Reminiscences from Nepal January 2021

Richard Backwell from the Okhle Village Trust looks back and summarizes what has been achieved in Nepal over the last 19 years

An Update On All Water Projects Completed In Okhle And

Surrounding Villages Between 2003 And 2020


Project                                      Dates                            Cost                  Donors

1 Okhle                                      2003 to 2004               £3500               OVT
2 Rbaje                                      2005 to 2007               £1500              OVT
3 Bayapani Health Centre       2008 to 2009               £600                OVT
4 Raipali {Phase1}                    2008 to 2012               £6000               OVT
5 Kot Guan                                2010 to 2012               £6000              OVT Melcombe Regis RC

6 Kot Guan Community

  Centre Water Tank                2012                              £1200               Alison Brind

7 Ashari                                     2012 to 2013                £1500               OVT

8 Ashari Primary School          2012 to 2013               £600                 OVT

9 Gahateri                                 2012 to 2013                £2000              Casterbridge Rotary

10 Madkina                               2013 to 2014              £1200              Portland Rotary & Angela

                                                                                                                    & Richard White

11 Bharkola                              2013 to 2014                £1400               OVT

12 Ghaleguan                            2014                             £1500               Susie Cockburn

13 Raile                                     2013 to 2014               £4500              Portland & Casterbridge

14 Bayapani School                 2013 to 2014                £1200  Wey Valley School

15 Lower Bayapani                  2013 to 2014                £5000              Dan Nord & OVT

16 Tutepani                               2013 to2014               £4500              Portland &Casterbridge

17 Raipali (Phase2)                  2013 to 2014               £2000              Wey Valley School & OVT

18 Baspani                                2013 to 2014               £5000              Portland, Casterbridge Poundbury

19 Pathani                                  2015 to 2016              £1500              Wey Valley School &OVT

20 Yangsing                              2016 to 2017               £6500              Portland, Casterbridge,

                                                                                                                    Bridport & Poundbury & Dan Nord

21 Payswara                             2016 to 2017               £2200              Portland, Casterbridge Poundbury OVT                              

22 Payswara                             2017 to 2018               £5500              Portland, Casterbridge Poundbury                                                                          

23 Dungeni                               2017 to 2018               £3100              Portland, Casterbridge & Poundbury

24 Pokharichap                       2017 to 2018               £2750              Portland, Casterbridge & Poundbury

25 Gahateri School                 2017 to 2018               £1500              Wey Valley School & OVT

26 Gairiswara                           2018 to 2019               £7000              PTLD,Casterbridge Wareham Poundbury

27 Aru Bott                               2018 to 2020               £6200              Portland, Casterbridge Poundbury OVT                              

28 Gorkhalichap                      2019 to 2020               £8000              Portland, Casterbridge  Poundbury OVT                                


Ongoing Projects


Two further projects are underway:

1 Raipali Banyang a small village situated on the col between Okhle and Gahateri. Cost £2800

2 Samjur. The new tank will provide water not only to the village but also to the school. Cliff and Joyce Elliott have kindly donated the funds required for building a new toilet at the school. Total cost of project: £3300

Both these projects, the monies having been allocated, should be completed by early 2021 and Bimal is now looking to carry out further work on the 2 projects at Madkina and Gahateri.

The completed Water projects comprise 18 Gravity Feed Operations, 3 Water Harvesting Schemes and 7 further projects where electric pumps were installed to pump water uphill.


Other projects

The supply of water has always been our top priority but in addition monies have been allocated to the following programs:


Project                                                   Cost                  Donors

Kot Guan Community Centre              £5000               Ramboll Engineering

Gahateri Community Centre               £5000              OVT Donation of £1000

Village Mothers Committees              £6000               OVT

Toilets in Okhle                                      £800                 OVT

Toilets in Raipali                                    £350                 OVT

Toilets in Tutepani                                £350                 OVT

Help to Okhle Primary School             £2000               OVT

Help to Ghaleguan School                  £1000               OVT

Help to Bayapani School                      £1500              OVT and Wey Valley

Help to Saraswoti School                     £1200               OVT and Carina’s Family

Earthquake Disaster 2015                   £24500             OVT and Rotary Clubs


What must not be forgotten is the Goody Bags going out each year and the wonderful contributions made by so many individuals and organisations.


