Melamchi Ghyang, a village in Nepal
A trekking adventure 1999 brought us there. The remote village is in Helambu, in an area rarely visited by tourists, North of Kathmandu at 2,660 meters altitude. It is mainly just a lunchstop for trekkers and a holy spot for buddhists. It looks like any village in Nepal and yet there was something about it.
The village grows some base crops (potatoes, carrots, onions and apples) but most rely on jobs abroad (Inda, Emirates, Korea or even the US), leaving their children to be raised by the grandparents.
We met a very motivated man there: Purna Gautam. He arrived from a different region by coincidence. He has a clear vision on education and development which tracked with our ideas. Avoid paternalism and focus on education. In order to achieve this he started a school. Not just any school, but an institute of learning that could measure up to the private school, but at an affordable price. He did this in a village where hardly any Nepalese was spoken and where most were illiterate.
Since our first meeting the numer of pupils rose from a handful to 250, from a class in a meadow to a proper building with dormitories and classrooms (built by the British NGO CAN). Impressive numbers, but they are even better when you consider that our pupils always passed the state exams at the end of the year. Melmachi Ghyang school was awarded model school of Sindupalchok province, year after year.
250 pupils is a lot more than just the local kids. Our pupils also come from the wide area around Melamchi Ghyang. That is why a hostel is part of the school buildings. Those children typically follow basic schooling (till year 5) in their own villages.
We were making plans to extend the school with an 11th and 12th class. And then the earth moved: