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Nepal - Latest News Headlines of the Day

Ambassador of Myanmar to Nepal Lwin Oo and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara at the latters office on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Photo: RSS

KATHMANDU: Ambassador of Myanmar to Nepal Lwin Oo called on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara at the latter’s office on Tuesday.

During the meeting, various aspects of Nepal-Myanmar relations and cooperation were discussed. On the occasion, DPM Mahara said that the bilateral relations between the two countries based on friendship, collaboration and equality has been further strengthened by the shared reverence to Gautam Buddha and his ideals.

He expressed the confidence that the resumption of direct air link between the two countries would help promote Nepal-Myanmar tourism, while noting that matters of mutual interest and concern would be further expanded through the establishment of a bilateral consultative mechanism between the two countries.

In response, Ambassador Lwin said bilateral relations between the two countries have expanded to the people’s level, and noted that around 20 to 25 thousand tourists from Myanmar visit Nepal every year. The Ambassador also pledged to take the initiative to fulfil all the requirements necessary for the joint consultative mechanism.

Meanwhile, Head of delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nepal Andre’ Paquet paid a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Mahara today.

Head of delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Andre’ Paquet and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara at the latters office on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Photo: RSS

On the occasion, Paquet informed DPM Mahara about the regional conference on human rights and humanitarian law being held in Nepal from coming August 20 to 23.

The post Ambassador of Myanmar calls on DPM Mahara appeared first on The Himalayan Times.

Palestinians vow to continue protests against the installation of surveillance cameras at al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Santiago, Chile, Jul 25, 2017 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- This Aug. 15 will mark 90 years since the Sacramentine Sisters of Don Orione were founded to offer something very particular for the salvation of the world: their blindness.

They are a community of blind nuns consecrated to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and wear a distinctive white habit, a red scapular, and a white Host embroidered on the chest.

“I intend to offer with this new branch of the religious family, as a flower before the throne of the Blessed Virgin, so that she herself, with her blessed hands, offer it to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” Saint Luigi Orione told them when he founded the order in Italy Aug. 15, 1927.

This branch of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity (LMSC) has as its mission, according to its constitutions, to offer to God “the privation of sight for those who do not know the truth yet so that they may come to God, the light of the world.”

In addition they seek to support with Eucharistic Adoration and sacrifice “the apostolic action of the LMSC and the Sons of Divine Providence,” the two congregations founded by Saint Luigi Orione.

The congregation is present in Italy, Spain, the Philippines, Kenya, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.

They have been in Chile since 1943 and currently there are three sisters there: Sr. María Luz Ojeda, Sr. Elizabeth Sepúlveda, and Sr. María Pía Urbina, who is on mission in the Philippines at the moment.

These sisters attend computer classes to be able to bring before the Blessed Sacrament the numerous petitions they receive from many faithful through their Facebook account, where they offer to pray for each intention they receive.

Sr. María Luz Ojeda had an accident when she was a child which left her with severe vision problems which gradually increased until at 30 years of age she completely lost her sight.

“Sometimes I personally thank God, since because of this I was able to enter the congregation. Before the Blessed Sacrament I often tell the Lord: 'this is my means of helping you save souls,' and I'm happy,” Sr. María Luz told CNA.

The religious sister explained that “every day in our prayer and Adoration we present to the Lord the poverty, sufferings, and sorrows of humanity.”

“Perhaps what I am going to say may seem like I'm claiming too much  but I am going to have this to present to the Lord on the day he calls me, that I helped him save souls,” Sr. María Luz said.

The sisters dedicate each day of the week for a special intention: Mondays for the sick, Tuesday for young people, Wednesdays for peace, Thursdays for vocations, Fridays for the elderly, Saturdays for children, and Sundays for families.

KATHMANDU: Part-time teachers of constituent campuses under the Tribhuvan University have staged a relay hunger strike from today, demanding a contract appointment.

Member of Nepal Part-Time Teachers’ Association, Ghamraj Luintel, said that they staged the relay hunger strike demanding appointment of part-time teachers, who taught at least for one academic session, on contract.

The part-time teachers have staged the relay hunger strike in front of office of vice-chancellor from 8:00 am.

Announcing advertisement for the post of lecturer in a regular manner by the TU Service Commission and educational reforms are their other demands.

He said that they would launch stern agitation if their demands are not addressed. There are some 1,200 part-time teachers at constituent campuses across the country.

The post Part-time teachers of constituent campuses stage relay hunger-strike appeared first on The Himalayan Times.