1          2 Microscopes donated by Irene Robinson for Bayapani and Saraswoti Secondary Schools

2          From Wey Valley – School Stationary, Footballs, Sports kits, Clothes.

3          Muriel and her friends in Verwood- Knitted Hats, Jumpers and cardigans, Flip flops, shoes toys.

4          Jean Sexton – Knitted Hats, Jumpers and Cardigans.

5          Carina’s Family- Footballs Sports Kits’ Stationary, Paints &Brushes

6          Munstys – Pencil Cases with Stationary for Gahateri & Samjur Primary and Pre Schools

7          Ruth Davies- Stationary Package for every child at Okhle PS

8          Jan Hemingway’ s Sewing Materials which led to 16 Singer Sewing Machines being taken out to the villages.

Many other useful items have been donated by generous individuals which includes Clothing, Sewing Materials, First Aid Kits, Spectacles, Soaps and Cosmetics, Sports Equipment.


Where the funds for projects have come from


1          Weymouth College Greenhill Centre- Raised money through sponsored walks to pay for teachers salaries at Okhle and Ghaleguan Primary Schools.

2          Angela and Richard White- Held 3 Coffee Mornings which accounted for half the funding required for the Madkina project.

3          Sandra Jones together with She Taylor has held regular Fashion Shows. Sandra also organised the most successful WI trip to Nepal.

4          Wey Valley School have either totally or partially funded 4 Water projects at Pathani, Bayapani School, Raipali and Gahateri School and also funded the canopy built at Samjur School.

5          St Augustine’s Church Stella Maris Group- They have contributed annually to so many of the completed Water projects and the Earthquake Disaster Fund.

6          I am indebted to Wessex Water & Sutton Poyntz villagers for:

                        a) Water Day in 2011 to help fund the Raipali project

                        b) Generous Donations from the Village Victorian Street Fayre

c) The Soup Kitchen held in the museum at the time of the earthquake of 2015 raising over £4000 in one day

d) Barrie’s Film evening in the Mission Hall which raised funds required for the Samjur Water Project

7          Pat Haine and Paul Nicholson’s contribution from their Spring plant Sales held annually in the Scout Hall.

8          Chris Osborne and the Dorchester family Church. Their generous donations have contributed to the more recent water projects.

9          Munstys Group. Coffee mornings and Sponsored Walks along the seafront. Also, with Kim Sanderson’s help, pencil cases with enclosed stationary were made by the ladies group and distributed to Samjur and Gahateri Schools.

10        .Portland, Casterbridge, Poundbury, Melcombe Regis and Bridport Rotary Groups. The Rotary groups have partially or totally funded 14 of the 28 Water Projects so far completed.

11        Innumerable WIs, Probus, Church and Retirement Groups. They have listened to my boring presentations with much stoicism and patience before donating most generously to the Trust.

12        Carina and her family. I owe so much to them for looking after me and helping so enthusiastically with the work we did together with the villagers.

13        My nephew Paul. As well as trekking with me to Annapurna Base

            Camp in 2016, he has since made generous donations to many of the more recent Water Projects.

14        Renee Wilkinson. Renee circulated many of the Lions Clubs throughout the UK with details of the trust raising over £1200.

15.       The Walkers group. They have supported me with so many fund-raising Activities such as Pimms in the Garden at the village Street Fayre and the Fund Raising following the earthquake. Many of the group have also been with me in Nepal.

16        So many individuals and families whose generosity has made such a valuable contribution to the work in Nepal. With no administrative costs every penny given would have gone to the ongoing projects.




