December 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Nepal is a geographically and culturally diverse country located between India and China. The mountainous northern section of the country includes eight of the world’s ten highest mountains including Mt. Everest. The United Nations classifies Nepal as one of the least developed countries in the world, stemming from its landlocked geography, rugged terrain, lack of natural resources, and poor infrastructure. Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world and about a third of its population lives below the poverty line.

In response to this extreme need, READ Nepal was established in 1991. That year, eight porters carried 900 books and a card catalog over 11,800-foot Lamajura Pass down into the tiny village of Junbesi. These villagers had never even seen 900 books before! This first READ project laid the foundation for a rural network of 45 READ Community Library and Resource Centers (to date) that are located across the entire country.

During READ’s growth, a Maoist revolution shook Nepal for 13 years, paralyzed the economy and killed thousands of people. Many large foreign aid organizations suspended operations during this period of civil unrest. READ, however, thrived in both Maoist and non-Maoist rural villages due to its apolitical and grassroots-based model. Its success during this turbulent time shows just how strong the READ model is.

In 2006, READ Nepal won the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Access to Learning Award. This prestigious and competitive award included $1M to further expand READ’s sustainable rural development model and to extend its capacity to provide information technology throughout remote regions of Nepal. When rural villagers heard about this award, they celebrated in their Centers as if they had won it themselves, and in large part, they had


Entry filed under: Social.

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