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KATHMANDU: The health condition of former Speaker Subash Nembang is improving, according to an official of CPN-UML.

Krishna Gopal Shrestha, the party’s central office secretary was quoted in the Rastriya Samachar Samiti as saying, Nembang was hospitalised after he complained of discomfort as his diabetic level suddenly surged on Monday morning.

He is receiving treatment at the Kathmandu Model Hospital in Pradarshani Marga in the Capital.

Although his health has improved over the period, doctors have retained him in the hospital for supervision, added Shrestha.


The post Former Speaker Nembang’s health improving appeared first on The Himalayan Times.

Sher Bahadur Deuba_Sanjay Pandit

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba pays his final tribute to mountaineer Sanjay Pandit at the National Sports Council in Tripureshwor of Kathmandu on July 25, 2017. Photo: RSS

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba honoured late ultra-runner Sanjay Pandit by draping his body with the national flag.

Pandit’s body has been kept at Tripureshwar for last tribute.

PM Deuba reached Tripureshwar-based National Sports Council and extended tribute to late Pandit.

Pandit (29), an ultra runner from Pyuthan district, died while descending the Denali Pass after the team successfully scaled the peak on June 16.

Pandit’s body was brought here on Monday night.

On the occasion, PM Deuba said that demise of Pandit has caused a huge loss to the nation. “Pandit died in course of climbing Mt Denali of USA in order to establish Nepal’s identity across the globe. The demise of Pandit has hurt all the Nepali people. I wish his soul rest in eternal peace,” said PM Deuba.

Similarly, Speaker Onsari Gharti, Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Nepali Congress senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel, Ram Sharan Mahat and CPN Maoist Centre leader Barshaman Pun also extended tribute to late Pandit.


Sher Bahadur Deuba_Sanjay Pandit

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba drapes the national flag of Nepal on the body of mountaineer Sanjay Pandit at the National Sports Council in Tripureshwor of Kathmandu on July 25, 2017. Photo: RSS

Leaders of various political parties, well wishers, national players, climbers among others had gathered at Tripureshwar to pay final tribute.

Pandit, who started his adventurous journey from 2065 BS, had climbed highest mountains of seven continents. Pandit, who had already climbed the Mt Denali, died in course of second attempt of climbing.

Earlier, Pandit had run from Swargadwari of Pyuthan to Kathmandu in 47 hours and 20 minutes.

Similarly, he had stayed half-naked at Mt Elbrus in Europe for six minutes and three seconds at the temperature of ‘-60 degree Celsius’ to set a new record on July 20, 2014.


Sanjay Pandit’s new record at Mt Kilimanjaro

The post PM Deuba pays tribute to Nepali mountaineer Pandit appeared first on The Himalayan Times.

Kovind said he will use his position to improve the situation of Dalits, a community once known as 'untouchables'.

Rome, Italy, Jul 25, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One year after the brutal killing of Fr. Jacques Hamel, French bishops recalled the beautiful example of the man who lived out every day in simple faithfulness, rooted in the love of Christ.

Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille wrote in a statement Monday that Fr. Jacques Hamel, who was murdered by Islamist extremists while celebrating Mass, was, in the words of his sister, Roseline: “above all a man among men.”

“It was this man among men who was killed. It was this man among men, this priest, that has become a symbol of a life lived with each other, for each other, a life of daily fidelity, a life rooted in the love of the One who has made each one of us out of love: Christ.”

“Such a life becomes a model and an encouragement for all,” he said.

The 85-year-old parish priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, was killed while celebrating Mass July 26, 2016 after two armed gunmen stormed his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy.

The assailants entered the church and took the priest and four others hostage. Local law enforcement reported that the priest’s throat was slit in the attack, and that both of the hostage takers were shot dead by police. The attackers were identified as Islamist extremists.

Pope Francis issued a statement at the time decrying the “absurd violence.” He later said during a Mass in September 2016 at the Vatican in honor of Fr. Hamel that the slain priest “is blessed now,” according to Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen who was there.

July 26 will mark one year since the assassination of Fr. Hamel, Archbishop Pontier said. “It was one of those unthinkable events that leaves one speechless and becomes a great testimony, a lesson for all.”

“The Christian community, and far beyond it, French society remembers,” he continued. We do not want to forget his family, his relatives, the other victims, his parish, bruised in their deep affection and human ties.”

