KINOE founded the Lo Kunphen School in Upper Mustang, and has been supporting it for over ten years.
Lo Kunphen is no ordinary school. It is set at over 2000m in the Himalayas in the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang, serving children from the poorest families in this remote area of Nepal. The winters are so cold (with temperatures as low as –30C) that the school moves to the lowland town of Pokhara for three months to enable the 30 or so students to receive a full ten months of schooling each year. The Nepalese authorities have accredited the training programme to enable graduates of the school to work as community health workers – of vital importance to healthcare in this remote region.
Another special feature of Lo Kunphen is its dual education system. For young children it provides the standard Nepali education, but from age 14, it offers the option of a vocational training course in amchi medicine. This is the traditional Tibetan medicine based on the herbs and natural products of Tibet and the Himalayas, which has been practised for thousands of years.
Lo Kunphen provides vocational training as well as schooling. The Nepalese authorities have accredited the training programme to enable graduates to work as community health workers. The Lo Kunphen project also has a manufacturing arm that produces herbal medicines for local use. Through its support of local medicinal herbs, it works with the Himalayan Amchi Association, Annapurna Conservation Area Project and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)
Lo Kunphen’s unique programme – which includes lessons in English, Nepali and Tibetan, as well as teaching about traditional cultural legends, art, dance and amchi medicine – enables its students to gain employment while retaining a pride in their own identity and origins. Graduates have a skill they can practise to earn a living and provide a service, either in the villages of rural Nepal or in its cities.