Reminiscences from the last 18 years


1          Mark and I meeting Bimal near the Kathmandu Guest House for the first time in 2002. What would it lead to?

2          With Clive in Lloyds Bank in Weymouth trying to transfer the £3500 required by Bimal for the very first Water Project at Okhle. Fortunately, Clive kept a cool head.

3          My speech at Ghaleguan being interrupted by Jo Wright who had discovered she was being attacked by leeches.

4          Inadvertently locking wife Judy and Judith in their bedroom in the Chitwan game park. I did not notice their absence until midway through the Soup Course.

5          John Bower leading the dancing with local villagers when the bus broke down between Dumre and Okhle.

6          The best Momos in the world with Richard White on the ABC trek to the worst Dhal Baht in the world with Mark at Pulimaran.

7          John Liles collapsing on the descent from Annapurna Base camp but fortunately making a swift recovery.

8          Brian Willet hitching a lift on the back of a tractor on the Jomson trek with Jane and Fi travelling in even more comfort riding mules on the toughest day.

9          What a day. Trekking a route in the Langtang in one day with Mark which the Guidebook suggested should take 2.5 days.

10.       Trips with the Family. Time spent in Nepal with wife Judith, Daughters, Jo, Kathryn and Sally, Son in Law Phil and grandchildren Barney and Ellie with partner James will always be cherished memories.

11        Testing 2 electric pumps in the pond of Aidan’s parents home in 2010. There are now 7 completed Water projects using similar pumps.

12.       The tremendous contribution made by Aidan and Nick Lyness {sadly no longer with us). They showed the villagers that water could flow uphill.

13        Cutting the ribbon at the Opening ceremony of the Kot Guan project. After my Speech, the President of the Mothers Committee poured a full ewer of water over my head.

14.       The Ascent of Island peak. At Base Camp, Mark, Howard and I waking up, unable to breathe, to discover that the tent inner was completely frozen. Bitterly cold but we all made the summit.

15.       A 2000 metre ascent from Tatopani arriving at Ghorepani in the dark. A heroic effort from Louise who had been sick the night before.

16.       With Bern, Dick, daughter Sally and Susy on the roof of the bus travelling from Tatopani to Beni. I have never seen Bern laugh so much.

17        Daughter Jo and her friend Susie riding all the way on the roof of the bus from Dumre to Okhle. Irresponsible father. This could lead to a messy divorce.

18.       Judith and Ann Johnson showing the village ladies how to use the Sewing Machines.

19.       The 3 weeks spent with Carina and family, together with Wey Valley School, digging trenches, building walls and painting classrooms. Hard work but terrific company and a chance to bond with the villagers.

20.       A festive evening at Raipali after a hard day’s work with Carina, Aidan, Mono and Babu. Much Raksi. However, did we make it back to the Campsite?

21        Attending Mahesh’s wedding in Ghaleguan with Carina and family. By tradition, Manesh had to carry his bride all the way from her home in Gahateri to Ghaleguan. However, 2 Raksi stops on route made it all seem quite easy.

22        Digging Firepits with Carina at Ashari School to burn all their rubbish.

23        Dashing down with Carina, Jess and Leo to Saraswoti school to complete Jess’s mural before departure to Kathmandu. The mural can be seen on the website.

24        Photo of Bimal and myself on the summit of Lobuche with Everest immediately behind us.

25        The 19-hour day summiting Lobuche before descending to Base Camp and continuing down the valley to a lodge. The oldest and weakest in the group, I was so well looked after by Bimal and Santa, and also by Steve, Des and Dan, Tim and Helen.

26.       Carina and Amesh, the English teacher, discussing Shakespeare and Jane Austin while painting classroom walls at Saraswoti School.

27        In 2011, Hayley and Jess from Ramboll Engineering planning the location and design of the Community centre to be built at Kot Guan.

28.       In 2013, Kathryn my daughter, becoming the first Western lady ever to visit the Hindu Shrine at Raile.

29        Watching Barrie’s films. A tremendous contribution to Fund Raising events.

30.       Visiting for the first time the memorial stones to Susie Cockburn in GhaleGaun and Nick Lyness in Raipali.

31        Visiting the Memorial site in the Langtang where more than 200 people of different nationalities, lost their lives in the 2015 earthquake.