In the statement, the archbishop also evoked the upcoming Feast of the Assumption, which is celebrated on August 15. This feast, he said, “which brings us together in the middle of the summer,” is a day reserved especially for the French to pray for their country.

“I invite you to pray for France. Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to raise up many men and women who live their ordinary lives for others and with others. Let the fraternity longed for become a reality. May it inspire our personal choices and the choice of those who exercise responsibilities, of whatever kind.”

To commemorate the day of his death, the Diocese of Rouen, where Fr. Hamel was a priest, plans to hold a special Mass July 26 at the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, at the same hour as the Mass he was celebrating when killed.

After the Mass, the community of the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray will erect a stone in memory of Fr. Hamel and in promotion of peace and fraternity.

In the evening they will hold evening prayer in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Bonsecours in Rouen, followed by a time of prayer at the tomb of Fr. Hamel.

Fr. Hamel’s sister, Roseline, spoke about her brother April 22 during testimony on modern-day martyrs during a special liturgy said by Pope Francis in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Rome’s Tiber Island.

Speaking to the congregation, Roseline said that in his old age Fr. Hamel had been fragile, but “he was also strong. Strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for people, whoever it was, and – I am certain – also for his killers.”

His death, she said, “is in line with the life of a priest, which was one of a life given: a life offered to the Lord, when he said ‘yes’ at the moment of his ordination, a life of service to the Gospel, a life given for the church and her people, above all the poorest.

She pointed to the “paradox” that while alive her brother never wanted to be “at the center,” but that after his death, “has given a testimony for the entire world, the greatness of which we cannot measure.”

After her brother died, Roseline said the reaction of the community was strong. Rather than wanting revenge, there was a desire for “love and forgiveness,” she said, explaining that even Muslims who wanted to show solidarity with Christians came to visit the parish for Sunday Masses in a show of support.

Despite her loss, Roseline said “it’s a great comfort to see how many new encounters, how much solidarity, how much love have been generated by the witness of Jacques,” and prayed that his sacrifice would “bring fruits, so that the men and women of our time can find the path to living together in peace.”

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Washington D.C., Jul 25, 2017 / 12:08 am (Church Pop).- As the Senate prepares to vote later today to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, pro-life leaders are working to ensure pro-life language is included in the final version of the bill voted on.

“There is no reason for private non-governmental organizations, like Planned Parenthood, to receive millions of dollars every year in taxpayer money. I will keep working with my colleagues to include pro-life provisions in the healthcare bill because abortion is not healthcare,” Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) said.

The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, although it has not been announced which replacement bill will ultimately be voted on.

However, there are concerns that the final legislation voted on in the Senate will not include pro-life provisions.

On Friday, the Senate Parliamentarian sent out a guidance stating the pro-life provisions in the bill – stripping Planned Parenthood of Medicaid reimbursements for one year and prohibiting any tax credits from paying for insurance that includes abortion coverage – could be removed short of 60 votes.

Senate Republicans do not have the 60 votes usually required to move a bill to the floor for a vote, but they had planned to pass a bill under the process of reconciliation, where legislation pertaining to the budget can be passed with a simple majority of votes.

The Parliamentarian, however, advised on Friday that the pro-life provisions violated the “Byrd Rule,” which prevents language not pertaining to the budget from being included in a bill passed through the reconciliation process.

However, the language stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funds reportedly can be adjusted and re-inserted into the legislation voted on Tuesday. The language preventing federal funding of plans covering abortions, however, may still be blocked from a vote.

The 2016 Republican Party platform states that “we will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.”

“The news from the parliamentarian was another dip in the roller coaster ride,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, told the Washington Post on Sunday. “We have been reassured the problem can be fixed, so are in a tentative support mode still.”

The most recent Senate health care proposal, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would reduce spending on Medicaid and put a cap on Medicaid payments to states based on their population. Federal subsidies for coverage would also be reduced, and the penalties imposed on people who are without health insurance, along with the employer insurance mandate, would be done away with.

Scored by the Congressional Budget Office, it was determined to reduce the deficit by $420 billion over a decade, but would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million.

However, some have cautioned that the CBO scores are “flawed” as they consider only government actions while ignoring the private sector. Thus, if a government requirement for persons to have health insurance – the individual mandate – were to be repealed, that would be considered by the CBO for scoring, but not the effect of incentives for persons to buy insurance like tax credits and health savings accounts.

Critics have pointed to the nearly identical scoring of both a simple repeal of the ACA, which judged by the CBO to result in 22 million more uninsured persons, and the House-passed American Health Care Act, a repeal-and-replace bill, which was also determined to result in 23 million more uninsured.

