Immediately they became great friends, spent a few weeks hiking the Annapurna Circuit and their dream was born. After returning from their adventure in the mountains Rajesh and Nicole decided to join forces and make their joint vision and dream of improving the lives of Nepalese children and villagers come true. They believed then, as they do today, that improved lifestyles start with the opportunity of education. Rajesh was orphaned as a young child and faced many hardships growing up. He was never given the opportunity to attend school or participate in the developmental activities that children do, as he had to work just to survive. (Through knowing his story Nicole got inspired to find a way to support his vision) Upon their spiritual journey across the Himalayas they decided that they would build an Early Childhood Development Center in a village with the hopes of enhancing the opportunity of education to all children and village members from all castes and backgrounds. After much planning and work, together they made their dream “Sapana” come true. After Nicole’s visit to Nepal in 2006, she decided to invest her time and energy into following her dreams, which was to help those less fortunate and to experience a life that was so different than the one she had lived. In 2009, Nicole returned to Nepal to stay for an entire year to start developing the details and plans for the organization, hire staff members and assist in getting the Early Childhood Center (ECD) started. With a background in Early Childhood Development, a deep respect and love for youngsters, their curiosity and basic kindness, Nicole was fascinated by the women and children and the culture of village life in Nepal.
Sapana Nepal Projects is located in the small village of Pumdi, just outside the city of Pokhara, in the central hills of Nepal. Pumdi is a village that consists of over 50 households and is made up of multiple castes.
When Rajesh was just five years old, he lost his parents in a tragic landslide. Without anyone to care for him, he became an orphan. A family took him in, but as a slave boy. He slept outside with the buffalo and was not allowed to go to school like the other children.
Rajesh dedicates his life to his family (wife Januka, Son Raj 14, and Daughter Rosanna 10, and elder adopted daughter Dipsa 18) and to Sapana Nepal Projects. His main focus is to plan, organize, lead and control all of our projects, to oversee operations and to maintain excellent relationships with villagers, parents, neighbors and politicians, meanwhile creating harmony amongst all. Rajesh was a born leader and natural social butterfly, always around to offer help to those in need, whether a neighbor in the hospital, a child in trouble at school, a mediator between husband and wife or a death in the family, Rajesh is the man everyone can count on! We are so fortunate to have him as our dedicated leader, compassionate friend and loving father; a man who goes above and beyond to make sure everyone is happy and projects are operating smoothly. Both Rajesh and Nicole are fully aware of the enormous amount of effort and trust needed to keep Sapana Nepal Projects running smoothly, they depend on each other and make time each week to review and collaborate on current issues and future growth.
Nicole was inspired by two very influential aspects of her life; experiences with children and Buddhism. In 2006, she traveled to India and Nepal to work as a volunteer. During that solo adventure she reconnected with her inner wisdom and she decided Nepal was soon to be her second home. Nicole met Rajesh upon arrival in Nepal and they decided to join forces in efforts to create Sapana Nepal Projects. She spent the last ten years working as a Stewardess/Cook aboard private motor yachts, building the nonprofit organization, traveling to Nepal and enjoying life with her husband, Gary and his son Lucas. She recently left the yachting industry to pursue a more meaningful path, one of which that led to a strong desire to preserve the Dharma within her community. She currently works at Thubten Kunga Ling (Buddhist Center in Deerfield Beach) as the Director and is focusing on creating a more sustainable future for SNP. In November 2017, Nicole and Gary traveled to Nepal and got married, Nepali style.
Jagan has been SNPs friend and mentor since the very beginning, going back to 2006. He serves as secretary on the board of our NGO in Nepal. Jagan is always there for us and he helps us make big decisions. Jagan is from the remote village of Kutumsa, where we also have some projects and the yearly sponsorship project we partner with Tracy. Jagan resides in Lakeside with his wife, two daughters and son. We appreciate his wealth of knowledge and wisdom and we truly value his opinions.
As Sapana Nepal Project Early Childhood Development was in the development stages back in 2008, Laxmi was invited to join our team and become Head Teacher. She is very smart and kind to all of the children; she treats them as if they were her own. We have had wonderful opportunities for teacher trainings and field trips and she has thoughtfully enjoyed each activity as well as excelled in the trainings. I personally consider and call Laxmi, Guru Amaa, (respected mother and teacher) because I know her continuous efforts and growth over the years has a tremendous impact on SNP and our success. Her lovely daughter Salina is ten years old and is the light of her life. Her position at our center empowers Laxmi and allows her to live a more fulfilling life. We are honored to have her as a part of our team since day one.
This wonderful young woman joined our ECD center many years ago, but had to leave shortly after due to her pregnancy. Luckily the position opened up again and she agreed to come back. Babinna graduated top of her class and offers children a more “hands on” learning experience. She loves to be creative and join in with children when having fun. Babinna lives a few villages away and travels over three hours everyday by foot up and over the hillside and back to get to work at our school six days a week. We are very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to have such a special teacher dedicate so much of her time and energy to our center and children.
Sapana Nepal started with the idea of building a preschool for children that would otherwise have limited care or supervision during the day. Most families living in rural villages (especially lower caste and poor families) have a difficult time managing the household and the ability to provide basic needs for their family. In Nepalese culture, the mothers or female daughters are always the ones responsible for the care of babies/toddlers. Usually there would be three different options for children ages from birth until five years old:
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