HVP Nepal-UK Newsletter April 2023
Namaste to you all and a warm welcome to the April 2023 HVP Nepal-UK newsletter.
The headline feature of this edition is the report on the recent visit to the UK by the Founding Principal of Hindu Vidyapeeth, Dr Chintamini Yogi, and the success of the HVPN-UK meeting and social that brought his month-long stay to a very positive conclusion. A feeling of spiritual renewal accompanies Head Sir wherever he goes.
Several key people were involved with organising Chintamini's trip - at impressively short notice - and Head Sir came at the invitation of the Nepalese community in the UK, whose report you will find below. But if there was one individual who deserves special praise and thanks it is former HVP student, Mridu Nepali, who somehow managed to be chief events organiser and mother to a young family all at the same time. There was scarcely a moment in the month when he was here that Head Sir was not traversing the length of England, giving lectures, leading Satsang and speaking of Nepal, the HVP schools and promoting Human Values Philosophy. It may have seemed effortless, but none of this would have happened where it not for Mridu's hard work and supreme organisation to make Chintamini's trip the success that it was.
Meeting and Social of HVP Nepal-UK
Dr Chintamini Yogi - Head Sir - opened the meeting at The Church on the Corner, Islington, with a bhajan that prepared us mentally and spiritually for discussion of the three HVP schools in Nepal. He spoke of both the challenges facing the schools, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, but also of the success stories that have emerged and which reminded everyone present as to why HVP is such a force for good in the local communities which it serves. We were joined by former volunteers and early members of HVP-UK, who could trace their involvement with HVP back to the mid-1990s. Among them were Louisa Collyer-Hamlin, Mel Crossley, Ali Beale and Tim Powis, whose new energy and ideas will be very welcome indeed.
Chintamini first addressed the macro challenges facing Nepal and the schools. In the current geo-political climate, Nepal finds itself at the uncomfortable junction between India and China, while also suffering from endemic corruption within its political leadership. As independent schools, HVP Dang, Thali and Balkumari find it difficult to attract new staff when the salary they can afford to pay is 15% less than what teachers in government schools receive, who also enjoy longer holidays and less accountability in terms of academic quality and cultural provision. Across the three schools, which now educate 1200 students between them, Thali's academic outcomes are impressive, and Dang continues a very strong tradition of cultural programmes. Balkumari is most stable in terms of staff turnover and has alumnae working in high profile positions both domestically and globally, including one former student who is now working as a professor at the University of Kathmandu. The new building at Balkumari is now fully functional, the ground-floor classrooms home to the nursery pupils and the upper floors currently rented out to a higher education company, which provides a useful stream of income for the school. The intention is to restore the boarding hostel at Balkumari, which many volunteers remember as the heart of the school community. The priority capital project, Chintamini mentioned, is to grow the physical infrastructure of HVP Thali beyond its current one building with only nine rooms.
Chinatamini spoke of inspiring stories to come out of the Children's Peace Home in Dang. He gave the example of one girl who came from the marginalised Taru community, who on the strength of an HVP scholarship, supported by HVPN-UK, flourished at school and went on to further education on a scholarship to study in Thailand. She has inspired two further girls at CPH to take 12th Grade (Plus 2), which is the equivalent of A Level in Nepal. In a moving story, Chintamini spoke of another girl, who had lost both her parents and suffered terrible abuse from her aunt and uncle, partly because she refused to enter into prostitution. After one particularly violent episode that saw the girl admitted to hospital, a health worker alerted the police, who took prompt action in arresting the aunt and uncle. The girl was taken in by CPH, and two years on is now in the 7th Grade at HVP Dang. Although still suffering from the effects of trauma, she is beginning to trust those around her enough to make healthy relationships.
For reasons such as these, Chintamini reminded us, it is humanity and belief in young people, so much more than simply money, which is at the heart of the partnership between Nepal and the UK.
The meeting then moved to discussion of a core priority, which is the rejuvenation of the volunteer programme that has been on hold since since the beginning of the pandemic. In his visit to Cambridge University, Chintamini had a good meeting with Jo Wilmott, who will be co-ordinating the Cambridge volunteers for Summer 2024. HVPN-UK trustee, Lara Atkin has made progress with getting a volunteer programme up and running through Kent University, and fellow trustee, Matthew Hilton-Dennis, is in the process of relaunching a trip to Nepal for students from Merchant Taylors' School for Summer 2024, which will involve a week's teaching in one of the HVP schools. There was wider discussion on how HVPN-UK might connect with the Nepali community in the UK, including the possibility of supporting young UK Nepalis to volunteer at the three schools and so engage with their cultural inheritance.
