It all started with a conversation with a village carpenter.
The carpenter told me about a school nearby which was providing quality education to the local children.
“I wish my two little children could go to that school”
he lamented. He could not afford to pay $15 a month.
I had just arrived in the mountain village of Chaukori, the day before, with a backpack on my back. Leaving my wife and two children at home in the US, I was on a vacation to see the sun rise over some of the tallest Himalayan peaks in India
I had also returned to India for another reason – to get to know the India that I missed out on while growing up by talking to and learning about the lives of those Indian people whose engaging smiles belied their desperate lives.
This conversation in 2008 with the poor carpenter in the village of Chaukori in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand helped me understand the hard life in these beautiful mountains and the lack of basic education for children there.
By “that school”, the carpenter was referring to Himalaya Public School. In 1999 the Karki family left a secure life in Nainital, to start the Himalaya Public School (now known as Himalaya Inter College) with the intention of providing whatever little education they could to the children in these remote mountain villages.
What started with three children in a makeshift, donated cowshed, grew year after year into a school that today provides an outstanding academic education for these children of the Kumoun Region of the Himalayas.
Visiting the school for the first time in 2008, I encountered eager, hopeful, bright children, despite the lack of basic resources, school materials, electricity, and hot water.
I had a strong desire to help the carpenter’s children, which then quickly evolved into a desire to help the entire community. With this inspiration I founded Himalayan Education Foundation (HEF).
Over the years, in partnership with amazing local dedicated leaders in these mountain villages in Uttarakhand, the Himalayan Education Foundation is scaling deep, developing sustainable working relationships so that the children and families of the mountain villages gain basic skills and empower themselves to change their community.
Over the years, as we got to know these communities, their challenges and their joys, we have also realized that more than anything else we want to support these communities to become sustainable – a real challenge in an age facing economic, environmental and social threats.
At HEF, we can make a difference in that direction through education – through lifelong education, not just academic education but also community education across a broad spectrum of needs and interests of the communities.
The carpenter opened his hearth and his heart to me, inspiring an organization that now partners closely with leaders in three Himalayan communities. We depend deeply on the guidance of these leaders and friends.