HIMANCHAL EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
November 29, 2009
I actually came to know of the dream back of the formation of the Himanchal Educational Foundation when I was a professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, NE. A young man named Mahabir Pun gave a presentation at a lunch for selected faculty members and other community citizens. He detailed his dream to expand education in the village of his birth -- Nangi village, in the Myagdi district in Nepal. His story is found on the website mentioned in this listing.
If you are reading this review you need to know that Nepal is a country that supports education in its principal cities primarily; the rural areas are less well supported beyond grade 7. Mahabir's efforts to convince village members that education was an important key to progress paid off. They first added 3 more grades to those supported by the government. The Himanchal Education Foundation, run by volunteer board members, dedicates itself to supporting education in Nangi and, since its inception, two additional grades beyond high school have been added.
Meanwhile Mahabir has continued to be active and has worked to expose volunteers to the community he serves. It was my good fortune, after retiring in 1997, to go to Nangi in 1998 and to teach English to the upper grade prior to their graduation tests.
All 6 students passed that year and got their "School-leaving Certificate", a remarkable feat since, at that time, only about 38% of those attempting that test passed nationwide!
When I was in Nangi there was only radio telephone; now the village is connected wirelessly to the world. Additionally, the Himanchal Education Foundation has expanded to include professional volunteers who support nurse's training in the village, who encourage the development of the hand-made paper industry in Nangi, and, of course, continue to partially fund the salaries of teachers in those grades that have been added.
The beautiful thing about my volunteer efforts was the wonderful contact with the people of Nangi village and the joy of learning that the students showed.
Please consider making this little village continue to come true. Support it financially or, better yet, if you can offer a service that they can use, take the 9 hour trek up the mountain to the village and donate your time and skill. You will be changed by the experience in this little village and the people who live there.
I also served as a Himanchal Education Foundation Chairman of the Board for a number of years, so I am technically more that a volunteer. I continue to support their work financially.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
the way it has helped to develop education in not only Nangi village, but also surrounding villages nearby, including providing computer parts so that computers and wireless access could come to this remote Nepali area
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
I would try to see that Nangi graduates might qualify for scholarships to get more education in Nepal and other countries. It would be great for them to come to the U.S., but also to help them return home to help their own villages and their country.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
the way the board members serve at their own expense as they travel to Nepal, share their skills and support the Foundation monetarily. This is truly a selfless effort and that effort really needs support. I truly has a positive impact on Nepal.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
When I was in the village there was an 18 year old west coast woman who was a very committed person. She took the trouble to learn enough Nepali to help women in make their work more efficient and healthy. She's only one hero who has helped.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
spread the concept of community development to other third-world countries, following the model used effectively in Nangi village. Mahabir's story would be a key to promoting this effort.
Ways to make it better...
I had been younger and had more energy when I went to Nangi. The projects there required more physical stamina than I could find. My classroom work was the easiest job there, but I would have like to help more with some of the building projects.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
the remote nature of many of the villages and the difficult political situation in Nepal, which leads to much uncertainty in the people in rural areas.
One thing I'd also say is that...
You have to keep in mind that I am a bit biased!
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & I spent 18 days in the village teaching English to the graduating class before they went to take the test that would determine whether or not they would graduate.