Welcome to our 60th Anniversary Time Line Project!
This site tracks some of the important events in UMN's history. It starts in 1935 with the formation of the Nepal Border Fellowship along the Indian Border, and finishes with a look to what the future might hold. Use the navigation menu above to visit a decade at a time.
So sang Nepali Christians in the border towns of northern India, in their prayer groups and house churches, as they looked with longing towards the hills of their homeland.
So echoed the Christian missionaries, in their hospitals, clinics and schools along the border.
So prayed Christians with a heart for Nepal, all around the world - in America and Ireland, in Europe and the UK and Australia.
And so was born the United Mission to Nepal, out of a bird-watching expedition!
Nepal Evangelistic Band forms in Nautanwa. This later became International Nepal Fellowship.
Dr Bob Fleming from Woodstock School leads the first “bird trip” into Nepal, visiting Butwal, Tansen, Baglung, Tukuche and Pokhara.
Nepal Border Fellowship formed by missionaries working along the Indian border. Together with Nepali Christians, they pray: “O Lord, hear our petition: open the door of salvation for the Gokhalis.”
The Flemings arrive in Kathmandu. The first clinic opens in Bhatgaon on 7 January. Later, clinics are established at Gokarna, Kirtipur, Banepa, Thimi, Sangu and Bungamati.
Opening of the first UMN hospital, in a wing of the Cholera Hospital, Teku, by the Prime Minister, M.P. Koirala.
Elizabeth Franklin, Jermit Rongong and Dhanmaya Khawas start the United Mission Girls’ High School, later Mahendra Bhawan Girls’ School, the first school for girls in Nepal.
Shanta Bhawan Nursing School established. Later the school moves to another Rana Palace across the road, and becomes Lalitpur Nursing Campus.
The second “bird trip” consists of the Flemings and their children, and Dr Carl Freidericks, Betty Ann and their children. They stay in Tansen for 6 weeks, while Drs Bethel Fleming and Carl Freidericks conduct a clinic. Town leaders and the Governor request that the missionaries return and establish a hospital.
Shri K.A. Dikshit, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, writes to give permission for the Tansen hospital and the Kathmandu clinics.
4-5 March, the United Christian Mission to Nepal is formally established in Nagpur, India. Missions from around the world are invited to join. The name is changed to United Mission to Nepal in 1956.
After 70 visits to the government offices in Singha Durbar, Jonathan Lindell receives permission to start an education programme in Gorkha. Primary and night classes are opened in Amp Pipal. Agriculture work starts in 1959.
UMN rents Usha Niketan in Thapathali as its first headquarters in Nepal.
Bob Fleming sends a letter to His Majesty's Government of Nepal, offering to open a hospital at Tansen. No answer is received.
Dr Carl and Betty Ann Friedericks and their children arrive in Tansen, and start a clinic there.
The Kathmandu hospital moves to the old Rana Palace, Shanta Bhawan. Patients are treated in rooms hung with chandeliers and oil paintings of hunting scenes.
A dispensary opens at Amp Pipal. This later becomes Amp Pipal Hospital, run by UMN until 2001, when it was handed over to the community.
The third “bird trip” takes Bob Fleming and his team to far-western Nepal, and then on to Kathmandu, where Dr Bethel visits health facilities. A second letter is written to the Government, offering to set up a hospital in Tansen, and clinics in the Kathmandu Valley.
Eight missions join UCMN. Rev Ernest Oliver is appointed as the first Executive Secretary.
Palpa Community Health Development Project begins, as an outreach from United Mission Hospital Tansen.
Dr Jimmy Dick opens a dispensary at Okhaldhunga. This becomes Okhaldhunga Hospital. The first buildings open in 1964.
Community Health Programme, Gorkha.
Butwal Technical Institute opens, the first technical training using the apprenticeship model in Nepal.
The BPC crew breaks through the rock between the two sections of the main tunnel of the Tinau Hydro Plant, completing the first construction phase. The plant opens in 1973.
A 20-bed hospital opens in Bhaktapur. It merges with the government hospital in 1974.
Dadeldhura Agriculture Project.
Gandaki Boarding School is established at the request of the Citizens’ Committee of Pokhara. It provides many scholarships for poor but gifted students from all over Nepal. The school is now owned by the Government.
Butwal Power Company is established under the leadership of Odd Hoftun and plays a large role in starting the hydropower industry in Nepal. Most of UMN’s shares in BPC are handed over to the Government in the 1990’s.
Okhaldhunga District Rural Development Project.
John Finlay pioneers biogas production from 1975. Gobar Gas tatha Krishi Yantra Bikash is the first biogas company in Nepal.
Butwal Plywood Factory and Forestry Programme begins. BPF plants its own trees, but cannot get permission to cut them when they reach maturity, so the company closes in 2004.