32        Howard and I riding pillion behind Robin and Gopal on their motorbikes while visiting projects. Did my Saga insurance cover me for this?

33        The 2014 WI trip. Howard and I thought we were in charge only to discover very quickly that we were not.

34.       Jane Notting May, after a rather large gin and tonic deciding to walk through a hole in the pavement in Pokhara rather than round it.

35        With Tim and Helen on the summit of Gokyo Ri. My best Himalayan view

36        Tom and Helen leading the group in playing a Nepalese version of UNO on the ABC trek with Gopal and porters joining in. Hilarious.

37        Evenings spent in the villages. Whether camping at Okhle or Raipali or sleeping in houses at Ghaleguan, Gahateri, Baspani, Payswara and Tutepani, we were so well looked after. Dancing and entertainment in the evenings and after a long nights sleep, the early morning cup of tea.

38        Arriving at our Campsite in Raipali to discover that one of our Goody Bags contained 2 operating Microscopes. It clearly was not ours. We had picked up another Charity’s luggage. Fortunately, miracle man Bimal was able to return the bag to the rightful owners in Kathmandu in just 2 days.

39        In the Langtang, a wild, galloping horse threw its bareback rider and Dr Mark was called in to apply stitches above his eyes. Mark also suspected a broken bone in his hand.

40        After climbing Kala Patar, we were descending to Periche when we met up with a young porter clearly in distress. It transpired that he had carried his load as far as Lobuche before suffering from altitude sickness. He had been dismissed and was now walking back to his home in Lukla, a 3 day hike, with no food or money. We gave him some Mars Bars and 2500 rupees and Mark took him to the Field hospital in Pheriche. Sadly, porters are not always treated as they should be.



The Effects of The Coronavirus


There has of course been no trip out to Nepal this year but Bimal through telephone and Zoom has kept us up to date with how work is progressing on the projects. The occasional lockdown in Dumre has resulted in supplies of sand, cement and other building materials not getting through to the villages so progress has been slower than usual but is still ongoing.

 Because of the Coronavirus many of the men in the poorer households were unable to find work so Bimal asked us to send out money so that food could be distributed to these families. Working in conjunction with the Rotary groups, Mark sent out money to cover this and in May and June the following villages Arbaje, Okhle, Bayapani, Ghaleguan and Kot Guan received their much needed supplies. There were 77 houses in total and each household received 20kgs of rice,1 litre of cooking oil, 2 Kgs of lentils, salt and soap. Bimal expects more problems with food shortages in the future so more money is likely to be sent out in the New year. The good news is that there has only been one case of Coronavirus in the villages and the person in question was quickly isolated.



The Role of Bimal Gurung


What can I say about this man? He can be maddening and infuriating and over the years has cost Mark, Richard and myself 1 or 2 grey hairs when either he has not replied to a query or gives an answer you don’t expect. His stock answer, ’Richard, you worry too much’ however rings true as in the end Bimal always delivers. You look at what has been achieved over the last 18 years and he is the man behind it all. None of what has happened would have been achieved without him and what he has done for all the villages surrounding Okhle is quite remarkable. 3 years ago, he was deservedly elected President of his area and this has enabled him to do even more for the villagers who hold him in very high esteem.

       Bimal is also of course a mountain guide and so many of us have enjoyed him leading us on treks or climbing mountains. If there is a problem, he always has a solution and the slowest in a group always know that he has an eye on them and they will be well looked after.

However hard the trek, I always feel relaxed because if there is a problem, Bimal is there to solve it. To me of course Bimal is more than just a Mountain guide or project Manager. He is also a very dear friend and I count myself very lucky to have met him those 18 years ago. Without him life would have been far less exciting and with him it has been one great big adventure


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more Rotarians helping with the beach clean along the Chesil Bank

Rotary circular walk from Owermoigne to Winfrith

more Members of Portland with Jane from Dorchester Poundbury. a 12 mile walk with beautiful weather

Community Award 2018

more Please see poster, and also a list of previous winners. We want as much publicity and nominations as we can get in 2018.

