The Santi School Project was inspired by the friendship between two people from starkly different backgrounds. Christopher Heun was wandering throughout Southeast Asia in 2003 when he met Lila Bahadur Tamang on a Kathmandu street.
They traveled together throughout Nepal, including a visit to Lila’s home village, in Ramche, in the mountains near the border with Tibet. The people who live in the village, most of whom are members of the Tamang ethnic minority, farm every inch of arable land in the surrounding hillsides.
When Lila and Chris arrived in Ramche, a gaggle of excited children greeted them. Lila, a former teacher, handed out paper and pens. The photos you see on this page were taken that day.
The village has minimal electricity and running water. The only way to reach the village is to hike for about 90 minutes up the path from the nearest town. The construction of a dirt road began after the school construction was completed.
After he returned from his trip, Chris formed The Santi School Project, choosing the Nepali word for peace. The school in Ramche is the organization’s first. Two Nepali groups with a proven track record of successful education and development programs provided important help: The Society of Ex-Budhanilkantha Students-North America and the Nationwide Scholarship Program (NSP), which teamed up in 2004 to build a library and computer center not far from Ramche with a $167,000 grant from the Development Marketplace 2003 of the World Bank.
Lila organized the local labor force and directed the construction and NSP monitored and supervised the construction process and helped the school management committee register the school with the relevant authorities.
When plans for our first school were made, a civil war was still ravaging Nepal. Therefore, it seemed apt to choose the word ‘Santi’ for our organization; it means peace in Sanskrit and Nepali.