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chair of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice and human development committee, meanwhile said that the first version of the Senate bill was “unacceptable” and that the revised version did not contain enough improvements to change that determination.

Regarding the first version of the bill, he said in June that “it is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written.”

“At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a ‘per capita cap’ on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable,” he said of the proposed per capita caps in Medicaid funding to states.

Regarding the repeal of the individual mandate, and its replacement with a penalty for going more than 63 days without coverage, he said that “many people are forced to use their resources to address immediate needs,” and that the penalty “will leave these individuals and families without coverage when they need it most.”

And the bill would also result in higher premiums and less relief for some of those who need it most, he said. “In many places, older and lower-income people will pay more than under current law because of decreased levels of tax credit support and higher premiums.”

When the revised plan was released, Bishop Dewane said in a July 13 statement that it was still unacceptable and that “more is needed to honor our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters living in poverty and to ensure that essential protections for the unborn remain in the bill."

Last week, short of the needed votes to pass the bill through the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ultimately announced that a vote would occur to repeal and replace the ACA.

However, the Senate on Tuesday will reportedly vote on a “motion to proceed” on the House bill, the AHCA, and then would attach amendments to repeal and replace the ACA.

These amendments would include language from the 2015 repeal bill and a version of the Senate’s recent health care proposal. That language would reportedly not include the protections against taxpayer funding of insurance plans with abortions.

On July 21, Bishop Dewane said that the Senate would need an acceptable health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act if they voted to repeal the ACA.

He said that “in the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement.”

“Yet,” he said, “reform is still needed to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability.” The bishops had previously said that funding of abortion coverage in plans offered on the exchanges, as well as lack of coverage for immigrants, were among their concerns with the Affordable Care Act and their reasons for ultimately not supporting its passage.

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Kathmandu, July 24

The authorities responsible for repairing roads today told Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba that they had completed 58 per cent of their job.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had directed the authorities concerned to fix roads in the Capital after schoolgirl Binita Phuyal drowned in a rain filled pit at Nepaltar and another schoolgirl Satya Sapkota fell into a pit in Samakhushi. Luckily Sapkota was rescued by locals.

Mukunda Parajuli, who heads Division II of the Department of Roads, said his office had filled pits on the roads in   Jamal, Maitidevi, Gyaneshwor and Lazimpat. “We are also cleaning drain pipes, and laying gravel, besides filling pits,” Parajuli added. He said his office would carry out repair work in Putalisadak, Panipokhari, Chabahil and Gaucharan area tomorrow.

DoR faces difficulties in repairing roads in Chabahil and Chuchhepati areas, as Melamchi Water Supply Project continues to lay drinking water pipes along the road. “The pits on these stretches of roads will be filled by the project itself, after they are done with laying pipes” Parajuli said.

According to the Prime Minister’s Press Coordinator Govinda Pariyar, the authorities have reported to the PM’s Office that they filled more than half of the pits around Kathmandu days before the 15-day deadline ends. As per the report submitted to the PM’s Office, the authorities concerned fixed all  the potholes on the Dolahiti-  Khumaltar road (800 metres) road section and Ram Mandir to Battisputali road (1.1 kilometre). Likewise 80 per cent repair work has been completed on the New Baneswor-Old Baneswor roads and Jain Bhawan-Gyaneswor-Ratopul roads. The authorities concerned have filled 60 per cent of the pits on the Chabahil-Dhobikhola road.

However, 50 per cent repair work has been completed   in Chabahil Chowk area.

According to Giri Bahadur Sunar, Resettlement Expert of Melamchi Water Project, the unavailability of gravel is hampering the project from filling pits on the roads from Chabahil to Jorpati.  Similarly 30 per cent of  pit-filling on the Baneswor-Tinkune (Service lane) has been completed.

The post Fifty-eight per cent road repair work over appeared first on The Himalayan Times.

Nepali Congress Central Working Committee meeting

Nepali Congress leaders participating in the party’s Central Working Committee meeting at the central office in Sanepa, Lalitpur, on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Photo: RSS

Kathmandu, July 24

The Central Working Committee of the Nepali Congress has decided to put the constitution amendment bill to vote without waiting for parties’ support.

“We’ll no longer wait for other parties’ support for the constitution amendment bill,” NC CWC member Keshav Kumar Budhathoki told this daily after the CWC meeting ended today.

