The Nepal Foundation was formed in 2003 in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area to promote educational and cultural links between people of Nepal and the U.S., and to encourage support of local projects in Nepal. The Foundation focuses on developing relationships that enrich the lives of people in both countries. Philadelphia’s world-renowned education and healthcare resources offer a wealth of knowledge and talent that can be shared. As The Foundation’s goals and projects expand, people from everywhere are welcome to offer ideas, expertise, and/or financial donations.
Our major endeavor, The Basa Project, has focused on Wards 7, 8 and 9 in a remote area of the Solu-Khumbu District, where basic necessities may be in short supply, such as clean water, access to adequate health care and educational opportunities, and means of farming above a subsistence level. The region was chosen because Foundation Board members have visited people and schools in that area, had experience in some past projects and made friends in the village of Rapchha, which is convenient for the three wards. Our goal was and is to help the local people assess their needs and resources, strengthen cooperative community processes and work together toward long-term sustainable solutions.
The major earthquakes and ongoing aftershocks in April and May 2015 caused around 9,000 deaths and unimaginable destruction from Kathmandu to the Mt. Everest region. Significant aid and assistance was donated, organized, and delivered, even to some very remote areas, in the following year. Villagers in leadership roles and The Foundation’s Project Manager sent reports and photos from the area where we have funded projects. Half the homes are destroyed or unsafe; no lives were lost locally but rebuilding will be slow. The Nepal Foundation received much-needed tax-deductible donations for assistance in the remote region where we have ongoing projects have been effective in education and the importance of hygiene, water systems, health care and sustainable farming. We are now coordinating plans more closely with several other NGOs to proceed with projects involving healthcare and rebuilding schools and homes.
The Basa Project, begun in 2010 and well underway before April 2015, was made possible by very generous contributions from Aqua America, Inc., The Ardmore Rotary Club, a personal challenge grant matched by many individual and group donations, and a grant from The Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania Presbyterian Church. Much of the coordination and travel is on a volunteer basis, and in-kind donations from friends and Board members are important. We have been able to pay Nepalis for materials and transport, and, as needed, skilled help with translation, training, construction, maintenance. They also give much in volunteer time and labor.The Nepal Foundation enlisted help from other NGOs and groups which are active or interested in similar goals for the region, including NEWAH (Nepal Water for Health), IDE (International Development Enterprises). Sharing expertise and resources helped prevent wasteful duplication, strengthened the program, and provided an example of diverse groups working together toward the common goal of a stronger, healthier and self-sufficient community.
Partnering with The British Council in late 2012, we invested in a 14-day training session for 29 teachers in the project area to learn or improve English teaching skills. There have been follow-up sessions for, and evaluations from the participants, who found this to be very helpful.
A vital link in The Basa Project has been a young man named Yadav Rai whose experience, education and abilities, including fluency in English, has made him an invaluable coordinator. Originally from the village of Rapchha, he has worked with The Nepal Foundation and with other groups on projects aimed at improving Basa’s schools and infrastructure. Yadav is a highly respected and dedicated leader. Much of our success has been due to his diligence and personal interest in the possibilities for improving education and health in the region. (A talented musician, composer and poet as well, a CD of Yadav’s work is available for sale. (See our Homepage for more details.)
In other projects The Nepal Foundation has:
Helped to establish an independent organization in Nepal early this year, with a Nepali Board of Directors, which shares TNF goals and can coordinate projects more directly. In February, 2016, they organized a delivery of warm clothes and blankets to the Basa Project area, enlisting help from other volunteer and civic groups.
Established cooperative arrangements between some US hospitals and Patan Hospital in Kathmandu for the exchange of ideas, training, and equipment. GE healthcare donated medical equipment for a new wing of the Patan Hospital. Doctors have volunteered time there working and teaching;
Sponsored events in the US to create awareness of issues in Nepal;
Participated in conferences, meetings and celebrations organized by Nepalis in the US;
Convened staff from the Nepali Parks and Wildlife Department and the US National Park Service to collaborate on personnel training and the design of a Visitors’ Center in Sagarmatha Park, where Mt. Everest is located;
Organized trips to Nepal to increase understanding between people in the US and Nepal, to research potential avenues for assistance with a component of personal involvement;
Initiated an Artist-in-Residence Program, which enabled several young Nepali artists to spend time in the US working independently on their individual projects while learning about America;
Assisted a group which gives micro loans to individuals ready to start small local businesses in Nepal.