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"Himali Sir": A beacon of light in Upper Dolpo

April 24, 2018 18:00 PM Chhatra Karki


A voluntary campaign launched by a social activist Binod , who is popularly known as Ghangjong Sir i.e. Himali Sir, has spread the light of education in various far-flung villages of Upper Dolpo.   

KATHMANDU, April 24: The life of Binod , 36, would have taken a different path had he not received an opportunity to teach students from Upper Dolpo. As a person treasuring a dream of earning name and good earning,  would have either immigrated to some foreign country or would have been  making a good earning as a professional fine artist. 

But his meeting with the students from Upper Dolpo, who arrived in Kathmandu to avoid chilly winter back home, instilled a desire to help such students. Although born and raised in Kathmandu in poverty himself,  chose to go to Upper Dolpo and help the poor students there even without any hesitation. It has already been 13 years since he established his relations with Upper Dolpo as a voluntary teacher. His benevolent act in the region has helped transform lives of many people. 

Spends six month each year beginning April working at local schools in Upper Dolpo. His activities not just include teaching in classes, but also imparting lessons in painting, sports and a number of other creative activities. He also runs literacy classes for illiterate adults in the village and delivers life-saving drugs to patients in various far-flung villages that requires him to travel on foot for several days.

Chairman of She-Phoksundo Rural Municipality Tashi Dhondup said  has been friend of people in need. "Born and raised in the capital city,  has been a true friend of people in need. It is hard to find people like him," he said.

Many students, to whom  taught the alphabets, have already completed their higher education. They are now serving in different sectors including in education and health, and have joined local-level politics. Some of his students have returned home after completing their studies to work as teacher. Local guardians and students are elated with the works of . He has also earned accolades from the local administration. 

Upper Dolpo connection

It was the winter of 2004.  came to learn from Lopasang Lama, who owned a grocery at Naradevi, Kathmandu, that a teacher was required to teach children from Upper Dolpo. These children had come to Kathmandu to avoid the chilly winter in their home villages. He was then pursuing the second year of his bachelor's degree in fine arts.

Although he initially planned make a career in fine arts, his intuition told him that he would find himself happier teaching Nepali, maths and fine arts to the children. A few days later, he began teaching 84 children from Upper Dolpo in Jorpati, Kathmandu. A German organization named Dolpo Hilfie had run mobile classes for these children. 

His association with children from Dolpa for about six months proved to be a turning point in his life. He got an opportunity to learn about pitiable situation of people, mainly the children, living in Upper Dolpo. Although students had inquisitiveness to learn new things, schools there remained closed almost throughout the year. Lack of teachers would affect day to day classes in many schools in the region. 

Teachers deputed by the government would hardly report to the schools they were assigned to. It was a routine task for them to settle their attendance and draw their salary each month. Teaching and learning activities was almost non-existent there. "I then made a resolve to devote my life for the cause of children living in Upper Dolpo,"  recalled. 

"School with Nepali donors" campaign

After reaching Saldang area in Upper Dolpo, Shahi began teaching at a local school from Sunday through Friday. Each Saturday he would walk for five hours on foot to reach Komang village to run additional classes for children who were deprived of education as there was no school in the village. Apart from this, Shahi began running adult literacy classes for illiterate villagers in 2007, and in a few years time almost all illiterate villagers in Saldung and its neighborhood were able to read and write.

Realizing the need to build schools in villages, Shahi then launched a campaign to build schools with generous donations received from Nepali nationals living both at home and abroad as a part of his campaign "school with Nepali donors". Later, he along with his friends established Snow Yak Foundation, which does not accept donations from international organizations and foreign donors. "We accept funds voluntarily provided to us by Nepali nationals and use it to educate deprived children," said treasurer of the Foundation Shree Mani Raj Sharma. 

Over 845 students of various 17 schools in 10 different villages of Upper Dolpo have been receiving education and school materials through Snow Yak Foundation and E-Dolpa Project. The Foundation has also been sending volunteer teachers to far-flung villages in the district. Among other things, Shahi has been actively working to organize various awareness activities on education and health generating resources on his own. 

World's Best Teacher

Shahi was among the 50 candidates nominated globally from among 50,000 teachers this year for Varkey Global Teacher Prize. Although he could not make it to the final, Shahi is happy that his contribution to society has been finally recognized. "I have taken this nomination as recognition to my work. This has given me further encouragement to work for the betterment of the education sector in Dolpa," he said. 

In recent years, Shahi has been receiving a number of awards. But Shahi has been spending the reward money for social causes. For instance, Rotary Club in 2017 presented him with an award carrying a purse of Rs 111,111, which he handed over to Snow Yak Foundation. Similarly, Rotary Club Pashupatinath separately provided him Rs 50,000 in recognition of his selfless service and hard work. Of the total amount, Shahi handed over Rs 40,000 to Snow Yak Foundation and the remaining Rs 10,000 to a local orphanage despite the fact Shahi himself and his family back in Kathmandu reel through severe economic hardship.

Dream Unfulfilled

At least five volunteer teachers have been teaching English, Maths, and Science at various schools in Chugaun, Chhalgaun, Tripurakot, Dafu and Besgar villages in lower Dolpo under the sponsorship of Snow Yak Foundation. The Foundation plans to arrange 10 volunteer teachers in Upper Dolpo this year. Of them, six teachers will be local residents. "We invite applications for volunteer teachers through Facebook. We provide teaching trainings to the candidates selected through interview before sending them to the district for teaching," said Shahi. He has been encouraging youths to go to Dolpa and work there for at least six months.

When Shahi first reached Upper Dolpo, his only dream was to establish school and provide quality education to children. Almost 15 years since he first reached there, Shahi's dream has now been fulfilled to a great extent. "My dream has now expanded a bit further. I want to see Dolpa becoming self-dependant with its own resources and setting an example to other districts," he shared his dream that remains unfulfilled so far. 

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