My name is Jay Tamang and I am the Founder of Nepal FREED. In 2009, my brother Hira Tamang and I joined with nine board members from the region of Bhalche with a mission to provide BETTER EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN, ORPHANS AND THE PHYSICALLY DISABLED OF NEPAL. This is the story of Nepal FREED.
I was born and raised in the village of Bhalche, located in Nepal’s Nuwakot district. The local school only went up to the fifth grade, and only a few of the teachers there had been educated above the fifth grade level themselves. The nearest school that taught above that level was ten miles away – more than two hours on foot.
After completing grade five, higher education seemed a hopeless prospect for me, but my parents, conscious victims of their own lack of education, inspired me to make the arduous journey day after day. With their encouragement, I came to believe that education could give me the power to escape my poverty. Motivated by this dream, I crossed treacherous rivers and braved fierce monsoons for the next three years to attend school. I often had to cross a river in a basket with a pulley in order to get to the school.
While growing up in Bhalche, I remember many family members and neighbors plagued by health problems. Sore throats, coughs, toothaches, and headaches were daily afflictions. In the monsoon season, animal feces, sewage, litter, and pesticides flooded the water source, leaving many villagers with itchy feet, eye problems, diarrhea and disease. Villagers regularly seek treatment from the local shaman to heal their ills, but often, his “magic” proved ineffective. One of my brothers died of undiagnosed dehydration when I was four years old. When I was fourteen, my sister became sick in the final days of her third pregnancy. After two days of the shaman’s treatment she showed no signs of getting better. My parents brought a man from the village health post to save her, but he was not a qualified doctor. The people of Bhalche had no access to any sort of professional health care. Both my sister and her baby died as a result of a botched delivery.
At fifteen, I had run out of options to further my education. So I moved to Kathmandu where I worked as a trekking guide and tour sales representative for the next twelve years. My trekking experience allowed me to interact with people from all over the world, exposing me to different cultures and ideas, and enabling me to establish numerous friendships. I learned rudimentary English from conversing with trekkers and reading a Nepali to English textbook. While working in Kathmandu, I made a pledge to myself to establish a foundation to help future generations to overcome economic and educational disadvantages. In the early stages of developing my dream for Nepal FREED, I started bringing much needed school supplies to my village.
The population in Bhalche has grown since I was a student there. Now, hundreds of students scale the mountainside each day, motivated, as I was, by dreams of a better life. I believe that a better life is within reach for these children and I want to help them to grasp it. In January, 2009, my brother Hira and I founded the Nepal Foundation for Rural Economic and Educational Development (Nepal FREED), a key to fulfilling that dream.
I believe that it is our responsibility to reach out to those less fortunate. We are determined to share our blessings with the impoverished people of the world. I invite you to join Nepal FREED and become a part of a worldwide family dedicated to making a difference. Your generosity will go farther than you can possibly imagine, empowering the people of Nepal with the medical resources needed to sustain an improved quality of life and the education required for them to realize and achieve their dreams. On behalf of the Nepalese people and Nepal FREED, I thank you for your support.
-Jay Tamang, Founder