Tuesday 20 December 2016

WELNepal Success Stories

Nine years ago, an extremely bright young student named Kalpana was having a very difficult time convincing her family to allow her to continue her education past the secondary school level. Her parents, especially her grandfather, felt that it was totally unnecessary for a girl to go to school, especially if it was going to cost money.  Besides, at the age of 18, it was time for her to be married off, by arrangement.

Nicola, a good friend of WELNepal, offered to cover Kalpana’s school fees for as long as she wished to study. With that, Kalpana was able to reject her family’s plea to be married. That was nine years ago. Kalpana now has her masters in mathematics and teaches at the high school level.
Kalpana tells me that her grandfather had a problem with the local Nepal authorities over some land rights. After Kalpana filed all the proper documents and dealt with bureaucrats (some of whom are always on the lookout for some pocket change), her grandfather, with tears in his eyes, thanked her for saving him.

And, that was the beginning of WELNepal’s work with those young women who wish to study and not to get married and make babies.

Meet Apsara. Apsara’s mother is the custodian/janitor at a private school in a little town near WELNepal’s work area. Because of Apsara’s mom’s paltry salary, Apsara was allowed to attend the school free of charge. Kids, being what they are everywhere, had a good laugh at Apsara’s expense. Apsara had the last laugh, when she finished top of her class every year.  Of course, Apsara had no chance of continuing her education.  That’s when Apsara’s good friend Val, who lives in New York, offered to help. Apsara has one more year of study for her bachelor’s degree and she fully intends to achieve her masters. Nobody laughs at Apsara any more.

Sharmila’s father owns a tea shop and Sharmila’s father and his two wives stay home while Sharmila runs the shop.

The shop was also Sharmila’s home.  She would get up before five every morning to make the eight kilometer bike ride to her classes, which started at 6:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. after class, she would pedal back to open her tea shop and work until 7 or 8.  Sharmila would make her dinner, study until 10 or e11 and then sleep on the only table in the shop, and start all over the next day.  Sharmila’s father refused to pay for any of Sharmila’s school fees.  Sharmila once said to me, with a sad little smile on her face; “I think maybe my father is not such a good man.”  But Isabelle is a good woman and covered Sharmila’s school expenses.

Was Sharmila a good student?  You bet she was.  After getting married and having a baby, Sharmila continued her studies and won a scholarship to study in Japan.  I’m betting that Sharmila, after completing her schooling, will choose to stay in Japan and have her husband and baby join her. She will likely find a well paying job and send money back to Nepal to help her brothers and sisters, so they don’t have to work in the family tea shop.

This is Samjhana. Samjhana’s father is also the janitor of a government school.  Her mother washes clothes for some of the lodges and hotels in the area.  When not in school, Samjhana, as the oldest daughter, was responsible for cooking for her three siblings and doing the housework.  Samjhana is our poster girl.  She has the two criteria that is required for our bursary support; dirt poor and darned smart.  Samjhana is now studying for her masters in accounting and has a job keeping books for the biggest restaurant in the tourist town of Sauraha.


Meet Priti BK. Yes, that is her last name. It’s pronounced “Bee-Kah.”  Her last name would tell any person of Hindu faith that Priti is from the “untouchable “ caste.

Priti BK
That hasn’t stopped Priti.  Along with studying for her degree, Priti has also taught one of our adult women’s literacy classes. If fact, she taught them so well that the group of women are now involved in our income generating projects.  Priti has not stopped to rest on her laurels. This year, she is back teaching another group of women how to read and write in their own Devanagari script for the first time in their lives.  But Priti still needs help.  Anne in Toronto has offered to be her “sponsor” while Priti achieves all that she wishes.

And finally, meet Sonu. Sonu’s high school education was covered by a scholarship offered by the private school she attended. Sonu took full advantage by passing with “Distinction ” at the top of all students, not only in her school, but in all the schools in the district.

