village
Mr. Raman Purja, Nangi village
Mr. Partu Purja, Nangi village
Ms. Pok Maya Purja, Nangi village
Mr. Chitra Pun, Nangi village
Mr. Yam Bahadur Garbuja, Banskharka village
Mr. Akash Pun, Banskharka village
Mr. Am Bahadur Purja, Dandakateri village
Mr. Gam Bahadur Garbuja, Aula village
Mr. Kumar Garbuja, Aula village
Mr. Dakraj Garbuja, Khibang village
Mr. Pradeep Pun, Tikot village
Mr. Tek Bahadur Pun, Tikot village
Mr.Yubraj Pahare Pun, Tikot village
Mrs. Yamsara Pun, Tikot village
Mrs. Man Kumari Purja, Tikot village
Mrs. Uma Devi Garbuja, Tikot village
Mrs. Purni Maya Paija, Tikot village
Dr Mahabir Pun, Live from Kathmandu
Counting and dividing profits for porters, scholarships and village funds.
Attendees represented several villages.
Mr. Mahabir Pun attends via video conference.
A trekker plants a rhododendron tree seedling.
One of the wildflower strewn meadows along the Community Eco-Trekking Trail.
Trekkers enjoy a bit of snow fall dusting the mountain vistas.
During September 2012 to January 2013, there were more than 200 trekkers and community has become a success to earn Rs. 2,136,445 ($24,489 USD) in total. Out of Rs. 2,136,445 we distributed Rs. 147,600 ($1691 USD) for porters’ remuneration, allocated Rs. 250,000 ($2865 USD) fund for scholarship and Rs. 100,000 ($1146 USD) fund for nature conservation and community development.
Village’s Financial Distribution
Name of village
The trekkers were from different countries including USA, Britain, Australia, German, Israel, France, Spain, Korea, and Japan. Trekkers experienced making handmade lokta paper, wearing Pun Magar traditional clothes, home stays as well as lodge living. Some trekkers planted trees from community forestry nursery run by Himanchal Higher Secondary School.
Elsa is a volunteer nurse from France working with the women to improve healthcare. Here is what she has to say about her experience.
Elsa and Women’s Group
My name is Elsa, and I am a nurse from France. I quit my job in September 2011 after working for two years in a hospital ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in Paris and took a one way flight to Nepal. I came to this country without any fixed plans, with only a little bit of medical equipment from my hospital in Paris and a lot of hope and love to share….
I was very fortunate to meet the renown Dr Mahabir Pun in Kathmandu a week after I arrived and with his introduction I was allowed to spend some time working in the Kathmandu Model Hospital. When I learned about the efforts Dr Mahabir Pun and Dr Saroj Dhital were making to improve the lives of the mountain villagers through the use of modern communication techniques, I found myself intrigued and grasped the chance to go and live in a remote village of Nepal. I arrived in the Himalayan village of Nangi in November 2011. I discovered their way of life to be totally different from mine. I slowly tried to follow the flow of the days. I got involved in the village clinic, the kindergarten, the paper making center and in the fields sharing the simple life, getting to know the people around me, learning about their crops in the fields and their animals and how they use all the things that nature provides them to live a simple and comfortable life. After Nangi, I went to three other villages including Ramche, Tikot, and Sikha to see the health-centers and work with different local health workers. Slowly, slowly after a few months working with these people and observing their lives the idea of an association came to me.
Elsa and Lila in Nangi Clinic.
The women of these villages have traditionally made wool bags for everyone; children who are going to school, husbands who are going to work, to teach…I believed that the women could raise money for themselves and for the community in general by using their traditional skills and selling their products/crafts. I started meetings with the women to explain and discuss different ideas with them. We created community groups run by committees of a dozen women in Nangi and Tikot villages. The sales of these bags in Nepal, France and elsewhere enables the implementation of fair and sustainable economic activities in these remote villages. The women are paid per day of work in Nangi and per bag in Tikot.
The profit from the sale of the bags is also used to improve villagers’ access to basic health care. The committees work closely with local health workers. The cooperative is presently supporting pregnant women with money from the sale of these bags and has already paid for the expenses of three childbirths in Nangi. “Women’s skills for sustainable women’s health” is the heart of this association. After six months in Nepal, I went back to France to create the association and to begin to sell some bags there. The name of the association is “MilleZola” which means “a thousand bags”. You can visit our website http://www.millezola.com and also follow on Facebook www.facebook.com/MilleZola2012
I am now back in Nangi to continue to work on this project. I want to create a new design for the bags, particularly for the French market. The association is looking for textile designer volunteers. I will probably stay five more months in Nepal. I just want to say that these people have changed my life. They have taught me how to live in the precious present moment, how to become liberated of judgment, how to live in harmony with nature around.. how to never stop smiling, how to be happy, be happy, be happy !!!!!
Danny, Marj, their daughters and nephew Jason volunteered in March 2012 to renovate and rewire the volunteer roundhouse, rewire student housing, teach English and creative writing to students. Volunteers returning to Nangi will appreciate the new open floor plan in the main volunteer roundhouse which made the kitchen and common room one large area. This provides an open space for socializing and cooking together. The addition of one bunk room allows for more volunteers to share the space. The new wiring assures safe electrical service….when the electricity is flowing! Marg’s creative writing classes for older students will be the basis for the new section called Meet the Students which should be up over the next several weeks. This is what Danny had to say about his time in Nangi.
