Education  Nepal Project #53829

Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children

by Vision Dolpo
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children
Passive Solar Classrooms for Himalayan Children

Dear supporters,

We are thrilled to share the wonderful news of the successful closure of our fundraising campaign aimed at supporting the research, design, and construction of holistic Early Childhood Development centers in Dho and Taksi villages, Dho-Tarap, Dolpo.

When we embarked on this journey back in September 2021, our initial target was to raise $5,000 to fund the research and construction of two passive solar classrooms for early childhood education. With your tremendous support, we quickly surpassed our goal, raising over $7,000 from around 50 donors. This allowed us to become a permanent member on the GlobalGiving platform, opening new doors for raising funds for research-oriented projects.

Over time, as we conducted extensive research and identified the needs of the community, we raised our fundraising target to $15,000 and then finally to $55,000. Thanks to your continued support, we have raised just over $16,000, with over 95% of the funds utilized primarily in research and associated costs. This enabled us to prepare detailed designs and compelling proposals, one of which was accepted by a government entity. We are pleased to announce that we have secured a grant of approximately $150,000 (Rs. 20 million) to fund the construction of the southern wing of the ECD center in Dho village, a major milestone in our project.

This success would not have been possible without the dedication of our strong team of architects and engineers, who have volunteered their expertise and time to contribute to sustainable design and architecture. Your generous donations have amplified the impact of our efforts, making it all possible.

While we celebrate this achievement, we recognize that there is still much work ahead. Detailed designs of the ECD center need to be completed, structural analysis must be conducted, and building materials researched and identified. We also aim to construct the northern wing of the ECD center in Dho village and establish an entirely new center in Tokyu village, and eventually, in all villages in Dolpo.

Moreover, as we face the challenges posed by changing climate trends and extreme weather events, we realize the critical importance of continuous research. In light of recent events, such as the flooding in Dho-Tarap caused by extreme rain, we are committed to conducting detailed land surveys and further research on climate patterns in the high Himalayas.

Your unwavering support has been our driving force throughout this journey, and we are incredibly grateful for it. As we look to the future, we are planning to create a new project on GlobalGiving focused solely on fundraising for research related to passive solar infrastructure, changing climate patterns, and other areas. We will keep you informed about this new campaign and other exciting updates on our work.

Once again, thank you for being an invaluable part of our vision and mission. Your belief in our cause motivates us to persevere and work diligently towards creating a better future for the communities we serve.

Best Regards,

The Research Team
Passive Solar and Vernacular Architecture
Vision Dolpo

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Concept design of prototype ECD classrooms
Concept design of prototype ECD classrooms

