Where We Work
Simpani, is a collection of small villages and lies on the southern slope of the Lamjung Himalayas ranges at a height of about 1400 meters above sea level. The climate is cold in winter and hot in summer. Simpani is located 130 kilometers from Pokhara. The majority of the journey can be made by vehicle over the existing gravel road; however the final stretch is impassable and requires a walk of over an hour. During the rainy season much of the gravel road becomes impassable due to floods and landslides.
There are approximately1,135 people in the village. 22% are leather workers and metal workers but ssubsistence agriculture is the main occupation within the village. The vast majority of villagers own the agricultural land on which they work. Paddy, millet, maize wheat are the main crops cultivated in this village. Unfortunately, due to low fertility, and a lack of irrigation, 68% of households do not produce sufficient food for their families. Almost all households raise domestic animals for manure, wool (sheep and goat), dairy products and meat.
Home and Family
The architecture and materials used in building houses in Simpani, are similar to that found in throughout the mountain belt in Nepal. However, unlike other villages, Simpani has a significant portion of houses with tin roofs and houses built of cement and iron rods. Most of the houses are two stories high with a separate kitchen. The top floor is used for storing crops, and seasonal agricultural equipment. The ground floor is used mainly for cooking and sleeping. The majority of houses have a toilet. There is an irregular and insufficient supply of drinking water to Simpani. The villagers are dependent on a pipe which conducts drinking water 4.7 kilometers from source to the village. Unlike most of the other villages Simpani is connected to the national electricity provider. Electricity is used for lighting and occasionally cooking, though the majority of households still rely on firewood for cooking and heating. The average age for marriage is 16-18, with the birth of the first child one or two years after marriage. The dowry system is not compulsory, but it is prevalent, primarily due to social and economic competition between village households/communities. The average life expectancy within the village is estimated at 62 years for both men and women.
Education within the Village
The area around Simpani has seven pre-primary schools, six primary schools, one lower secondary and one secondary school. As a result, only 20.70% of the area’s population are illiterate, compared to the national figure of 56%. In 2004, Thomas’s Kindergartens funded the building of a small primary school with four class rooms and educating up to 200 children.
During 2007-8, the village community asked to convert one of the classrooms into a nursery class and to extend the existing school. The extension incorporated a small office and kitchen for the staff to use. Thomas’s Kindergartens are also funding a teacher’s salary of £250 a year, for the next five years.