Welcome to Himanchal Education Foundation. We are a non-profit corporation based in the US. Our goal is to support Himanchal High School in the remote village of Nangi, Nepal, a school that is a prototype for community-based educational development in rural areas.
With help from volunteers all across the world, today our school supports grades K through 12, including a computer lab with Internet connnection. We welcome you to hear the story of our journey and stay connected with it in the future.
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.
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.
Jharana, Indigo, Janita, Todd and Sari in Tikot, April 2012.
Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Eco: This new community trail in the Annapurna region is a beautiful trail that our family trekked in April 2012 with our good friend Mahabir Pun. We hope this short documentary encourages other families to travel with their kids and explore this part of the world.
Our recent trip to Nangi village was particularly special as we were able to share our experiences with our 5 and 7 year old daughters.
Tips that we would encourage other parents to consider when planning a trip to Nepal include:
Seek out good paediatric travel advice regarding vaccines and associated travel medicine issues (gastric issues, altitude etc) well before travelling by visiting a Travel Clinic or your family physician
Books can be purchased on Amazon such as: I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket by Ed Young; Namaste! by Diana Cohn and Amy Cordova; I See the Sun in Nepal by Dedie King, Judith Inglese and Chij Shrestha. Children can also use these books as a conversation starter in the village or take photographs throughout their trip and stick matching images inside the books.
If you have an ipad, there are some wonderful apps that not only help your child understand Nepal more, but act as a conversation starter with children in the village:Nepal Sisters is an app that shows the typical day of a variety of young school girls.MyNepali is an app that has some basic Nepali words, complete with voice over and text of animals and transport.SneakyPeaks is an app that captures the 8000+ metre high mountains in a puzzle, and when you solve the puzzle, it tells you about the peak.
Prepare children for trekking prior by setting a realistic distance goal and drawing a barometer to chart their success – consider incidental opportunities like walking home from school – as long as they have their hiking shoes on it’s counted!
Set realistic travel plans. Kids will walk slower, need more frequent breaks, be distracted by anything and everything and be prone to whining if the pressure mounts. Having trekked many times in Nepal before, it was actually quite refreshing to be slowed down by the kids, the added benefit being that none of the family experienced any signs of altitude illness!
Try introducing Nepal or Indian food into your usual diet prior – make a fuss about cooking dhal (lentils) and rice – make chapatis a quick, easy bread kids love.
Engage the services of a doko porter if nothing else, to keep peace of mind that the kids can alternate between walking and being carried throughout the day. Remember, kids tend to walk in bursts rather than sustained endurance at a young age.
The biggest aspect to consider is that a family trek is just that a family event, so make your decisions based on what will enable the children to have lasting positive memoriesJanita, Todd, Indigo (7), Sari (5), Jharna Pun (7) in Tikot, April 2012
More information about the trek can be found by contacting Chitra Pun at email@example.com and here:
Nepal is a beautiful country, famous for its stunning Himalaya, rich culture and generous hospitality. In a country that is only 65% the size of Victoria, its population is greater than all of Australia! Yet, there are less than twenty neurologists in the whole country. A significant percentage of people live in poverty, and most people are dependent on agriculture for a living. For those living with epilepsy, access to specialist support, medication and community understanding of this highly stigmatized condition, life can be very isolating and overwhelming.
A partnership between the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria (EFV) and the Nepal Epilepsy Association (NEA) has recently seen Janita Keating, Education and Training Manager, EFV and Hemav Rajbhandari, Vice President NEA develop and deliver epilepsy education to teachers and health workers in the remote village of Nangi in the Myagdi District of West Nepal.
The training focused on emphasising that epilepsy is a medical condition that should be treated by a doctor (not a sharman or witch doctor); that epilepsy is not contagious; that when correctly diagnosed and treated by the appropriate medications seizures can, in 70% of cases, be well controlled; seizures are not the result of punishment or bad gods; and how to appropriately support the person during and after a seizure. Five health workers and thirty teachers attended the sessions, with one health worker walking nine hours by foot to attend. Pictorial resources were distributed to the health workers to better enable them to continue the educative process with newly diagnosed villagers. Linkages with NEA were established, so that any future questions or referrals can be addressed via telemedicine communications. Feedback from health workers and teachers was very positive.