Marj, Danny and daughters with trekking guide.
“As my wife & I had been to Nepal previously (twice) we had always said that once our children were old enough we would return. I came across the HEF website through a work collegue in our initial planning stages for our adventure. The underlying HEF goals and mission seemed to correlate with what we wanted our children to experience. The next hurdle to overcome was to decide how an “unskilled” person like myself, could contribute to the HEF, village and school. Given that I was fairly handy with carpentry work and general odd jobs, Deb Stoner proposed that I could complete several renovations to the volunteer round houses. We stayed almost 9 weeks in Nangi and I completed, (with some assistance from nephew Jason) many odd jobs including: a new kitchen bench, additional lighting, laying ply & lino flooring, toilet plumbing, making bedroom shelves and L shaped double bunks. We also renovated the kitchen in the old roundhouse & made a rodent proof cupboard. A major piece of work was the rewiring of the student huts.”
“Advice for future volunteers is to try and get specific details of what your volunteer work will entail. This may allow you to pre plan what tools, materials and other resources you may need prior to your arrival. Materials take a number of days to order and arrive in remote areas and this leads to a lot of down time. I was fortunate to be able to borrow an electric jig saw for the majority of the timber cutting. This meant I had to plan for when there was power available. My best piece of advice for future volunteers is to be patient and remain flexible! Working for the village and school is a rewarding experience. A contribution, no matter how small makes a difference.”
Jonni, from Finland, is a long time volunteer with HEF. His first project was building a Finnish sauna in the village several years ago. The sauna provides health benefits along with relaxation for hard working villagers and volunteers. He was in Nepal this past October to work on the sauna and several wireless-dependent meteorological projects with Mahabir:
“I cleaned the sauna stove thoroughly, which had rust and ash from moisture. We made a new chimney for it. The old one was simple and broken, and I think rain could get in. Ash must be removed regularly so it does not absorb moisture that must greatly accelerate corrosion. The new chimney was built of rock, with a large flat rock on top and holes on the sides of it.”
“I went to Mohare Danda, Khopra, Khayer lake and Larke, to install equipment for Mahabir These were: an IP camera to Mohare, weather station to Khopra and repairs in Larke.”
“Shortly put: the camera in Mohare Danda is useful for several purposes. The destination can be advertised better, and Mahabir is thinking of puttinga screen with live video from the camera in the Nepal Connection Café in Thamel. The installation trip took 4 days. We wanted to protect the camera from weather, but the installation and cabling were problematic – we had to use parts that were available in Mohare, so there were several improvisations, like using a water tank lid for roof, and a part of an Ethernet cable for power. Also, Dept. of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) was interested in making weather observations about cloudiness from these images. The images are stored at:
In Khopra, I was to install a small Vaisala weather station. Vaisala calls this product a “weather transmitter”, as it’s not a fully functioning station, but Mahabir calls it a “weather station”. Difference is: The transmitter does not log values, and also it isn’t fully equipped to measure all things. It cannot measure snowfall at all, and it has everything in one box which makes accurate measurements difficult because wind measurement should be at 10 meter height and temperature at 2 meters.”
“When in Khopra, I found that the communication part was defective, and after despair, found out that the laptop in Khopra could be used for this purpose. We had additional installation and transmission errors that have rendered this project of little use for now. There’s no data for the night, and if there’s also mostly no data for the day, there’s just not much data at this time but we will work on correcting the errors.”
“In Larke, there are old installations – both a camera like the one in Mohare, and a weather station like in Khopra. Both were not functioning. We just took that down and brought to Pokhara for repairs. I could fix the weather station, as its only problem was the transmission of data. I set up a new transmission and the results can be seen at a link below. This is interesting for the aviation to Jomsom, and also for DHM.”
We will be starting new pages dedicated to the teachers and students. While the pages are under construction I would like to start introducing the staff of Himanchal Higher Secondary School. The school is divided into segments which include: Grades 1-5 Primary; Grades 6-8 Lower Secondary Level; Grades 9-12 Higher Secondary Level.
Raman Pun, Principle of Himanchal Higher Secondary School, Nangi, Nepal October 2012.
Raman Pun is the school Principle. He earned his degree in Commerce and Education from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal and has been teaching since 1998. He teaches Grades 9 & 10 Accounting and Grades 11 & 12 Business Study and Marketing. His administrative duties as Principle include assuring curriculum exceeds Nepal standards, managing the school within the budget, hiring teachers, discipline of students and teachers, and the many challenges faced by school principles across the globe.
Raman told me he has many wishes for his students, one is to “earn good income from education”. He is concerned about the small number of female students able to study at the college level. The social standards in Nepal do not favor women traveling alone or living in dormitories unless they are with family. Most can not afford college tuition in the cities. He especially wants to advance the school to a Bachelors Level Program which is a 3 year degree program. He would like to offer degrees in Computer Science and Education which would allow female students to live locally and advance their educations.
Raman would like to hear from other educators about the challenges they face as teachers and administrators no matter where you live. Please leave your comments and we will forward to Raman.