Such bright thinking eventually needed some form of physical nourishment, and the meeting naturally transformed into the social element of the day once we had adjourned to local Islington institution, Indian Veg. Here we were delighted to meet Mark Lobel and his young son - Mark was one of the founding members of HVP-UK and for many years ran the newsletter. Chintamini led us in a blessing of the food and in expressing our gratitude for everything that the HVP family holds dear, including the youngest and newest members who one day might become the next generation of volunteers!
The Next Steps
We waved goodbye to Dr Yogi with renewed energy and optimism for the future. We hope that as you read this, you will feel the same. We are looking for people to step forward in in three distinct ways:
The lifeblood of our charity and of our partnership with the three schools in Nepal. We need people who would be willing to volunteer as teachers in the schools and in the process become part of a local community in ways that you could not imagine were you to visit Nepal as only a tourist. Traditionally this has been undergraduates in the summer holiday of either their first or second year of university, but this is an opportunity open to anyone at any stage of life. If you would like more information, drop us a line at email@example.com and we can supply you with a volunteer's pack.
Fundraising and The Scholarship Scheme
A key part of what we do as a charity is to raise money for capital projects for the schools in Nepal. Most recently we gave substantial support towards the building of the new wing of HVP Balkumari that had to be rebuilt following the earthquake in 2015. We rely on our supporters to raise money for these kinds of projects and over the years, there have been many wonderful fundraising initiatives. If you feel inspired to do so, don't hesitate! Drop us a message and you can very easily link a JustGiving page to our own: https://www.justgiving.com/hvpuk
As you will have read above, HVN-UK also gives regular financial support to the poorest students and those most in need, through the Scholarship Scheme. This runs on monthly donations from supporters and really makes the opportunity of an HVP education a possibility for those families and students who would not otherwise be able to meet the very modest fees. For those children in the Children's Peace Home in Dang, the scheme helps to support all their pastoral and wellbeing needs, as well as their education. If you would be interested in making a regular monthly donation, please head to our JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/hvpuk
We are looking to fill some key posts on the committee, including the vital role in charge of Scholarship. Being a part of HVPN-UK gives you valuable experience into the workings of a small charity/NGO if any of you are interested in careers in Development. There is also no better way of re-engaging with or growing your relationship with Nepal and HVP in an incredibly meaningful way. We would love to hear from you, and everyone in Nepal would be delighted to have you on board.
Please do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in any of the above, or contact me on my personal email at email@example.com
Memories of Chintamani Yogi’s UK Trip from the HVP-UK Community
Lara Atkin, Trustee and Co-Treasurer, HVPN-UK
“I was fortunate enough to host Head Sir for two nights. The last time I had seen him was at the Yogi family home in Parsa, Dang in September 2011, so it was a real joy to catch up with him after more than ten years! On Saturday February 25th, we had a powerful reminder of how far the HVP family extends as volunteers from as far back as 1994 joined us in Islington to meet Head Sir and share memories. Chintamani’s visit was an inspiration to all us friends here in the UK, renewing old acquaintances and establishing vital new links with Cambridge and Kent Universities to enable UK volunteers to return to Nepal. Fingers crossed we can make this happen soon."
Matthew Hilton-Dennis, Trustee and Communications, HVPN-UK
"Chintamini visited the school where I teach in North London, Merchant Taylors' School. The main event was a speech given by CM to those students who showed interest in coming out to Nepal in the summer of 2024, for a trip which would involve working in one of the HVP schools for a week as a volunteer teacher. Not only did CM talk to the assembled students and teachers about the origins of HVP, the three schools and the valuable work of the Children's Peace Home, but he brought a slice of Nepal to London. We all know that a talk given by CM is going to be something different, but I don't think any of the (slightly self-conscious) audience had banked on singing and chanting that Friday afternoon.