Butwal Engineering Works.
Rural Youth Training Programme, an offshoot from Gandaki Boarding School, is formed to provide practical skills in agriculture and animal husbandry.
A focus on maternal and child health safety is led by Sandrid Ruohoniemi and Dr Noboro Iwamura. Research leads to many useful initiatives, including the development of Sarbottam Pitho, “super-porridge”, to counter malnutrition, by Miriam Krantz.
Training and Scholarship Programme.
Development and Consulting Services, Butwal, is formed to provide research and design expertise. Biogas, hydraulic ram pumps, roofing tiles and apple corers are some of its projects.
Nawalparasi Hills Development Project.
Butwal Wood Industries.
Drug Store, later Medical Supplies Department, Kathmandu, is established in collaboration with INF, to provide supplies for mission hospitals and clincs.
Nepal Orthopedic Appliances Centre.
Himal Hydro is formed with capital raised by UMN. It becomes the leader in hydro power and construction in Nepal.
Development Communications Productions, Kathmandu.
Kathmandu Business School.
Jhimruk Hydro Electric and Rural Electrification Project.
Andhikhola Hydro Power Project.
The Surkhet Project pioneers a new, community empowered approach to development.
Kathmandu International Study Centre
(in collaboration with INF) is established.
Advisory Group on Nepali Women.
Karnali Technical School is built by UMN in Jumla. Appointees provide teaching in Health, Agriculture and Construction.
Rural Development Centre, Pokhara. This separates from UMN in 2004 and becomes NEST.
Mental Health Programme established, to train health post personnel in mental health issues.
Oral Health Programme starts. Among other innovations, the Programme successfully advocates for the availability of fluoridated toothpaste in Nepal.
Non-Formal Education Support Office.
Shanta Bhawan Hospital moves to new premises, and becomes Patan Hospital.
School Partnership Project, Dailekh.
School Partnership Project, Syangya.
Tansen Nursing School.
The Nutrition Programme aims to improve child feeding practices, and is imiplemented in Jajarkot, Rukum Salyan and Dailekh.
JIDCO — Jhimruk Industrial Development Co. forms to provide assistance to communities affected by the Jhimruk Hydro Project.
The Yala Urban Health Programme is established to meet the health needs of the people of Patan.
Mugu Education Project.
Jarjarkot Non-Formal Education Project. This ambitious project eventually covers almost every VDC in the district.
Khimti Hydro Power Plant/Himal Power.
Karnali Community Skill Training Programme, Jumla, established to provide practical placements for KTS students, in development projects in local villages.
Disaster Preparedness Programme.
Nepali Organisations Unit.
TB Programme, Gorkha.
Non-Government Organisations Support Project.
TB-NET Support Programme.
UMN's Sakriya Unit opens, to take up the new challenges of HIV and AIDS. This later becomes an independent Nepali organisation, Sakriya Sewa Samaj.
Community-Based Organisational Development for Empowerment Programme, Achham.
Nepal Resources Management Project, Ramechhap and Dhading. This becomes the Dhading Resource Management Project and the Ramechhap Community Development Project in 1996.
Training and Development Centre.
In 2005, a new Strategic Plan and General Agreement with the Government of Nepal marks a major shift in UMN’s work. After much prayer and consultation, and in line with the requirements of the government, UMN moves from direct implementation of projects to a focus on building the capacity of Nepali organisations.
BPC Hydroconsult forms. UMN provides experienced engineers to mentor Nepali engineers.
Establishment of new “cluster” programme in Dhading.
The Enterprise Support Programme is formed to assist new businesses.
Independent organisations formed from
UMN projects and units — 2003-2005
Centre for Community Development Nepal
Centre for Mental Health Counselling
Community Development Society
Educational Resource Development Centre
Human Development Society of Nepal
Nucleus for Empowerment through Skills Transfer
Nutrition Promotion and Consultancy Services
Resource Identification and Management Society Nepal
Sakriya Sewa Samaj
Sansthagat Bikas Sanjal
Training and Development Centre
Youth in Empowerment Sector Nepal
Establishment of new “cluster” programme in Rupandehi..
Lamjung Community Health Programme (secondments to HDCS, Lamjung).
Establishment of new “cluster” programme in Mugu.
Establishment of new “cluster” programme in Rukum.
Establishment of new “cluster” programme in Bajhang.
Establishment of new “cluster” programme in Sunsari.
Internship Programme begins, to develop the skills of young Nepali Christians.
Establishment of new “cluster” programme in Doti.
In 2010, a new Strategic Plan is implemented around the concept of “Fullness of Life for All”. Since 2008, UMN has continued to work in the same seven “cluster” areas, implementing a wide range of programmes through its partners. Here are just a few.
