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Economic development in Nepal featured

Philanthropist Jim Nowak will present his work aiding villagers in Nepal with their own improvement projects at the Jim Santy Auditorium Monday at 7 p.m.

Nowak is a mountain climber who, like many before him, committed funds and manpower to helping villages in Nepal after climbing the Himalayas changed his life.

Most of the 40,000 people who visit the world’s highest mountain range annually only see Katmandu and the mountains. As a consequence, those inspired to perform charity do so in those areas.

Nowak realized the practice was neglecting the majority of Nepal’s citizens. He founded dZi to serve other parts of Nepal in the south and east.

The elevation is lower in those places and is more forested or even subtropical, he said Friday. The people of Nepal are some of the poorest in the world surviving on about $230 per year.

In the areas targeted by dZi, people live on $27 per year.

The employees and clients of Marmot the equipment retailer that runs a concept store at 540 Main Street are among the people who climb the Himalayan mountains, said company spokesman Jordan Campbell.

The company committed some years ago to make dZi its primary philanthropic charity. Marmot is the sponsor for Monday’s presentation featuring photography and short videos of villagers explaining their projects to improve life in their area.

Nowak will not be asking for donations at the free event. He said that experience has proven if you twist an arm for a handout it comes once. If you inspire people with your work and convert them to the cause, they support you for a lifetime.

"We feel our work is so compelling we think it will resonate with people," he said. "We get the information out there and let people connect with it."

Many groups build things for impoverished villages. That’s not what dZi does. When something is built for them, their needs may change or it may break rendering it useless. Nowak said dZi meets with villagers to determine what would improve their health or economy. The villagers come up with their own projects and dZi helps bring them to fruition. The improvements are their own built by them and maintained by them.

Most villagers are subsistent farmers, he said. The long-term goal is to help them grow herbs, spices or medicinal plants for export.

The current target area of dZi is inhabited by 18,000, he said.

"These people are resourceful and fun. They just don’t have opportunity to raise themselves up," he said. "Nobody goes there; it’s really a forgotten corner of Nepal."

Marmot will host a raffle for a $500 shopping spree at their store on Main to attendees.

What: Marmot on Main hosts the dZi Foundation

Where: 1255 Park Ave.

When: Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.

Why: Presentation on economic development in Nepal


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