Dear supporters,

Thank you for your continued support for our goal of building passive solar heated classrooms and learning spaces for all year use in Dho Tarap valley, at an altitude of over 4,200 m/13,700 ft. 
So far, with your support, we have been able to: 
  1. Research and design integrated Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers for Dho and Tokyo villages in Dho Tarap valley. These centers will provide maternity and child care, day care services, and early childhood education enabling holistic development of 80-100 children/center from 0-8 years of age.  
  2.  Do on-site research and workshops with community members, teachers, and students, with the help of a team of architects and researchers. This helped us analyze the community proposed sites for the ECD centers in the two villages, get feedback on our proposed ECD center design, scout for locally available sustainable building materials, and do lab-testing of the soil from different parts of the valley. The site-visit also enabled us to finalize the scope of this GlobalGiving project, as the local stakeholders decided on the need for a temporary solution to ECD classrooms and services at Crystal Mountain School (where all early childhood classes are currently run) because the building housing this classes is being demolished this year due to safety concerns of the building; it was heavily damaged in the 2015 earthquakes, and has been subsequently affected by irregular weather patterns including increased rainfall. 
  3. Most recently (Jan - Feb 2023), we have finished a concept design of the prototype ECD classrooms to be built near the CMS campus (so that after the full ECD centers are built in the villages, these can be used as classrooms for higher grades). Our aim is to raise more funds until we meet our total target of $55,000 to fund the construction of these classrooms. See the attached image for what the classrooms might look like. We are currently planning for 4 classrooms which will serve the immediate needs of the community, while also allowing our team to prove the effectiveness of our design and research by building on a smaller scale before we work on the ECD centers based in each village.  
  4. Other related projects: The past few months have been quite busy for our team. Apart from the ECD project, we are currently working on other infrastructure related projects at CMS. Recently, we completed the design of a residential block for 60 boys and 120 girls, fully equipped with study areas, warm showers, and multipurpose dining hall along with rooms that were co-designed by students from Grade 9-10 along with our chief sustainability adviser and architect, Nistha Nakarmi. We are likewise in the process of designing a multipurpose hall for CMS, that will house libraries, labs, and an indoor hall suitable for the harsh winters. We are excited to share more exciting news, along with details of these projects, in the coming future! 
The next steps and the tentative calendar for the project are: 
  1. Finalize design and costing of prototype ECD classrooms. You can find a concept design on the attached image. (April 2023)
  2. Push for fundraising campaign. (April-June 2023)
  3. Build prototype ECD classrooms (May-July 2023)
  4. Start classes in the new prototype. Demolish the unsafe building where classes are currently being held. (July 2023 - Oct 2024)
  5. Finalize integrated ECD centers design for Tokyu and Dho sites based on findings from prototype construction. Seek financial support for construction of ECD centers in Dho and Tokyu villages from provincial/federal government and/or other donors. (2023-24)
  6. Begin construction of ECD centers in Tokyu and Dho villages. (2024-)
How you can help?
  1. Donate again to kickstart the new round of fundraising for this project. Any amount helps us build traffic to our fundraising page. Our main project page is:
  2. Share among your network of friends and family. 
  3. Write to us at . We would love to hear from you, including any suggestions you may have. 

Best Regards,

Vision Dolpo team


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Dear supporters,

We are excited to provide some major updates regarding the project. It has been just more than a year now since we started this crowdfunding campaign to build warm classrooms for young children in Dho Tarap valley, Dolpo. Through your support, we have been able to conduct detailed research on passive solar technology, vernacular architecture, ways of reducing costs (financial and environmental), and on the needs of the communities in Dho and Tokyu villages. We also prepared an initial campus design for an early childhood development (ECD) center, integrating maternal care, nutrition, day-care, and sanitation facilities for holistic investment in childrens’ development. Meanwhile, work on preparing a curriculum, operational guidelines, and crucially fundraising is ongoing. 

On October 2, our team of designers, architects and engineers went to the valley for an on-site field survey and research on building materials and local architecture. It took us 3 days of bus and jeep rides from Kathmandu to Dunai, and then a further 9 days of walking and waiting (due to flash floods and landslides following a week-long rainfall) to get to Dho. Fortunately, we made it safely crossing the heavily damaged trails and were able to do the work we set out to do. We got feedback on our proposed design for the ECD center from community members, local government representatives, and school staff, students and local teachers. We explored different elements of the traditional architecture in the valley, documented changes in building techniques (for e.g. use of corrugated sheets to counter the increased rainfall due changing climate patterns in the region), surveyed the proposed sites for ECD centers in Tokyu and Dho villages, and research available building materials and costs. 

To summarize briefly, the almost month-long field research trip– made possible by your generous support – was a great success. We had a few major “aha” moments, especially in terms of how we were going to balance affordability with leveraging local construction techniques and available human and construction resources. 

Below you will find a brief summary of some of our major findings, and the next steps for this project. 