The video entitled “Juneli” a Nepali Documentary Drama, based on a true epilepsy story was produced by Nepal Epilepsy Association (NEA) and shown to all participants and interested villagers. It can be viewed on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2K96GQnjgU
The experience has highlighted international epilepsy organisations can be for both countries. Future joint EFV and NEA outreach epilepsy clinics in West Nepal are planned for September 2013.
In 2011 Jiwan Giri, a former BOD member, wrote this about the yak breeding program:
“The villagers and school in Nangi are working hard to establish a Cheese Production Factory and the first step is to build a herd of cross-bred Jhopas. As many of you may already know, at Khopra Lodge Mahabir has established a Yak Farm. These yaks are primarily for meat, milk and wool. They also work as pack animals in the higher elevation above snowline. But the males serve another function which is to mate with a local female cow to produce a cross breed offspring called a Jhopa. Because one of the parents is a Yak, it allows the cross bred animals to live in Mohare. We have breeding program that has been already successfully done. Now we need to increase the herd. Therefore we need more cows.”
Although the program is successful they still need to increase the herd. Marg and Danny from Australia volunteered in Nangi this past spring renovating the volunteer roundhouse and teaching English at the school. After hearing about the yak breeding project and visiting the site, they decided to make a donation to the yak breeding program. Marg explains their decision in her email to me:
Yak donated by Marj, Danny and family, former HEF volunteers from Australia. July 2012.
“Given our good fortune to live in a first world country we wanted to assist the people of Nangi in some small way. It was important that our donation would help generate further income, allow village ownership whilst maintaining their pride. As our 10 and 8 year old daughters also contributed with some of their pocket money we wanted our gift to be tangible and something we could see the benefits of in the future. This would enable our daughters to have a greater connection to Nepal and see the positive benefits of their actions.
Buying a yak for the Cross-Breeding Program ticked all the boxes. Having only 2 yak bulls at Mohare a new (virulent) bull would extend the breeding program and reduce interbreeding. We are very happy with the two year old yak purchased and hope to see many offspring in the years to come!!”
HEF extends it’s gratitude to Marj, Danny and family for their donation which characterizes vision and an understanding of HEF’s goals.
Himanchal Education Foundation would like to introduce our newest Board of Directors member, Dr. Patrick Gray. Patrick joined HEF two months ago after graduating from Yale University last year with a Ph. D. in English and Renaissance Studies. He is a former HEF volunteer first going to Nangi twelve years ago, after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He taught English at Himanchal High School for an academic year, from the fall of 2000 to the spring of 2001. Patrick continued his studies but always coveted a desire to return to Nangi or find a way to serve the school. Please click on the right hand link under Meet Our Board to read more about Patrick.
Report of the Activities and Successes of Himanchal High School, Nangi – Nepal July, 2012
Students graduated from the school:
The eighth grade in Himanchal High School was started in 1993 after Mahabir Pun went to the village. The first batch of students, who sat for the national level examination of 10th grade, was in 1995.The national level examination is called School Leaving Certificate (SLC) and it is considered as the “Iron Gate” for the students in Nepal.Total number of students, who passed the SLC examination until now is 292 (169 girls and 123 boys) from 1995 to 2011. We had started 11th in 2003 and 12th grade class in 2004. The total number of students, who passed the final examination of 12th grade until 2011, is 178 (88 girls and 90 boys). The school has been trying its best to keep records of the students after they complete their education at Himanchal High School although it is difficult to keep track of them in Nepal. According to our records, 3 students have completed Master degree and six of them are studying Masters Degree. 7 of them have completed bachelor degree and 30 of them are either doing their bachelors degree or have completed part of their bachelor degree. 22 former students of Himanchal are now teaching in different schools as a teacher. Some of the students are working as trekking guide and cook in Nepal.
Handmade Paper Making Project:
Paper making has been a successful project of Himanchal High School. Every year we use more than 300 Kg of raw material to make paper. We make different products from paper such as note books, shopping bags and envelopes. Sarah from Australia, who was a volunteer in Nangi few years ago, helps to sell paper product in Australia. We are selling approximately 600 note books per year in Australia.
Women making paper in Nangi.
Paper notebooks made in Nangi.
The Schult family from Singapore is helping to sell wine bag and gift bag made from the paper in Singapore. In June 2012, they took 1,200 wine bags and gift bags. Some demands of the paper bags have also come from the US as well. Until now, we have sold paper products worth about $3,500.The paper making project has created seasonal job opportunity for 12 women and is generating some income for the school. Now we provided training for women to make beads from paper and sell in the market.
Yak farm and Crossbreeding farm:
Nangi village had started a Yak farm with another village called Paudwar in 1997. Now there are 160 Yaks in the farm. The two schools are sharing the income that comes by selling yak butter, yak meat and yak blood. The yearly net income from the yak farm is around $1,500. One Yak can be sold for about $250. Also we have started Yak and cow crossbreeding farm and there are 25 cross breeds now.
Yak farm in Khopra Ridge.
Cross breeds of yak and cow.
The crossbreed of Yak and cow are used as pack animals and they give more milk. We also sell the cross breeds for meat to the villagers. We are planning to start a small scale cheese making plant from the milk of the cross breed in future.
Community Managed Tourist Lodge Project:
As part of the community managed trekking program run in Nangi region, twocommunity lodges were built by Himanchal High School in two places. One lodge is in Nangi village and another is in Mohare Danda. It was built with the partial financial support of United Nations Development Program. The total cost was about $50,000 and the community had to share 40% of the construction cost. The lodges were completed in the spring of 2011 and trekkers have started to come through the new trekking trail. Most of the trekkers stay in Nangi for two nights and visit the school and different projects run by the school. The net income from the lodges goes to support the school and the health clinic in Nangi.
Lodge in Nangi.
Lodge in Mohare.
The Schult family from Singapore has supported to build hot showers in Nangi lodge and guest house. In June 2012, they also put rain water collection tanks and water treatment system in Mohare lodge. The trekkers will be able to use the treated water.
So far 110 trekkers in total have come through the new trekking route in 2011 and 2012. The net income from the lodges so far is about $2,500. The trail is getting more popular because it is not crowded with trekkers like other popular trails in Nepal. We are getting booking from the trekking companies based in Kathmandu and abroad for the coming September, October, November and December trek.
New Hostel Building for the students under construction:
Himanchal High School had small hut type hostels for the students until now. It has started to build a new hostel for boys. The capacity of the new hostel is for 48 students. It has 17 rooms. 16 rooms are for students and one is for the teacher. The estimated cost for building the hostel building is about $21,000.
Hostel huts for Nangi students.
New hostel building under construction.
The District Education Office and Village Development Committee have provided about $13,000 and Nangi community needs to bear the rest of the cost. The building will be completed by October.
Construction of New Health Clinic Building in Nangi
There is no government clinic in Nangi village. Therefore Himanchal High School has also been running a health clinic from 1999 to provide health services to the villagers. Dr. Debra Stoner has been helping for the training and improvement of the clinic. There are three health workers working in the clinic now . Two of them are nurses and one is a dentist. The nurses have 18 months’ basic health and midwife training and the dentist has 3 year dental training. The health workers work in the clinic and also teach nursery and health classes in the school as well. The clinic is also equipped with internet and video conferencing system for tele-medicine. When there is some serious health problem, the health workers can consult with the doctors in Kathmandu through video conferencing system to help the patients.
Old clinic building will be new science lab.
Healthcare Worker-Rupa Pun
Healthcare Worker-Lila Pun
Dental technician-Chitra Pun
New clinic building and health training center.
Distribution of scholarship:
Himanchal High School had received $266 for scholarship from HEF in April 2012. The scholarship was distributed as follows. The simple criteria set to receive the scholarship were;
A) Very poor family background.
B) Well-disciplined and laborious
C) Good grades in the school tests
D) Either currently studying at Himanchal High School or studying in other schools after completing 12th grade in Nangi.
The list of the students, who got the scholarship are as follows. The photos are given above.
