Why Nepal

The people we help. The Chepang people.

Nepal is the second poorest country in the world. The average income is less than $4 a day. Nepal is located in Southern Asia between China and India. It is a landlocked nation and contains eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga – the world’s tallest and third tallest mountains.

IMG_2088The Chepang people (Chepangs) are a semi-nomadic tribe of Nepal who live in some of the poorest conditions and are often extremely marginalized from mainstream society. They belong to one of the lowest cast of the country and too often are perceived as an ‘untouchable’ community. To date, very little has been done to improve the lives of the Chepang people.

Out of the estimated 52,000 Chepangs in Nepal, few have been allocated permanent housing, and the majority have no access to land or property.

Food insecurity is a chronic problem. Most Chepangs are subsistence farmers and as few land titles are available to them the community faces many economic and development issues. Infant mortality for example is particularly high with Chepang mothers giving birth to an average of seven children to keep their dynasty alive. Lack of readily available clean water contributes significantly to this high instance of infant mortality.

At least 12,500 Chepang people live in the Makawanpur District of which Heatauda is the only municipality. The district is mainly forest (70%) and agricultural land (18%).

Hetauda is situated in a unique geographical structure called doon, which means that it has a geography like a valley. It is surrounded by hills: the Mahabharata range in the north and the Siwalik range in the south. The rivers Rapti, Samari, and Karra run through the city and flow southwest to meet Narayani, one of the bigger and popular rivers in the nation.

It is an hour’s drive from the Nepalese border city of Birguni, which is adjacent to its Indian counterpart, Raxaul. Both the existing highways to the captila city Kathmandu – Tribhuwan Highway and the East-West Highway, aka Mahendra Highway that trails the length of the nation – traverse through this city, hence its current main industry of transportation.