The man

Shamser Thapa is a teacher and principle of a school in the small picturesque village of Gaunshahar, Nepal. The village being the original abode of the Nepali Royal family before it was relocated to Kathmandu.

Shamser was brought up in Gaunshahar, the son of a farming family. Schooled in the local public school, their mornings and evenings were spent assisting the family with chores around the farm, leaving little time for studying. Not much has changed in Gaunsahar in 30 years.

Having graduated from the local high school, Shamser sought higher education but with his father lacking the funds to invest in his son’s education he moved to Kathmandu and took a job in a hotel in Nagarkot as a kitchen porter to enable him to pay for his university degree. Impressing the owner with his English, he was promoted to waiter before finally moving to concierge. Working full time at the hotel proved difficult to fit in the time for study, but with his determination, he managed to secure a degree in English Literature and Population after 3 years.

Graduating Tribhuban University, Shamser continued to save until a time when he was able to move to the West in search of employment opportunities, not unlike the vast majority of men in rural communities in Nepal who struggle to find work. Spending a year and a half in Antwerp working and saving, he realised, in comparison to the West, he missed the close knit community of his hometown; the perfect environment to bring up his family and the perfect place where he could make a difference to the future of the community; something he wasn't afforded in Antwerp.

With ideas for social improvement circling around Shamser’s head, he moved back home. He took a job teaching in a local school in Gaunshahar and was soon made principle. Not resting on his laurels and with the poverty of the village in the forefront of his mind, Shamser continued with small projects borne from the heart. 

Past success

It started with inviting volunteers from all over the world to Gaunshahar enabling them to experience the real Nepali life as well as providing any help to the people of the village. Providing a homestay, with their various skills, volunteers have had a base where they can support children who are behind in their studies with home tuition, teach subjects at Shamser's school as well lending their time to small projects such as building chimneys, assisting villagers with electrical issues and agricultural work. Success of the project has grown year on year and now sees around 60 people coming to volunteer throughout the year with many extending their stays and others returning.

With Shamser only having access to a computer at the age of 26, he thought it an important life skill for children to get ahead in the ever increasing technical age. Following his pleas, previous volunteers have generously donated laptops which has enabled Shamser to open computer classes for the children from the village.

Then came the micro-finance scheme in the village. With some families struggling financially, it has been an important aid to see them through the year. 23 families have borrowed from the scheme with other families putting in surplus money they have. With the ball rolling on a homestay scheme for suitable homes in the village to give them a means to extra income a new, more ambitious project is coming to fruition.  

With, in Shamser’s view, inequality in the education system affecting access to better education for the lower caste and poorer children, his next focus is to resolve this. How? By building a new independent free school in the village. 


Gaunshahar is a small village situated in between Kathmandu and Pokhara, 1,415 metres above sea level. It is closely linked by road to Besishahar (8 km) which is known to Trekkers as the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit. 

Gaunshahar is known for its residency of the Nepalese Royal family some 400 years ago, before it relocated to Kathmandu. On the hill top is a modest, yet well preserved, palace. 

The population of Gaunshahar is around 1,500 people. It's citizens form a primary rural community from different caste, social classes and different natural languages. Life here is traditionally Nepalese, the farmers mainly grow rice and corn and keep cows, buffaloes and goats.