Major findings of research 

  1. Community is aware of the needs for all year round education and holistic development for young children, and generally excited by the idea of the development of centers close to villages. They also understand the general concept of greenhouses (which are used by all households to grow vegetables in the summer and as warm spaces during sunny days in the winter), and how passive solar houses could potentially be very comfortable and warm in the winters. But people remain skeptical of their implementation in Dho Tarap as there is no available example in the valley of an effective passive solar heated house. 
    • What we learned: Building even a small but effective passive solar room will be vital to enable the community members to experience the warmth and comfort in winters and see and feel how such rooms can really ease their daily lives, especially with regards to needing to continuously burn polluting dung cakes for heating.   
  2. ECD teachers and school administrators are also concerned about meeting the needs of young children in the present, until functioning ECD centers are available in both Dho and Tokyu villages. As we have highlighted before, current ECD classrooms at Crystal Mountain School are not adequate and especially get too cold even for adults by late August. There is a need to improve classrooms for the children for at least 2-4 years until ECD centers are built in each village, and Crystal Mountain School can focus on older children. 
    • What we learned: For the prototype passive solar room to test our ideas at a small scale, we can build a classroom at the school premises to serve current needs of ECD teachers (and which can be used by the school in the future as a senior classroom or a meeting hall). This will also enable us to make better estimates of the costs for the ECD centers, especially as we are testing new building techniques. 
  3. Building materials that are available locally and traditionally used consist primarily of stones and wood, both of which are expensive and very hard to source due to huge transportation and labor costs. Other locally available materials like barley straw and wool may be good options as the insulating materials.
    • What we learned: Stones (and a significant amount of wood) can be replaced by earth bricks, as has been done in Ladakh. Incidentally, earth bricks are not foreign to Dolpo either, as they can be seen in Dho Tarap in a few old structures including some old residential houses. For this, research on the composition of soil and an efficient way to make earth bricks (especially in a way that can also help with earthquake resilience) will be needed. Work on this is currently ongoing. 
  4. There is a big risk of the loss of vernacular architecture in the valley due to changing weather patterns and increased rainfall which traditional roofing techniques were not meant to handle. While in the past only government funded building structures (including a few at our school) used corrugated sheets as roofing (this was not necessarily to handle rainfall, but because designs for such buildings are standardized by the government for the whole country despite great geographic diversity), community members are increasingly in favor of such sheets compared to traditional flat earth roofs. 
    • What we learned: Certain design considerations like slanted roofs can be a good way to tackle the challenges presented by the changing climate, while protecting elements of vernacular architecture. Earth brick roofs may be another option. 
  5. Most construction labor in the valley consists of workers from other regions of Nepal. As there is very little capacity for supervision at the local level, the quality of workmanship (for instance, in making stone or rammed earth walls) is a big issue even for relatively large construction projects at the local government level. There are also specific challenges due to the short construction season, as winters are not viable for any kind of continuous outdoor physical work. 
    • What we learned: Good workmanship is difficult to ensure and labor costs are always rising. There are opportunities for local people to take lead in their own communities. We are currently exploring the use of hand pressed hydraulic earth brick machines to speed up construction, reduce chances of poor workmanship by simplifying the construction process, and encourage local community members to brainstorm entrepreneurial ideas. 

Next Steps and Funding Challenges 

  1. Meet fundraising target of $55,000 (Nov 2022 - Mar 2023)
    1. So far, about $16,000 has been raised (and spent), which has funded most of the research work that we have done over the last year. 
    2. About $30,000 remains to be raised of the target amount.
      1. About $5,000 will be used to partially cover the costs for certain research tasks like lab testing of construction materials and earth bricks, as well as administrative costs for grant writing and funding search for ECD centers.
      2. About $3,500 will be used to purchase a single hand pressed earth brick machine that can produce over 500 bricks per day. 
      3. Remaining amount will be used to cover design, materials, and construction costs for the prototype classroom. 
  2. Construct prototype classroom  (Apr 2023 - Sep 2023) 
    1. Compare estimated costs vs actual costs during construction 
  3. Test classroom in winter (Oct 2023 - Mar 2024) 
    1. Get daily temperature data (inside vs outside) and test against predicted models

Other Tasks 

  • Another set of local government and community workshops to finalize location of ECD centers, cost contributions, and timeline for construction and operation.
  • Finalization of ECD designs based on feedback and new building materials and construction approach.  
  • Development of legal and community engagement framework to run the centers.
  • Development of a framework for integration and collaboration between CMS (parent school) and ECD centers (feeder schools)

How can you help? 