Anti-Human Trafficking. Working through women’s groups in Rupandehi and Dhading, this project raises awareness about the issue of trafficking, and empowers women to protect their communities.
National Mental Health Network. UMN takes the lead in bringing together organisations working in mental health, to share ideas and to advocate on behalf of people with mental illness.
“Fullness of Life for All,
in a Transformed Nepali Society”.
Multiple Use Water Systems. Subsistence farmers and their communities in Bajhang and Doti benefit from water systems that are used for both domestic and irrigation purposes.
Child-Centred Community Development. In Sunsari and Dhading, these large projects put children and their needs and rights at the centre of community development.
What an amazing history of service to the people of Nepal!
UMN has financed the building of hospitals, schools and businesses, almost all now handed over to the Government of Nepal for the benefit of the nation. It has provided much-needed health services for tens of thousands of people, educated and trained countless adults and children, helped farmers to grow better crops and raise healthier livestock, supported micro-businesses and pioneered development technologies. Its staff, both Nepali and expatriate, have lived and worked across the country, from the high himals to the steamy southern plains; from Mechi to Mahakali.
These days, UMN focuses on strengthening the capacity of Nepali organisations to work effectively in their own communities – a sustainable, people-oriented model that recognises the skills, enthusiasm and vision of new generations of Nepalis. Our Fullness of Life model (“The Present”) guides our work towards “Fullness of life for all, in a transformed Nepali society”.
But what of the future? Is there a place for UMN in the Nepal of the 21st century?
We believe there is!
• In an increasingly educated Nepal, UMN will develop highly competent, effective Nepali staff to fill leadership positions, internally and in other organisations.
• In an increasingly educated Nepal, UMN will develop highly competent, effective Nepali staff to fill leadership positions, internally and in other organisations.
• As social traditions change, UMN will focus on community transformation, working through its partners towards peaceful, just and harmonious communities where all can realise their potential.
Root Causes of Poverty
• As the gap between rich and poor widens, UMN will address the root causes of poverty and break down the barriers of disadvantage and discrimination that make and keep people poor.
• In a world threatened by changing climate, UMN will care for Creation, encourage environmentally sustainable development, and assist communities adapt and become more resilient to climate threats.
Good Governance and Accountability
• At a time of changing power dynamics, UMN will help to strengthen participation, good governance and accountability, particularly at the local level.
• As the Nepali Christian community grows and flourishes, UMN will encourage and support Nepali Christians and churches as they seek to love and serve their neighbours.
• In the context of globalisation, UMN will provide a link between organisations in Nepal and our global network of supporting agencies.
Relying on God
• Acknowledging that we can do nothing lasting on our own, UMN will continue to rely on the power and guidance of God, true to its Christian heritage, beliefs and values.
The Values of God’s Kingdom
• As a group of people inspired by the love and teaching of Jesus Christ, UMN will demonstrate the values of God’s Kingdom, thereby making Christ known in word and life.
Six of our Executive Directors share their thoughts on their time with UMN.
Howard Barclay 1984-1990
My wife Betty and I first joined UMN in 1960, after eight years in Jogbani, when both UMN and the church in Nepal were in the early stages of growth. We had the privilege of working in Amp Pipal and Thapathali for more than a decade, during which we saw both UMN and the Nepali church grow significantly.
We returned to Nepal in 1980 for a further 10 years (for the last six, I was Executive Director). UMN was a large and influential organisation, and Nepal was on the verge of major political and social change. The Democracy Revolution of 1990 ushered in new freedom for Nepal, and for the church. Our greatest joy was to see the Nepali church as a truly indigenous and thriving believing community – the answer to the prayers of my parents (my mother prayed from 1911 to 1990!) and of so many others who, for more than a century, had prayed and worked to this end.
It was our privilege to be part of that line of remarkable people as diverse as Ganga Prasad Pradhan, John and Lilian Coombe, Mildred Ballard, Pastor Robert Kartak and Dr Rajendra Rongong, Ernest Oliver, Trevor Strong and Jonathan Lindell. These, and a host of others, served the people of Nepal through the work of UMN, and their service and legacy supported the growth of the Nepali church.
Norma Kehrberg 2000
My response to working with the UMN can be summed up in one word, gratitude. Sent to Amp Pipal In 1968, I learned language from the school children, culture from the villagers, life as a Christian from the early Nepali Christians, and my role as a missionary in a Hindu country from UMN colleagues.
In 1968, the literacy rate was 3% for women, infant mortality was over 200 deaths per 1000 live births, and 50% of the children born died before five years of age. Early mission and Nepali leaders envisioned a Nepal where children lived and went to school, families had health care and communities thrived. UMN developed institutions - hospitals, schools, hydropower plants, companies and community programs - to address basic needs, not for the mission to retain but to become part of the infrastructure for Nepal. Programmes and processes changed to meet the ever-emerging needs in Nepal. One appreciates the present by looking back!