Sonu’s scholarship ended when she passed out of secondary school. But Marla stepped in to ensure that Sonu gets to keep studying. Early this year, I met Sonu while I was in Nepal.  Sonu announced to me that she loves to practice her English and proceeded to not stop practicing her English with me, while asking for answers about everything from what’s inside the earth to what on the other side of the stars.

As you can see, there’s a pool of untapped talent in Nepal that just needs a little extra help to flourish. These women had a will, they just needed a way.
While all these stories had happy ending, many do not.

Perhaps you might want to give the gift of learning this Christmas.

For more details, email WELNepal president David Walton at david@welnepal.org

Sunday 9 October 2016

Error of Omission

Ritu and the young family

If follow our blog, you would have read about the young orphaned family who were left with nowhere to live, and no one to see to their daily needs.
We did mention that these children have now been given a home and are being well looked after.  

Due to a miscommunication with friends in Nepal, we neglected to give proper credit to All Angels Nepal, a charitable organization based in Holland that was totally financially responsible for the building of their house and for caring for the children. This organization is still funding their ongoing needs.

All Angels Nepal is also involved in many other worthwhile projects that benefit the Nepali people who live in the southern lowland area of the country. To see more of what they do, visit: www.allangelsnepal.nl

We apologize to All Angels Nepal for our oversight and error of omission.

Friday 2 September 2016


Nigel in Nepal
My old Mancunian friend Nigel visited me in my little village in southern Nepal this past winter.  He came by rented motorcycle from Kathmandu, and anyone who has travelled that road will tell how daunting it can be.  Before coming, he asked his Facebook friends to sponsor him, with all proceeds going to help the women of Nepal

For those of you who are hearing about this for the first time, I will tell you that there are now about 60 women involved in income generating skills projects because of Nigel and the generosity of his Facebook friends (see photo below).

But this story is about David’s old friend Nigel’s serendipitous meeting with a young woman who needed some help.

Nigel and David Daai
Nigel, after hearing stories about those young female students whose continuing education depends on support from WELNepal sponsors, was very keen on helping one of our “bright lights.” Since WELNepal had no candidates at the time, we counseled patience.

On the very last day of Nigel’s stay in the village, we visited Ritu, another long time Nepali friend of David’s.  For those of you who read our latest blog, you’ll know all about Ritu.

At Ritu’s home there were a lot of children who were not related to Ritu.
Nigel's Group
  Ritu explained that these youngsters were a family of five whose mother abandoned them after her husband died. Ritu’s husband was involved in a little project that built the five children a tiny home with the provision that the oldest daughter see to the needs of her four siblings.

All Angels Nepal, a charitable organization based in Holland, (www.allangelsnepal.nl) was fully financially responsible for the building and overseeing of their house and care of this orphan family. Furthermore, All Angels Nepal is continuing to support these kids on an ongoing basis.

While the little house was being built, all the youngsters spent time at Ritu’s where they received love and care and good food. Now, the little ones spend as much time at Ritu’s as they do in their new little house. Back to “Serendipity.” The oldest daughter, we were told, quickly found herself a husband and left the remaining children under the care of the next eldest, a teenage girl named Bhagawoti.

“Poor Bhagawoti,” said Ritu.  “After next year, she will have to leave her studies because there is no money left to help her continue in post-secondary schooling. It is so sad; Bhagawoti is such a good student.”

Nigel and David jumped.

“Go and get Bhagawoti!” they demanded. 

Bhagawoti was brought back to Ritu’s house with a question mark on her face.  That question mark turned into the biggest smile in the history of the world when Nigel told her that he would pay for her schooling as long as she wished to study.

Nigel and Bhagawoti found each other…serendipity.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Ritu and Betty

Ritu and Betty
I met Ritu in 2010. She knew of me and I knew of her as one of David’s stalwarts. I went that year with Max (my and David’s son) for a stroll in the Himalayas and after that, we of course visited the Chitwan Valley.

