ALL PICS: SALLY BIERMAN
Leprosy patients from across Nepal come to the clinic at the temple in Kathmandu seeking solace from the stigma associated with the disease. The ashram is a hothouse of Nepali traditions. It runs a farm near Budhanilkantha where an elderly Newari patient, Jiri Bhai, produces organic vegetables. At the workshops in Gaushala, sisters Rekha and Sita draw Maithili-style patterns for carpets woven by women whose leprosy-damaged fingers can still remember skills learned long ago.
While taking a short cut to the airport one day, Gurung noticed a plot of derelict government land in Tilganga, squatted by drug addicts and alcoholics. He convinced the government to let him plant the land with organically grown vegetables, and persuaded the addicts to become gardeners. Today, reformed alcoholic Hari Ram tends the garden with his fellow-workers.
"We are not looking to educate university students," Gro?pietsch says." We need good farmers and good craftspeople."
While plenty of people in the Kathmandu Valley have never heard of Shanti Sewa Griha, it has nevertheless caught the attention of World Challenge 08, a global competition run by BBC World News, Newsweek and Shell, to find small businesses or projects that have shown innovation and enterprise at a grass roots level. Shanti is one of 12 finalists selected by the judges.
Voting for World Challenge 08 will be open to the public from 1 October to 21 November at www.theworldchallenge.co.uk