Chapter Three – The Early Teaching Years

Mahabir Pun moved back to the Chitwan area of Nepal in the summer of 1973. His hometown was Birendranagar, but the government placed him in a small village where he began teaching science and math from 1st to 8th grades. It is interesting to note that despite being a large city for the area and far removed from available universities, it wasn’t until 2010 that the first university, Mid-western University, opened it’s doors to students. It demonstrates the lack of higher education and resources available to students in the Chitwan area.

Mahabir Pun at work in the Nepal Connection, his restaurant and think tank located in Thamel, Kathmandu.

Mahabir was a government appointed teacher and subject to their rules and regulations. He was paid by the government but was not considered an employee so he had no benefits. He began teaching science and math at a school in a small village called Dibyanagar. Over the next 13 years he was placed in five different schools. He had little control over his destiny due to the political corruption that stretched deeply into the education system especially in the rural districts. His tenor ended abruptly in 1987 when he had a run in with the Chief District Officer.

During his 13 years of teaching in the Chitwan area he was responsible to educate his younger siblings. His sisters, Dhankumarie, Gaumaya and Maya, along with his brothers, Ratna and Dambai were educated through the 12th grade with Mahabir’s help. As the eldest son he took this responsibility seriously, but told me once his youngest sibling was finished: “I was now free and no responsibility”. He began to dream again…and as so often occurs in life his dream was turned into a reality by the unexpected….one gnarly district officer.

Have you ever had an unexpected change in the course of your life driven by an unlikely source? Share your memories and comments with your fellow readers. I remember the day in August 1986 when a park ranger knocked on my tent and told me I had an emergency call. The call was from the admissions office of Marshall University School of Medicine which had tracked me down through friends to a national park in North Carolina. I had applied to medical school but not made the cut. Dr Brown, the Dean of Admissions, had an unexpected opening and chose me…he was willing to believe a 32 year old single mom with two kids could meet the challenge of medical school…he changed the course of my life and I am eternally grateful.

Thank you for reading my blog book and supporting this extraordinary man, Mahabir Pun. Join me next week for more stories about Mahabir’s early teaching years in Chitwan.

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