It is truly a place of beauty and for me, very exotic with camels or elephants passing beneath my hotel window. The air was also clear enough when we were there that from the village we could see the mountains we had recently left.

Manis, Ritu, Shiva and Mamata
David thought it would be a fun idea to surprise Ritu with our visit. He never told her that Max and I were coming to Sauraha. We rented bicycles to take the pocked and stony road to Ritu’s house. I remember the acres of chartreuse yellow mustard fields and little villages with large animals docile, sitting down amongst people, dogs and chickens. As we rode up to the house, Ritu was outside and was very happy to see David. She smiled when she saw other guests coming with him. Then David introduced us. “This is Betty.”

I never saw such an expression of love pour out from a face as what appeared on Ritu’s. It was as if her whole heart tumbled out onto her face and smothered her vocal cords, making her speechless. We hugged a long time. She cried. She laughed. She forgot all her English.

This woman did not even know me, yet she welcomed me like family.

Ritu lives with her husband Shiva and two children, a daughter, Mamata and a son, Manis. They made us a delicious daal bhat dinner of rice, lentils, vegetables, a spicy pickle and tender, delectable chicken. Shiva cooked the meat on an outdoor fire and Ritu prepared everything else over a one-burner kerosene stove.

The memorable mustard fields
After dinner, Manis searched the radio for some music. Ritu insisted on teaching me how to dance Nepali style and wanted us to dance together. Our captive audience enjoyed my clumsy attempts until eventually I got the hang of it. Of course, I got more hugs.

When David first met Ritu, she was working in a micro bank but lost her job due to downsizing. She found another job in a larger micro bank and decided to continue her studies even while working. Raising and feeding her family were ongoing, with Shiva as a supportive partner.

Ritu finished her secondary education, which led to work in the accounting office at the large micro bank. To add to their income, Shiva and Ritu built an extra room on the house so that they could lodge guests. Ritu loves the company and she can polish up her English.

Ritu and the orphans
Close to where they live, there was a family tragedy. The father of five children died and the mother, who could not cope, simply ran away and deserted her children. Ritu and Shiva could not sit by and watch this. First, Ritu started feeding the children. Then Shiva helped build a small home for the family of five. In a way, Ritu adopted the family. They now come over to her house all the time to eat with them. She holds the young ones on her lap and has a whole new family to love and laugh with.

Ritu and Shiva were also lucky to get a little help. All Angels Nepal, a charitable organization based in Holland, (www.allangelsnepal.nl) was fully financially responsible for the building and over seeing of their house and care of this orphan family. Furthermore, All Angels Nepal is continuing to support these kids on an ongoing basis.

I am always impressed by how people with less means than most of us have in this part of the world can be so generous with whatever they have and with their love. I felt rather privileged that I was on one end of that stick. I know that Ritu’s capacity for love is boundless. Those who fall in her wake are very lucky…as was I.

Betty M Walton

Tuesday 5 July 2016


The women of Bhokaha
Most of you have heard it said: “You can give someone a fish, or you can teach them how to catch fish.”  But it is only when they continue to catch fish after you have taught them that makes the project sustainable.

Since farming comes naturally to all those women who take part in our projects, we thought of vegetables instead of fish.

All Nepali village women know how to tend their gardens, but
learning how to grow vegetables without the use of pesticide and insecticide sprays is important. Now, the women can grow healthier food and earn an income, since many Nepalis are aware of the advantages of chemical free produce and are willing (and able) to pay a little extra for it. 

Our plan was simple; the women’s groups involved would rent a small piece of land, equivalent to the size of two thirds of a football field, paid for by WELNepal, along with the seed and the furrowing and the water pump and the training in growing chemical free produce.  After three years, WELNepal’s funding would end and, hopefully, the women would continue renting land and growing healthy vegetables; a sustainable project.

