COUNTRY: NEPAL
PROJECT: 3 SUMMITS
DIRECTOR: JWALANT GURUNG

Nepal is a mountainous country situated between India and China. Though a small country, it contains 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world. It is rich in beauty and culture, but life can be quite hard in the high mountainous areas. The hardships are exacerbated by strong seismic activity in the region, resulting most recently in the devastating earthquake of 2015.

Jwalant is a native Nepali from the Gurung ethnic group. Though his parents started out with nothing, his father worked first as a British soldier and later in the trekking industry. He earned enough to give Jwalant the best education possible. Jwalant is now passionate about alleviating the poverty and suffering of his people. Originally, he focused on supporting orphanages, but after the 2015 earthquake he shifted his energy to the reconstruction of schools that suffered severe damage.

Students need more than a building, however. They need good teachers, and that is hard for poor villages to afford. Jwalant therefore gives his schools a “teacher’s fund” – money to be used for microloans for local villagers. The villagers benefit from access to financial capital, and interest from the loans funds the teachers’ salaries.

Jwalant believes the best way to overcome poverty in remote regions is giving children, especially girls, access to a good education. Most villages do not have secondary schools (8th grade and up), however, and poor families cannot afford to send their children to boarding schools in Kathmandu. He therefore wants to build a girl’s hostel at a regional school so girls can continue their educations.

Most of Jwalant’s work is focused in the eastern part of Nepal – far from the tourist regions of Annapurna and Everest that receive quite a bit of income and aid from the many visitors. He prefers to work in the most deprived regions of his country. It is in such high, remote villages that he feels most at peace… most at home. And it is there that he is bringing hope and igniting dreams for a better future.