Chitra Pun is the HEF Field Officer and initial contact for volunteers once they arrive in Nepal. As the field officer he coordinates and tracks the various income earning projects, which are scattered across the 887 square mile Myagdi District in western Nepal. Since 2004 I have coordinate the HEF volunteers before their arrival in Nangi. We had worked together via email for years to ensure the transition was as seamless as a developing country in the middle of a civil war would allow. There were many bumps in the road but he always managed to absorb the shocks. It wasn’t until 2007 after the war ended that we met. That year I spent close to three months in Nangi and would see him off and on. But in the spring of 2009 I spent a month traveling with him around the Myagdi district and realized the extent of his work ethic, which is herculean. The following story gives you a sample of his abilities and dedication.
That spring I was teaching a series of medical classes including cardiac life support to the rural healthcare workers along with basic CPR and choking maneuvers to the “Aama Suma” which means Mother’s Group. We also visited four health clinics to assess their needs for supplies, equipment and structural improvements. He organized my travel for the month throughout the district including getting supplies to all four villages, setting up the schedule, notifying the healthcare workers, getting participants to the classes and keeping me fed and housed along the way. He, outfitted in a woolen hat, vest and jacket, easily plodded over ridges and down slopes, gaining and losing thousands of feet in elevation over dozens of miles. I, on the other hand, huffed and puffed along in as few clothes as decency would permit due to the heat but barely kept up with him. All the while he juggled the multiple projects he supervises for HEF, which included; papermaking, fishery, mushroom growing, cheese making, yak breeding, reforestation, the trekking lodges and the volunteer projects.
This year was no different…except for the cell phone. All the way up to Nangi for six hours his phone rang non-stop. It was clear it made his job both easier, for obvious reasons, but also harder as he was constantly at the mercy of whoever needed him. Yet I have never, in all these years…heard a sigh of fatigue, a disgruntled word or seen him shirk responsibility. He is a rare man who consistently does what is right and not what is easy…and in Nepal, doing what is right is never easy.
Next week join me for the story about the new paper bead-making project we started on this trip…it will string you along and make you wish for more stories.