"I had always wanted to go to Nepal and experience the beauty of the mountains. On my first trip I was fortunate to not only see that beauty but also to have experienced the culture and people in the villages of Bung and Chheskam.
I was moved by the poverty, strength and spirit of the people, especially the children. Now it is the people who bring me back and the hope that with help I could bring about some positive change in their lives.
There is an expression: Visit Nepal and your life will change. Mine did."
-- Candy Chaplin President of NCHEF
The mission of NCHEF is to improve the health, education and well being of impoverished children and women in Nepal.
Nepal Children's Health and Education Foundation is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization working to improve the the health and well-being of impoverished children and women in Nepal.
Nepal is a landlocked country, isolated between China (Tibet) and India. The Himalayans form its northern border, including Mount Everest and the other seven highest peaks in the world. The scenery is spectacular. However, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and the poverty level is very high in the remote regions. Until the mid-twentieth century, Nepal was an agrarian society having little contact with the outside world. The northern two-thirds of the country is very hilly and mountainous, making the building of infrastructure difficult and expensive. There are only 8500km of paved roads and some rural airports but most rural villages are accessible only by footpaths. About 90% of the people live in the rural areas.
Nepal Children’s Education was founded in the spring of 2001. While a college student Samantha Kenney traveled to Nepal with her father and decided to do something to improve the lives of the children in Nepal through education. With the help of her father, she started what has become this non-profit. The board is made up of volunteer parents and students, who have a desire to reach out and help others.
Although there is a need throughout this impoverished country of Nepal, we are convinced that it would be most meaningful to begin by focusing on just two villages, Bung and Chheskam, in hope that we can accomplish something significant and sustaining. In 2006, Candy Chaplin, the President of the Board, revisited the villages in Nepal and did an informal assessment of the priorities of the villagers by talking to many groups and individuals in the village. Based on these findings, the board decided to change the name to the Nepal Children’s Health and Education Foundation (NCHEF).
Our Focus: Bung and Chheskam
The very remote villages of Bung and Chheskam are in the northern part of the Solu Khumbu region. Footpaths are the only access to the villages. Most of the villagers are Kulung Rai, which is an indigenous group. Each village has about 800 homes with a combined population of 8,500. Over the centuries the villagers have terraced the hills and have eked out a meager existence largely from subsistence farming. The staples are wheat, maize, millet and potatoes. To earn some extra income some of the men leave the village to work in the seasonal trekking industry. Families live in simple homes made of stone and clay and most roofs are made from bamboo or thatched. The homes do not have running water and only recently a few families have installed small solar panels for electricity. Cooking is over an open wood fire in the center of the home. In the evening a single lamp may be lit that is fueled by kerosene, which is trekked in from a larger village, about a seven-day hike away. Goods continue to be transported in bamboo baskets that hang from the heads of the villagers, young and old. In this remote area many of the centuries old traditions continue today.
Though these villagers live in poverty with minimal if any health and education services, they are a friendly people with an enduring spirit and a determination to be self-sufficient and to thrive.