Chapter 8 – Volunteers (cont.)

Here follows a story about one volunteer couple…but it exemplifies the pattern of support that would enrich Mahabir’s dream. Each small success precipitates another and another and another…

One of the earliest first supporters of Mahabir Pun’s dream were a couple from Australia, Janita and Todd. They had traveled to Nepal in 1993 to trek. They found the country to be breathtaking and the people even more beautiful. Like many travelers they felt a need to give back to a country steeped in poverty. In 1995 using some of the earliest search engines they stumbled upon Mahabir and his vision. They knew this was where they wanted to cement their contribution to Nepal.

A Nangi student carries a box of calculators and books up the steep hillside.

Janita was a budding teacher and having limited personal finances she turned to her students at Billanock College. Bending their minds and influence they stirred their local community into donation mode. Thirty solar calculators were donated to the school in Nangi in 1996, along with books and sports equipment. Packed in boxes shipped from Australia they were transportation from Kathmandu to Beni by bus and truck. The students then spent two days carrying the boxes 10 miles and 5000 feet up the mountainside to Nangi. In those days there was no road from Beni to Nangi.

Todd, Janita and daughters.

Continuing their support over the years this couple were responsible for garnering donations to open the first Nangi Health Clinic and send the first computers to the school in 1998. All of these successes were achieved in small steps. For example, the college students sold snacks at lunchtime to raise money and Janita convinced friends to donate or refurbish older computers. Over the years the couple has continued their support for various income earning projects and most recently contributed to the funding for Mahabir’s Thamel restaurant, the Nepal Connection. Janita also wrote and published a short story book about Mahabir’s life called “Eye on the Goal”. It can be viewed and purchased here. Janita and Todd have since brought their two young daughters to Nepal and hope to instill in them life lessons about dedication, service and living your own truth.

As HEF’s volunteer coordinator for the last 10 years I’ve met many volunteers. We have worked together in Nepal and they have welcomed me into their own homes. Others I only know through phone conversations and email. Some have become friends. They come from all over the world, some with purpose and others searching for their own dream. There are young, middle-aged and seniors. They are mostly educated from varied occupations and social backgrounds. Some come once, but many return or continue their support through donations of time, skills, equipment and money. Despite their cultural differences their stories all carry the same thread…they are humbled and inspired to work with Mahabir Pun.

Join me next week for my own volunteer story, because it is the one I know best speaking from the heart.


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