Field Notes from Gudel, Nepal

Mountain to Mountain’s 2008 goal has been to support the dZi Foundation’s, Revitalize a Village Project in Gudel, Nepal. This project model is changing the lives of thousands of people in some of the most remote Himalayan villages.  The program places control of development projects in the hands of the community from the very beginning, mobilizing leaders and education local villagers to support projects that are sustainable and serve within the existing social framework.

Gudel is located in eastern Nepal and this community is one of the poorest areas in Nepal, and the poorest in the world.

Elevation: Living areas located between 5,000-6000 feet

Population: 5,000

Language: Kulung Rai and Nepali

Primary Occupation: Sustenance farming and portering

Literacy: 61% of total population is illiterate, 75% of women

Average numbers of children per family: 4

Most Prized Possession:
Photographs that they have acquired over the years and keep in dusty journals and show to EVERYONE. They spend hours poring over them.

Field Notes from Gudel – July 2008
Ben Ayers
dZi Foundation Nepal Project Coordinator

We just had a fantastic field visit to the community, and I am very happy with the motivation of the local community members there. We have just completed the formation and training of 7 Parent Teacher Associations – one in each local school. Each school received a 2 day training and, while PTAs may not be a terribly dramatic program by our western standards, this initiative has already had a great impact upon the management of schools and the local investment in education.

We have also begun to survey and design a new drinking water project that will bring clean water to 80 households (about 400 people). This is a fairly significant undertaking as the water will need to be piped in from 3 kilometers away.

The construction process for the new school building in Namlung has begun with the quarrying of rocks and site preparation.

We have also secured funding for a large toilet construction program in Gudel. Our goal is to ensure that there are hygienic toilets in each home and at each school in Gudel – about 600 toilets total. This program is essential, as our baseline data shows a fairly high incidence of what seem to be tapeworm-caused illness and even death that is a direct result of using pig pens as common toilets.

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