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.