Presidents Night 2018

more Celebrated at the Con Club Janet was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow


more Purple for Polio


more Bingo at Julia's with the help of Margaret Stone. A fun evening with lots of prizes and raised £210 for Foundation

walk from Winterbourne Abbas to Stratton

more On Saturday eleven of us, past and present members of Portland Rotary along with Poundbury and the Okhle Village Trust walked over the hills and through the valleys in beautiful sunshine past snowdrops for an excellent pub lunch. the walk was 8.5 miles

Christmas Collections 2017

more At Tesco

Burns Night 2018

more Celebration Dinner at the Conservative Club

Ian hands a cheque to the Portland Archologists

more It was received by Martin Blundell, who had given a presentation about the Portland Archaeological Society They are in need of a new roof to protect the site at Portland Bill

Last Rotary Walk before Nepal

more Several current and old members of the club were joined by Jane form Poundbury for a walk from Hardy's Monument along the South Dorset Ridgeway

Rotary Foundation funding for multi-club projects

more At Friday's (27th October 2017) Poundbury meeting three clubs received their Foundation grants that support projects in Nepal,

Opening ceremony at Baspani

Baspani NepalWater Project 2016

more Baspani water project completed and Payaswara given the go ahead

Pasadena Roof Orchestra


Bowls Evening

more A meal at Yates followed by 10 pin bowling Stan won!

Visit to D-Day Museum

more A few pictures from Tuesday

Elizabeth Hardy Inducted into the club

more We were delighted last night to welcome Elizabeth to become our newest member of Portland Rotary

Annual Community Award

more Portland Rotary Club's annual award is nominated by members of the public and presented to a deserving individual who has helped the Portland Community.

Burns Night

more Raising money for Rotary Charities

Quiz Night at the Aqua

more Raised £168.00 thanks to everyone who attended and especially Sarah and Jayne for organising. as always an excellent buffet provided by the Aqua

A walk in the Rain around Cerne Abbas and Sydling St Nicholas

more Members of Portland, Casterbridge and Poundbury Clubs along with Richard and Judy from the Okhle Village Trust were walking in preparation for our visit to Nepal for Water Projects in Local Villages

Baspani under construction

more Water Project in Nepal

Friendship Cup

more The cup this year was for Darts and the winning team was Julia & Paul after a hard and closely fought match

Vire Exchange Visit 2017

more And Lin and Ozzie become Honorary Members Here are a few pictures! Click on the Thumbnails

Vire Exchange 2016

more The annual exchange between Vire Rotary and Portland This year it was our turn to go to Vire

Visit to Ethiopia

more Projects in Addis Ababa and Mekelle

Ashrang. Effects of the Earthquake

Ashrang 2015

more Rebuilding in Ashrang after the earthquake

Walking above Abbotsbury

more A couple of pictures from our Saturday Rotary Walk

Villagers benefitting from new tap


more The new water project at Tutepani completed 2015

Handover 2016

more President Mark handed over the reigns to President Elect Dave Ian became President Elect Garry became Vice President Rachel became a Paul Harris Fellow Paul Merry won the Community Award for his charitable work and support for the local community

Kids Out

more Visit to Crealy Park was enjoyed by all the children here are some thank yous

Water Survival Box Visit

more An article by Gillian about our visit

Christmas Party at the Aqua

more Here are a few pictures from Saturday night

42nd Street

more Fantastic trip to London to see 42nd street. £726.00 was raised which is being shared between the Nepal project and Breast cancer care. Many thanks to everyone that supported this event and also for the raffle prizes. Janet

Pirates and Mermaids at Sarah's

more There was no meeting arranged so Sarah stepped in and everyone dressed up for a sea themed evening and fish and chips!

