Two Projects at once

I began working with schools in the Dang Valley in 1988.  We rebuilt our first school using local materials and international ideas in 1989, nearly 30 years ago.  That first school in Saudiyar has grown, and now services twice as many classes as it did when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.    It remains the center of that and surrounding villages.  Some of the same people whom I knew in 1988 still work at the school.  In fact, the janitor is the same guy.

Jeff Gaura sitting with other teachers at Saudiyar School after construction was completed in 1989.

Saudiyar School, circa 1989.  I am covered in pink!

We have done several construction projects since then.  In 2017, we want to do two more projects. Here are some of the details.  Hopefully, some of the roles we need people to take will spark an interest.

The first project on our 2017 agenda follows our commitment to and pattern of supporting education and building construction in the Dang Valley of Nepal.  Madan Bhandary School needs an additional building.  We speculate the cost of construction and require us to raise ~$9,000 US, with all subs included.  Outside of cash contributions, we raise money for projects like this by selling Yak blankets and Tibetan sound bowls.  Since we have no expenses outside of program costs (no full time staff nor offices to maintain), we get to keep 100% of our revenue until we need to spend it on programs in country.  That said, we are about 30% of the way to our goal for this school up fit.

Khopi Ram Chaudhary doing laundry at his nepali home

Khopi Ram Chaudhary, one of our board members, doing laundry.

Despite not yet having the money for next year’s school expansion project, we have approved a 2nd project for next year.  Two Nepali Board Members, Nav Raj and Khopi Ram, consulted the community and decided that both the timing and the culture are ready to have a model elementary school installed.  This opportunity has greater potential to impact the region than the school upgrade, as it will introduce modern educational methods to a greater community through the entire region of the country.  The “timing” of the project comes from the gift of a free building that could be retrofitted to support 4 grades of students at no cost to The Nepal Project, with the source of land, building and up fit being covered by the community.  The Nepal Project has been asked to provide training, per diem, hiring fees, admin costs and travel for the teachers and administrator.  This is a good deal for both of us!

The vision is for the local community and The Nepal Project to staff it with the most trained teachers and have it be a model school that others can come to in order to observe and acquire the skills needed to better educate the next generation of students and teachers.  It would be a teacher training area, in addition to an elementary school.  It would employ the most trained teachers in the community, at a good salary, and it would attract students and families who were interested in giving their children the greatest chance to succeed in an ever growing global economy.  In this school, traditional teaching methods are abandoned for more hands on, student lead educational methods.

Nav Raj Adhikari on his first plane flight with Jeff Gaura

Nav Raj Adhikari on his first plane flight with Jeff Gaura.  Nav Raj attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, for a semester.

All of our previous projects had a single community and a single school in mind.  This project will service the entire valley and potentially impact the midwest region of the country.

Best part:  total budget for building, teacher training and administration start up is $2600 US.  It goes beyond words to express my gratitude at having thrifty administrators within our organization.  combine that with the blessing of a free building, and we decided to make this project happen in 2017.

Megan Riley’s vision of bringing over a small contingent of  adventurous runners to join us for the Annapurna 100 Ultra Marathon opens up the chances to raise the funds for these two projects.  She is recruiting others to join us on a trip that will include running the Ultra followed by a visit to Dang to see the schools and the projects, first hand.  Not only will some folks be joining us who are first time Ultra Marathoners, there will be some folks who have no intention of running but only wish to explore Nepal…Nepal is a travel destination on nearly everyone’s bucket list.

Our needs at the end of 2016 are as follows:

  • We are looking for more runners to join us for the Ultra Marathon. Nothing instills enthusiasm like participation.
  • We need to raise nearly $8,600 more dollars to cover both projects.
  • We need prayer over our efforts. This sounds like altruistic work and gets labelled as noble by folks who don’t get it, but the truth is that efforts to help those who lack the ability to reciprocate represent some of our greatest efforts as human beings to make a difference in the world.

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