Let me tell you about the women of Bhokaha. Six or seven years ago the women of this little village, who you can see in the photo above took part in our first chemical free farming project.

Son Mathi
This year, those same women, under the motivation of the resident Alpha woman, Son Mathi, are renting FIVE FOOTBALL FIELDS of land.  They have also opened their own vegetable shop to sell their goods and, to put ALL their produce to good use, they have opened a catering company to feed the folks at festivals, weddings and any and all of the many other reasons Nepalis love to gather, sing, dance, and of course eat.

How is that for sustainability?  I think that the women of Bhokaha have blown “sustainability” right out of the water.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

My Peeps in Nepal

While I am in Nepal, the work I do is truly a labor of love.  But the work I do would be a lot more laborious without the help of my co-workers and friends, who get me through the days.

Raj, Shreya and Harimaya
Harimaya, WELNepal’s first coordinator, brought us the talents of her husband Raj.  Later on, Raj and Harimaya had little Shreya. The power couple looks after all of our projects, and does so beautifully.

Rabeeta, Prasamchya and Santos
Rabeeta became our first assistant coordinator.  She was brought on board to help Harimaya.  Shortly thereafter, she brought on husband Santos — the man who helped her make their first daughter, Prasamchya. He has also contributes to Raj and Harimaya’s tough work. 

Bimala and Raj
Medical practitioners (and married couple) Raj and Bimala have the job of keeping me healthy.  They have done a great job so far. I have yet to die in my village of Sauraha.

Raju, who runs the last of the cyber shops in my village, has the unenviable job of keeping all my photos and WELNepal documents in computer order.  And keeping me in order, when the internet Gods desert me.

Poor Raju, his thriving internet cafĂ© is so deserted these days because of Wi-Fi that he is thinking of opening a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream franchise.

Gayatri and family
Lastly is Gayatri Rimal. I wandered into Gayatri’s restaurant 18 years ago.  That was the first and only time she charged me “tourist prices” for my dinner. I’ve been eating with Gayatri and her family ever since. She now works in conjunction with Raj and Bimala to make sure that I eat properly in order to recover quickly from all my stomach problems.

To all my people in Nepal, I couldn’t do what I do without you.

Thank you all.

Monday 11 April 2016

Nigel's Photo Blog


Here at WELNepal, we're lucky to have fantastic friends and supporters who go the distance for us each and every day by spreading the word about us and, most importantly, the wonderful women we work with. 

Earlier this year, WELNepal and David Daai's good friend Nigel Wilson took a trip to Nepal to check out the incredible country and the beautiful people who call it home.

Here's what he had to say about his adventure:

I had always promised myself that one day I would make the journey to Nepal to visit my old friend David. 

I have to sheepishly admit that it has taken 20 years to finally make it to Sauraha and see first hand the amazing work that David, Raj and Harimaya are doing.

A plan was hatched... Rather than fly into Kathmandu and take the bus to the village, why not hire a motorcycle and navigate the perilous terrain myself? Even better, see if people would like to sponsor the adventure. To cap it all, why not do it on a beaten old Royal Enfield Bullet?

Friends, family (plus a fair few anonymous donors) stepped up magnificently. Over a thousand pounds has been raised.

As for myself, it was an incredible experience. The spectacular scenery matched only by the kindness and generosity of the wonderful Nepali people. All the more extraordinary in the face of the adversity and calamity of recent events.

I am grateful that in a small way, with the help of so many generous people, we were able to help Welnepal with it's vital ongoing work. 

Needless to say, I am already planning the 2017 return.

20 years? It was worth the wait. 

Nigel on the road from Kathmandu to Sauraha

Some of the women of WELNepal

David Daai with a women's group

Nigel with WELNepal's coordinators Raj and Harimaya

Nigel with his beloved Royal Enfield bike

To all of Nigel's Facebook friends - old and new - and to those who didn't know Nigel, but thought that helping women in Nepal was a good cause, thank you - David Daai