Children's Christmas Party

more At St Georges Centre

Last walk of 2015

more Our sixth walk from Burton Bradstock to Shipton Hill

Community Tea

more An annual event, this year held at the Colliton Club Dorchester. Dorchester Casterbridge along with Portland Rotary clubs. Our side organised by Sheila Sutherland. A successful and enjoyable afternoon for everyone

Santa comes to town

more The Christmas sleigh tours have started on Portland

Hurricane Disaster Appeal

more Members of the club collected at Tesco, courtesy of the management, to provide a ShelterBox to aid victims of the recent hurricanes that have devastated the Carribean

Community Award 2017

more Was presented to Anna Eveleigh

Handover 2017

more Dave handed over the reigns to incoming President Ian, Gary as President Elect and Gillian becomes Vice President

Baby and Toddler group receiving donation of £100

more For equipment pesented by President Ian

Visit to HMS Duncan (Type 45 Destroyer)

more on its stay at Portland

Rotary Foundation Centenary Celebration

more President Dave making a presentation!

Maternal and Child Health Project in Enugu, Nigeria

Visit to Nigeria

more Mark Townsend Visited Enugu on behalf of The Rotary Foundation to see a project on Maternal and Child Health in March 2015

Photo taken this morning at Westcliff on Wednesday baby and toddler group receiving donation of £100 from the Club for equipment.


Welcome back Celia

more We were delighted for President Dave to induct Celia back into the club!

Richard Backwell awarded Paul Harris Fellow

more For outstanding charitable work

Santa Sleigh Tour

more Santa and his Elves tour Portland

Liz Clarke joins Portland Rotary

more We are delighted to welcome Liz as a member of Portland Rotary She was inducted into the club on the 27th September


more President Dave's Diary

Rotary Walk

more Members from Portland and Casterbridge walked up Colmer's Hill and Golden Cap

John Butler District Governor meets Portland President Dave Shaw

District Governor visits Portland

more John Butler visited the club

Court Leet

more An excellent presentation to the club by Andrew Harvey

£500 Donated - Haylands Pre-School

more This money was raised from our 2015 Burn's Night Party, and will go towards providing an outdoor canopy, so that children can enjoy being outside all year round, especially in the windy Portland weather.

Hilda Swinney - Honorary Member

more Hilda was welcomed into the club on our guest night on 16th August 2015

New Vice President and Six new members

more Tuesday 8th September an historic occasion

Diary of life in Neo Chorio

more No 3 - February 2021

Water Projects Nepal 2018 Overview

more Portland, Casterbridge and Poundbury Rotary Clubs with help of RIBI Donations Trust, District 1200 and Okhle Village Trust

Yangsing Water Project 2017

more Nepal water project - Portland Rotary in conjunction with Dorchester Casterbridge, Poundbury and the Okhle Village Trust

Payaswora Nepal Water Project 2017

more Portland, Casterbridge and Poundbury Clubs with help of District Grant

Arubot Nepal Water Project 2018

more Portland, Casterbridge and Poundbury Clubs with help of RIBI Donations Trust and Okhle Village Trust

The Village of Okhle in Nepal

Nepal Water 2013/14

more Project to provide water to villages in Nepal

Gairiswora Nepal Water Project 2018

more Portland, Casterbridge and Poundbury Clubs with help of District Grant and Okhle Village Trust November 2018 - Work virtually completed

Pokharichap Nepal Water Project 2018

more Nepal water project - Portland Rotary in conjunction with Dorchester Casterbridge, Poundbury and the Okhle Village Trust

Payaswora New Nepal Water Project 2018

more Nepal water project - Portland Rotary in conjunction with Dorchester Casterbridge, Poundbury and the Okhle Village Trust and RIBI Donations Trust

Dungeni Nepal Water Project 2018

more Portland, Casterbridge and Poundbury Clubs with help of RIBI Donations Trust and Okhle Village Trust

Raipali Banyang Nepal Water Project 2018

more Portland, Casterbridge and Poundbury Clubs with help of RIBI Donations Trust and Okhle Village Trust

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