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Navin Thapa

Navin Thapa came from Nepal to Pestalozzi in 1980, later attending St. George's Hospital Medical School and completing a PhD from University College London Medical School in 1999. During his past fifteen years in Nepal, Navin has helped to establish Kathmandu University Medical School (KUMS) and he is now working as Director of the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN).

Nepalese children with the Duke of Gloucester at Leeds CastleI am proud to have this photo of myself with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester at Leeds Castle back in 1981, soon after I came to Pestalozzi. I was one of the children to tell the patron we would return to build our country. Pestalozzi was a place where we could think about problems and solutions globally and apply them to our own local contexts.

I returned to Nepal in 2000. As Head of KUMS International Program, I was responsible for organizing support of over 50 doctors and scientists from the UK, USA, Europe and Australia to teach biomedical sciences, as Nepal did not have such local expertise. After a decade in KUMS, I wanted to work directly in rural areas to improve the public health situation in Nepal. I joined FPAN, a Member Association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the largest NGO in Nepal devoted to health and women's empowerment.

As the Resource Mobilization Director of FPAN, I have contributed to design and develop proposals and programs for implementations in 42 districts of Nepal. Every year, we provide family planning services to about 210,000 people, STI and HIV counseling, diagnosis and treatment services to about 100,000 people and safe abortion counseling and services to more than 50,000 women. I was also invited on deputation by the National Planning Commission (NPC) during the last 3 years to contribute to the national development plan as well as to develop concept papers for expanding health care to the poorest and marginalized people living in rural areas, prioritizing family planning for national development and programs to deal with uterine prolapse.

My experiences of KUMS and FPAN have convinced me that in a developing country like Nepal, academic institutions and NGOs have to combine their efforts. They cannot stand apart from the community around us, which is swelling with poverty. The Pestalozzi ethos of head, heart and hands can be a framework for individual, social and national development as well as international cooperation. We are planning to set up a new international academy to combat global poverty with these aims.

Navin with UK APPG in a health clinic, NepalMy most memorable moments in my last 15 years in Nepal have been to take Sir Richard, Lady Butler and more recently, the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, including Baroness Jenny Tonge, Heather Wheeler MP and David Morris MP to visit remote health locations in Nepal. They responded by meeting with the Right Honourable Speaker of our Constituent Assembly, to assure that UK/DFID aid will actually increase for the health sector. As promised, DFID has recently announced GBP 8.5 million to Nepal for family planning.

I had wonderful, exceptional moments at Pestalozzi and in UK, which I carry with me every day and often every moment.

Navin as a teenagerI was inspired in my faith from Mrs. Bertin, Mr. Cernik, Father Alan Fudge and Dr. John Geater. I learnt Latin from Mrs. Amies who gave up her lunch times to teach me, Ruth, Deborah and Kim. Cathy and Carol took care of me like my guardians. I learnt about International Affairs from Mr. Thompson and Mr. Court, helping me to chair International Medical Students Association and Amnesty International Medical Group at University. I discovered about Communist revolutions from Mr. and Mrs. Ballard so that I would return to Nepal and form Fabian Group with parliamentarians from all parties including Maoists. "World Affairs" magazine sponsored by Bexhill College, with help from Mr. Beckett and Mr. Poulson, took me to G8 Summit in 1991 including interviews with Gorbachev, PM John Major, Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, Roy Jenkins MP, Shirley Williams MP,  Norman Tebbit MP, Roy Hattersley MP, and Bill Rogers MP.

With help from Professor George Griffin, Professor Sir Anthony Coates, Professor Roger Horton and Professor Frank Hay, Professor Alan Johnstone, I got the top marks at SGHMS in their subjects: General Pathology, Immunology, Haematolgoy, Bacteriology, Virology and Histopathology. With support of Professor John Foreman, Dean of Students; Professor John Stanford and Dr. Helen Donoghue, I became Vice-Warden of Astor College, UCL, the only overseas student so far to look after over 300 students.

All this has been possible because of Pestalozzi, the Patronage of The Duke of Gloucester, President Lord Sainsbury, Sir Richard Butler and sponsors like Svante Pahlson-Moller, who sponsored my education

I owe enormous debt to those generous people who supported me beyond their normal call of duty because they wanted to help Pestalozzi and our international dreams for a better and fairer world.

For more success stories from Pestalozzi Alumni, click here.

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