Poole Fellows Serve Nepal
Before self, put others
Ben Johnson (left) '12 and Everett Brownstein '12 with the children of Gangkharka.
Taft seniors Ben Johnson and Everett Brownstein carried the Taft motto to Nepal this summer for their work with a group whose mission is based on a remarkably similar principle: Before self, put others.
Ben and Everett spent one month living and working in the mountains of northern Nepal. Both were awarded Poole Fellowships to help fund their work with the Helambu Project.
Established in 2008, the Helambu Project works to improve the quality of life in the remote Helambu region by increasing access to education and healthcare and creating opportunities for economic development. One of the Project’s first initiatives was the construction of the Pasang Memorial Community Boarding School (PMCBS) in the remote village of Gangkharka. Ben and Everett both volunteered at PMCBS.
“We lived with a host family in the village,” Ben explained.” During the day, we worked at the school teaching English and Science. The kids we saw ranged in age from 5 to 16.”
The Helambu region of the Nepali Himalayas is culturally rich and ethnically diverse. Its mountains are dotted with monasteries, and the meditative properties of its remote caves have attracted Buddhist lamas for centuries. It is also a popular destination for trekking and tourism. Still, the area lacks infrastructure, and its residents have limited access to healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. Volunteers like Ben and Everett are helping to bridge those gaps.
“We had an amazing experience,” Ben concluded. “The kids were so happy that we were there to teach them; it was clear that we were making a difference.”
Established in memory of Robert Keyes Poole, Taft master from 1956 to 1962, Robert Keyes Poole Fellowships are awarded annually, and enable Taft students to engage in travel or in a project consistent with Mr. Poole’s lifetime interest in wildlife and the environment. Thirteen Poole Fellowships were awarded for the summer of 2011.