Mr. Prushottam Paudel: 2nd year Bachelor degree student at Dhaulagiri Multiple Campus, Baglung. He is former students of Himanchal High School. Scholarship amount Rs. 7,500 ($94)
Plan to start a three year health training program in Nangi village:
We are working on to start a three year health training program in Nangi village. It is called “Health Assistant” program in Nepal, which is approximately equivalent to community nurse or medical assistant program in the US. Now we are in the process of getting approval from the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) of the government of Nepal. Most of the theoretical classes of the training program will be taught by doctors and experts from Kathmandu Model Hospital in Kathmandu through video conferencing system. The clinical and practical parts of the program will be taught in the rural clinics and in Nangi. It is going to take some time to start the program because it has to go through various bureaucratic processes. The new clinic building will also be used as classrooms for the health training programs. We are looking for support to build science labs for the health training program.
Plan to start a college in Nangi village:
We are planning to build a 4 year college in Nangi in 2015. However, it is not an easy task to get done. We are not much worried about finding resources for building physical infrastructure such as class rooms and computer labs etc. We are more concerned for finding money to pay for the teachers. We are very much sure that the new trekking route and community lodges will bring some cash income to pay for the teachers, however, it will not be enough. We need supports from outside to run the college.
We are continuously looking for more ideas to start some more income producing projects for the future college. We don’t need to hire many fulltime teachers for the college because we will be using information and communication technology heavily for teaching in the classrooms by teachers living far away from Nangi. Technical infrastructure for tele-teaching has been already set up in Nangi using wireless technology. The wireless networking project that was initiated from Himanchal High School has been expanded in 145 villages of 15 districts of Nepal now.
Himanchal High School family appreciates very much for your support for teachers’ salary and for other projects. Without your support, it would have been impossible possible for us to hire enough teachers and bring the school to the situation where it is now. Thank you.
Himanchal High School 2001. There was nothing in this areas before 1990.
Himanchal High School 2010. More infrastructure has been added since this photograph was taken such as new clinic building and lodge.
Reported by: Mahabir Pun and Chitra Pun, Nangi Village, Nepal
My name is Kim and, along with my husband and four children, I’m a returning volunteer with Himanchal Education Foundation. Each spring we travel from our home in Singapore to Nangi and work on an engineering project designed to meet the energy needs of the village. These projects include solar hot water heaters, solar energy collection systems and solar light bulbs. Last summer we trekked up to the Community Lodge at Mohare to assess the possibility of installing a solar hot water heater for a shower. What we discovered was a trekking destination of unsurpassed beauty and magnificence but with no way to collect water. We decided to tackle the water collection problem first before we worried about installing a shower.
So this past June, during our annual Nepal trip, we spent a week in Mohare. We installed 10,000 L of water storage capacity. To collect and store the water, we installed gutters along both edges of the roof of the dining hall. These gutters feed into ten 1,000 L tanks for water collection and storage. Our kids had a great time cutting the gutters and putting the pipes together. We designed the system so that it will be easy to add more tanks to increase capacity to meet the growing needs of the Community Trekking Project. While we were there, the monsoon rains started. In one night, we collected about 5,000 L of water!
There are few who brave the trek to these remote areas during the summer monsoon season, but it’s an ideal time to collect the water. We were nervous about keeping the water safe to drink because it is actually collected during monsoon but consumed months later during the trekking season. The MIOX Corporation, http://www.miox.com, makes a system that converts a saltwater solution into mixed oxidants, which can be used to disinfect water and make it safe for drinking. Their BPS unit is portable, powered by a solar panel or battery and was used to disinfect water for victims of Hurricane Katrina. MIOX donated the unit to us in large part, and it will be used in Mohare to disinfect the water and to prevent a slimy layer from building up in the storage tanks. Using the MIOX unit will mean that the drinking water does not have to be boiled. This reduces the amount of wood or propane required along with the associated costs and environmental impact needed to boil drinking water.
Here is a picture of the installed system. A valuable lesson we have learned over the years is the necessity of working as a team with all the stakeholders in any given project. This project was no different and we included a needs assessment before initiating the project, valuable terrain and environmental data collected by the on-site Nepali team, a clear and concise project plan including materials and costs, building expertise from villagers, advice from the MIOX Corporation and our own experience in all stages of planning and implementation.
Now everyone can raise their water bottles and give a toast to good health and energy efficient water consumption thanks to the efforts of all involved. Namaste.