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Mahabir Pun

MAHABIR PUN: Making Nangi Part of the Digital World

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.  Through his ingenuity, his desire to help his community and his Greatness of Spirit, 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee MAHABIR PUN was able to connect his small mountain village to the digital world.  
Mahabir Pun explains why he brought wireless internet access to his hometown village of Nangi in the Nepalese mountains as “The main reason we started this networking project is because I needed that, I needed internet in the village.” He laughs. “Until that time I used to come to Pokhara … at least once a month to check my emails and send emails and to come again because there was no internet in the village. I did that for several years…. I was tired of coming down here just to communicate.”
A decade after deciding he no longer wanted to spend half the day traveling to the nearest internet café to read his emails, Pun’s wish has been realized. Nangi is one of the dozen villages linked to a single wireless network enjoying the ability to communicate from a distance. And for his efforts, Pun is this year’s recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.
This is the story of how Mahabir Pun got his wireless network: One day in late 1992, a man in his mid-thirties arrived in the Nepalese village of Nangi. That’s not necessarily unusual; tourists have flocked to Nepal for decades, inspired in part by its connection to the fabled paradise Shangri-La. Still, Nangi isn’t exactly easily accessible: the Himanchal Education Foundation’s website says that from the international airport in the capital city of Kathmandu, it’s seven hours by bus (or a half-hour by plane) into Pokhara City, followed by a five hour car trip to the nearest major town (Beni), and then a nine-hour hike to – finally – reach Nangi. As Pun himself told BBC News in 2001, “If we walk about six or seven hours outward in any direction from our village and ask the people where Nangi is most of [them] will have no idea.”

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