Working with Nepali staff and UMN mission colleagues from different missions and countries while worshipping with the early Nepali Christians was the best way, and perhaps the only way, I could have been in mission. I thank God that I was called to Nepal.
Edgar Metzler 1990-1998
Gratitude to God and congratulations to UMN for sixty years of living out the goal of UMN’s founders: “…to serve the people of Nepal in the name and spirit of Christ…”
My tenure with UMN began in early 1990, as public demonstrations of the Democracy Movement filled the streets with noise and confusion. When the King conceded in early April, Christians celebrated the possibility of more religious freedom. I shall never forget the thrill of walking with Christians in a procession past the Palace on Easter Sunday, the first such Christian witness on the streets, a few days after the Movement declared victory.
Nepal’s evolving political situation presented new opportunities. We could be more open with the government about our Christian identity and more openly explore with the Nepali Christian community ways to partner in development projects. We could advance further toward the goal of turning the work over to Nepalis. The UMN board considered these developments and agreed on a strategy for the future. The goal would be to work with Nepalis developing their own organisational capacity to meet the needs they considered as priorities. As UMN has grown and changed since, this has remained a key part of its thinking and action.
I want to thank all UMN staff for the privilege of joining them as colleagues in service to Nepal.
Jennie Collins 2001-2009
When I arrived at UMN at the end of 2000, I was filled with excitement and anticipation, not to mention an awesome sense of inadequacy for the job. Along with this, I had a deep sense of this being God’s place for me at that time. I knew a certain amount about UMN from many years before when I had been a member of the International Nepal Fellowship (INF) and later a Member of the UMN Board and Executive Committee, but all of that was from a very different perspective and in a different era.
However, my initial over-riding and on-going impression throughout my time in UMN was of a very friendly, loyal, experienced and competent group of Nepalis and expatriates. They were committed to the people of Nepal, particularly those living on the edges of society, in isolated and difficult situations. Together we worked to change UMN to be capable and relevant for service in the context of far-reaching change in the first decade of the 21st century. In particular, we wanted to have the opportunity to work in a closer relationship with the church, which had grown and matured so much in its first 50 years.
UMN’s rich heritage has contributed to its ability to adapt and remain relevant throughout the many changes within Nepal, and I pray it will continue to be blessed and used by God to be a blessing to others.
Michael Askwith 1998-1999
Secondment by Tearfund in early 1998 provided a wonderful opportunity to bring together my prior experience of 28 years with the UN Development Programme, as well as experience as a Christian working in a secular development agency in many countries.
It was a huge privilege to serve UMN as Executive Director, working with some wonderful people and organisations. Although our time in Nepal was regrettably short, due to the need to return to the UK in late 1999, it was invigorating, challenging and enjoyable.
Our language and orientation programme, including time spent in Amp Pipal and Jumla, was followed by work with UMN’s departments, the Executive Committee and Board, interspersed with project visiting. A major focus was completing a comprehensive evaluation of UMN-supported programmes and projects, the first stage of preparing a new UMN strategy, subsequently completed by my successors.
During this process, I came to appreciate UMN’s amazing contributions to Nepal’s capacity development in health, education, rural
development, engineering and industrial development. Its wide network of solid projects, training programmes, and volunteer expertise were fully recognised by government, beneficiaries and donor partners alike.
Mark Galpin 2009-Present
What a privilege to celebrate UMN’s 60 years of continuous service to the people of Nepal. This timeline project indicates the huge range of this contribution – both technically and geographically. The impact of UMN’s work of building capacity for the long term is demonstrated by the fact that, while UMN itself continues its work through our 56 partners in 10 districts and through our two hospitals, more than 30 NGOs, companies and institutions that have come out from UMN over the last 60 years continue to grow and develop too. Behind all the numbers and names of projects and programmes are of course tens of thousands of people and hundreds of communities whose lives have been touched and changed.
Nepal has also changed dramatically. Throughout these changes, UMN has adapted to ensure the effectiveness and relevance of our on-going contribution. UMN remains committed to serving the people of Nepal, together with all of its partners in Nepal and worldwide, striving towards “Fullness of life for all, in a transformed Nepali society”. God has been with us thus far, and I know that, as we put our trust in Him, He will walk before us into the future. To Him be the glory!
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TIMELINE CONCEPT, DESIGN, ARTWORK & BUILD
COPY & EDITING
PHOTO ARCHIVE WORK
Jack Sheehan, Phil Rawlings & Lyn Jackson
with thanks to Yale School of Divinity — UMN Archives
The photos used here were collected from various services. Please do not use without permission from UMN.