"The outcome has been immediate: we have 25 students in Years 11-13 (aged 16-18) who have expressed a real interest in the trip, which will give them an immersive experience of Nepali life, and, we hope, instil in them the desire to return and begin a long-term meaningful relationship with HVP. As for CM, as you'll see from the pictures, once a Head Master, always a Head Master!"
A Message from the Nepalese Community in the UK
Chiranjibi Poudel , Reading
Dr. Chintamani Yogi, the founder of Shanti Sewa Ashram and Bishwa Omkar Mahasangh, came for a month-long tour of the United Kingdom, where he set about promoting spirituality, culture, and Sanatan Dharma. His visit was welcomed by various organisations and individuals, including the Nepalese Doctors Association UK, Chetana Yatra, and Pashupatinath Temple Birmingham.
Dr. Yogi delivered speeches at meetings organised by the Nepalese community and educational institutions such as the Hindu Centre at Oxford University and St. James School London, where Sanskrit is a compulsory subject. He emphasised the importance of leading a happy and healthy life, in spite of the pressures of daily work.
"You have the education, you have the prosperity, you have the post and position and material accomplishments, but have you ever thought about yourself?" He said this to the applause of the audience. "When will you understand the limits of life?"
During an interaction programme hosted by the Greater Reading Nepalese Community Association (GRNCA), Dr. Yogi explained the different types of yoga, including Bhakti Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raj Yoga. He said that following the path of Karma Yoga by serving the family, society, and world is a good way to lead a fulfilling life. Dr. Yogi also spoke about the importance of Sanatan Sanskriti or eternal culture and how it promotes the welfare of all humanity, irrespective of religion, culture, or ethnicity.
"We must never forget Sanatan Sanskriti, as it is the only tradition that does not adhere to any particular religious, cultural, or ethnic sect but instead prays for the welfare of the entire human race.
"May all be happy, may all be healthy, may all enjoy prosperity, and may none suffer," he said, adding that he does not follow any sect but teaches the philosophy of our ancient sages, the Vedas.
Dr Yogi said that wherever you live, you should never forget your motherland, as mother and motherland are like heaven. He urged people to provide Sanatan culture education to children so that they can become better citizens of the world with a broader perspective and work towards the welfare of humanity. He also highlighted the work being done under his guidance and initiative in education, care of the elderly and disabled, and marginalised groups, including Musahar in different parts of Nepal, as well as interfaith dialogue and the promotion and preservation of our glorious, rich cultural heritage as a Himalayan nation.
The programme was chaired by GRNCA Chairman Tek Gurung, with former chairman of the Hindu Forum of Britain and coordinator of the Chetana Yatra Major (retd.) Surya Upadhyaya and vice chairman of the GRNCA Yadav Shrestha also speaking about the importance of spirituality in society. The event was organised at the initiative of Mani Subedi of the GRNCA with the assistance of Laxman Shrestha, Sita Chauhan, Bhimsen Khadka, and the GRNCA team.
Chintamani Yogi’s UK visit: Bhagirath Yogi
In February 2023, spiritual teacher and Guru Dr Chintamani Nath Yogi visited the United Kingdom with the view of spreading the message of love, peace and harmony from the land of Gautam Budhda, Guru Gorakhnath and other Saints. During his visit, Dr Yogi delivered lectures at leading universities, opened language classes and held ‘Satsang’ with Nepali communities across the UK as part of a ‘Chetana Yatra', a journey to spread awareness.
.Addressing a talk programme organised at the World Hindu Temple at Southall, London, by the Religion Department of the Non Resident Nepali Association UK, Dr Yogi called upon all parents to provide good ‘Sanskar’ (behaviour) to their children. He said the property or money you have earned will be valueless if your children take up bad habits. Speaking on the theme ‘Our Culture, Religion and Identity Abroad,’ Dr Yogi called upon all to celebrate their festivals with much enthusiasm.
“Let us bring all good things in our culture into our homes. Turn your house into a temple."
At the Siddhashram Shakti Centre in Harrow, Dr Yogi called upon all to self-examine and try to find their way themselves. He urged all to respect all sentient beings and live in harmony with nature. President of NRNA International Coordination Council, Mr Kul Acharya, said that Dr Yogi’s visit to the UK played an instrumental role in uniting the Nepali diaspora.
“Dr Yogi is an inspiring personality. His life is his message. We were fortunate to have him among us.”