Short overview in English:
The organisation Friends of Chepel e.V. was founded in October 2012 following a private initiative and a close personal friendship with the family of Karma Sherpa from Chepel, a remote village in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal. I met Karma, who is a Sherpa, during my first trekking tour in Nepal. Since then he and other villagers have acted as my tour guides on numerous occasions, eventually culminated in a visit by Karma to Germany in 2011. In 2012 I was invited by Karma to visit Chepel and during this visit the idea of a social project was born and came to fruition later that year.
Karma and Isabelle in Kathmandu, September 2013
The villageChepel lies to the East of Kathmandu and is only reached after a tough and long five-day hike through the mountains crossing several valleys and rivers and passes. Chepel lies at an altitude of 2300 m; the village is widely spread out in the mountains and cannot be reached by road. Around 400 people live in Chepel in very modest circumstances. There is a small school but a shortage of teachers; the water & electricity supply is either very primitive or non-existent and the available health care is also inadequate.
The non-profitable and voluntary organisation “Friends of Chepel” supports projects intended to help the village and its citizens. The aim and work of the organisation is based on sustainability, and respects the culture and wishes of the people. We are trying to support the people of the village with targeted help based on their own initiatives.
For this purpose a local committee has been formed which meets regularly for discussions about new projects. Suggested projects are then brought to the attention of the whole village and agreed upon. In this way the culture and wishes of the people of Chepel are respected. All projects are planned and thoroughly checked for their sustainability. And the active support of the villagers, mostly their manpower, is asked for each project.
Each and every single Euro given for the foundation goes 1: 1 to Chepel, for that I personally guarantee!
Current projects focus on three main areas:
Approximately 70 children are attending the state school which only has two teachers and one schoolbook for each school subject. The school has no heating, no electricity, and the walls and floors were plastered.
Already achieved goals:
- Since January 2014 the foundation sponsors an English teacher and each class has one lesson of English every day starting with class 1. The success of this is amazing! At my visit in 2016 already the youngest kids after 4 months of school could recite the alphabet in English, count to 100 and sing English songs.
- Reconstruction after earthquake: The school has 2 buildings (and an extra toilelt also sponsored by the foundation in 2013). One of the main buildings was completely destroyed during the earthquake in 2015, the other one was damaged. In autumn 2015 already the destroyed building was reconstructed with a little support from the Government and around 6000,- Euro support by Friends of Chepel e.V.
From autumn 2016 on the second building was renovated.
- Friends of Chepel e.V. has started a scholarship program which supports 4 pupils from classe 6 - 11 to be able to join the secondary school in Sotang. The total cost per child is 500,- Euro per year for school fees, books, school uniform, housing, and food. The foundation supports each pupil with 250,- Euro per year. I had the opportunity to visit the secondary school in Sotang in September 2016. The Head of the school gave us a detailed iintroduction into the whole system of his school and this made a very professional and well oraganized iimpression!
- The floor in the class rooms in Chepel`s primary school has been concreted in 2013
- All pupils in Chepel have been provided with a set of school uniforms and with warm clothes for the winter
- Heating possibilities in the class rooms
- A fence around the school area in order to keep everything clean, tidy ans safe
For all achieved projects see pictures under "Neuigkeiten/news" and "Projekte/projects"!
Future Aims & Projects
- Supply of playing material for inside (especially kindergarden) and outside
- Further appointment of the English teacher for 2017
- To provide basic supply of medication, dressings,disinfection etc.
- To train a local person to provide basic first aid and provide guidance on storage of medicines
- To organise a yearly visit by a medically trained doctor or dentist
- To establish a health point in Chepel for the district of Pawi (which is the district village for 9 surrounding communities, one of them being Chepel)
The main concern is the lack of a reliable energy supply. The realisation of a micro hydro power plant is currently ongoing. We still seek for the final ok by the Nepali government.
A steel bridge for free
Another project to improve the infrastructure has been successfully finished in June 2015. After an article in a newspaper a German engineer offered to construct a steel bridge for free here in Germany. Of course the big challenge was how to get that bridge from Karlsruhe in Germany to Chepel in Nepal, preferably for free as well. After a lot of phone calls and inquiries and refusals I finally managed to get the whole transport and the constriction in Chepel for free as well. So in November 2013 the starting signal for the construction could be given. The steel bridge has now been transported from Germany to Nepal and is currently being built up in Chepel. The stone basements are already there. The bridge will be erected over a small river, separating the village. The existing wooden bridge was destroyed by heavy rainfall last year, and since then tree stumps are used to cross the river.
In the course of the great support by a German transportation company (Dachser) and the Umckaloabo foundation (www.umckaloabo-stiftung.de) the bridge devided into single pieces could be shipped to India for free and brought to Chepel by truck via Kathmandu and later by porters. The heaviest parts had a weight of 84 kg. Even these 4 elements were carried by porters from Chepel to their village. The bridge was built by the villagers on a strong stone foundation. In June 2015 the bridge could be "opened".
A pig farming project has started in the beginning of 2016. The foundation gave the money for 37 pigs (40 Euro each pig) and the pigs were given to several families in Chepel and the surrounding villages.
For many pictures about that project please also see under "Neuigkeiten/news" and "Projekte/projects".