  • Consider making a donation again by clicking here. The more donations we get the easier it is to reach greater people, which can help our fundraising campaign gather momentum online. 
  • Consider donating monthly. You can find recurring-donation option on our GlobalGiving project page. Continued monthly donations (even small amounts) get matched by GlobalGiving, and also help our fundraising campaign gather momentum. 
  • Share our work. Write to your friends, family, and colleagues. Writing a personal message can be very effective. Sharing also helps drive social media traffic to our posts and increase views of our GlobalGiving project and donation page.  
  • Are you interested in helping us in another way? In making a large donation? Or know someone who might be interested in our work? Connect with us via email at 
  • We are preparing to send periodic newsletters to our supporters directly via email, as a way of showcasing our work, sharing feedback from local communities, and the impact our supporters are making. If you are interested, send us a quick message at 
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Dear supporters,

On October 2, 2022, our design, engineering and sustainability team is heading to Dho Tarap valley for a community site visit to finalize location of the first ECD center in Tokyu village, and conduct research on local building materials and techniques. With over 5 days of bus and jeep rides and a further 4 day walk up to Dho Tarap valley, this has been a challenging part of our project to manage logistics and utilize the 3 week window in October that our engineering and design team have carved out of their busy schedules in Kathmandu.  

Our primary goals in this trip are:

  • Gather all required information for the final engineering design of the ECD center and final cost analysis for construction
  • Engage with local community members for co-design of the center and incorporate local ideas and building techniques
  • Draw an initial plan for the full infrastructure of Crystal Mountain School (in addition to the ECD center, for which a final plan will be prepared)

Some of the activities we will be engaging in are:

  • Workshops with community members in Dho and Tokyu villages
  • Workshops with ECD teachers and staff at Crystal Mountain School
  • Workshops with students at Crystal Mountain School, including Minecraft games and physical model building where students will imagine their future campus and also the ECD centers in Dho and Tokyu villages
  • Video and photo documentation of the journey with the help of a photographer/film-maker who is going on the trip

This trip is one of the most vital phases of the ECD project we are undertaking. And it has only been possible to spend so much time and resources planning this trip for deep research and community work with your generous support. We are extremely grateful. 

Consider donating to help us continue our work. We are in need of resources to fund further research, and parts of this local site visit trip. 

Best Regards,

Vision Dolpo Team

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Dear supporters,

With your generous support, we have been able to raise over $16,000 so far. This has enabled us to fund the architectural design and initial engineering analysis of the first Early Childhood Development center. We are very proud of the designs that have been prepared. You can find more details about the design on our website:, and also on the updated project document on our GlobalGiving page:

The next steps include finalizing the design after a site visit in Dho Tarap with a group of engineers, sustainability experts, and architects scheduled for Sept-Oct 2022. Our team will run community workshops to get further input on the initial design, bring soil and other materials for lab testing in Kathmandu, and then complete a final drawing for the ECD center with detailed engineering and structural analysis and design updates based on community feedback. Our deadline for getting this final design is Dec 2022.

Our initial estimates for the construction of one ECD center cross $240,000 for Phase 1 (just the southern block of the center which can be immediately put to use to run classes and essential services), and $500,000 for both southern and northern blocks. We are now starting to approach donors (mainly embassies based in Kathmandu) to help us fund construction of either just Phase 1 or the entire ECD center. 

As informed in our previous report, our strategy for crowdfunding has now shifted from the actual construction of the ECD center to ensuring the costs for research, design, and program administration costs. Additionally, we are planning to use about $20,000 (out of the total target of $55,000 on GlobalGiving currently) to start sourcing wood and stone locally. This will enable us to begin construction right away once funding is ensured for construction. 

We are now requesting our supporters to help us cover the costs of programs until Dec 2022. For the site visit lab research and community programs, we are in need of about $3000. We require about $6000 to pay for detailed structural and engineering analysis of the campus. 

In total, we are trying to raise $9000 by end of October. And at least $2000 by end of August to ensure we can follow our current calendar of programs. We would like to request you to help us achieve this target. You can contribute more yourself, share the project with your friends and colleagues, and help us share our mission and vision. We are also eager to get your feedback and suggestions, also regarding any potential sources of funding we may look into for the construction costs. 

We have been so fortunate to have your support to enable this innovative and potentially revolutionary project, not just for Dolpo but for the entire Nepal Himalayas. With your continued support, we are sure we can successfully complete this ambitious project. 

On behalf of the whole Vision Dolpo team and our students,

Pawan Dhakal,
Project Lead, ECD program
Vision Dolpo

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Organization Information

Vision Dolpo

Location: Kathmandu, Bagmati - Nepal
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Pawan Dhakal
Kathmandu , Bagmati Nepal

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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