He said the party decided to put the amendment bill to vote to demonstrate that it was sincerely trying to address the concerns of Madhesis.

The CPN-UML and some fringe parties continue to oppose the bill. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party, which has 35 lawmakers in the Parliament and whose support for the bill can be crucial, has also not made it clear whether or not it will support the bill. Some lawmakers of the RPP, however, have said that they will not vote for the bill. The Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government had withdrawn the first constitution amendment bill and registered the second constitution amendment bill on April 11.

According to another CWC member, Ambika Basnet, the party also decided to urge the government to add 22 local levels in Tarai districts as proposed by the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government.

The party also decided to probe allegations of sabotage during the first and second phases of local polls. The party will form a committee to probe cases of sabotage and take action against saboteurs who engineered loss of the party’s candidates.


The post NC to put amendment bill to vote appeared first on The Himalayan Times.

Kathmandu, July 24

Aaju Tamang, 14, of Siraha is getting her right eye operated this week. When she was 14 months old, the centre of her pupil appeared white when the light shone on it. Her parents took her to the hospital and she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (eye cancer).

Her mother Ambika Shrestha Tamang informed THT that doctors recommended surgery for her right eye so that her left eye could be saved. “We immediately got her eye operated at Nepal Eye Hospital, Tripureswor. Now she can only see with her left eye. We wanted her to see as normal girls do, so we came to Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Kathmandu, to get her an artificial eye though she wouldn’t be able to see with it,” she said.

Similarly, four-year-old Reli Limbu from Morang had surgery of her right eye and kept an artificial eye yesterday. Aarati Limbu, Reli’s mother, said her daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when she was one-and-a-half-year old.  Along with surgery of the tumor, she had an artificial eye fixed on the right side. This artificial eye seems much larger than her normal eye. Her mother informed that Reli has still not been able to return to school.

Children diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eye, tend to develop and die of second primary cancers in childhood. Infants and two-year-olds have been diagnosed with retinoblastoma.

“One child among 20,000 has been diagnosed with this kind of tumour. Retinoblasty accounts for five per cent of all kinds of cancer diagnosed among children,” said Dr Ben Limbu, Oculoplasty Surgeon at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.

He informed that in the hospital 20 to 30 per cent children have been diagnosed with retinoblastoma till now, while 60 to 70 per cent children have to get surgery of the eye. “Retinoblastoma leads to blindness if timely treatment is not given. Not only the eyes, but it also spreads to other parts of the body. If diagnosed timely, it can be treated safely.”

The symptoms of the diseases are appearance of white colour at the centre of the pupil when light is shone on the eye, eyes that appear to be looking in different directions, redness of eye and swelling of eyes.

“Gene mutations that increase the risk of retinoblastoma and other cancers can be passed from parents to children. Hereditary retinoblastoma is passed from parents to children in a DNA, which means only one parent needs a single copy of the mutated gene to pass the increased risk of retinoblastoma on to the children. If one parent carries a mutated gene, each child has fifty per cent chance of inheriting that gene.” Dr Ben said the disease seems to be more prevalent among Muslims and the Tamang Community, where marriage among relatives is practised more than in other communities.


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Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Jul 24, 2017 / 05:11 pm (CNA).- When Matt Hohler was in college in 2010, he was a reluctant Catholic - and not a coffee drinker. 

That year, his mom gave him a trip to a college Catholic conference as a Christmas gift. It was a conference with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which annually draws several thousands of college students seeking to know more about their faith. 

Hohler was not thrilled. 

“I remember being a bit sour about it,” he told CNA. “I remember thinking I don’t really wanna go, I thought it wasn’t cool.” 

But he went anyway, had a great time, and came back with a pull on his heart to go on a FOCUS mission trip to Honduras, “even though I remember not even knowing where Honduras was at the time,” he recalled. 

He signed up for the trip, and the week he spent with FOCUS teaching catechesis in Honduras “was mind-bending to say the least.” 

What struck him most was the Honduras people’s extreme generosity amidst the experience of extreme poverty. 

“They just gave everything they had, and they had nothing,” Hohler said.

That fascination with Honduras and desire to help those in need continued to grow, and eventually Hohler returned for a year to volunteer as an English teacher, a job he found through a connection from the trip. 

That year, he came home for Christmas break and was hanging out at grandma’s house before the rest of the family arrived.  

While they waited, Hohler’s grandmother pulled him into a hallway, where there had been a statue of the Virgin Mary for as long as Hohler could remember. 

“She said, ‘There have been times in our lives where I swear we didn’t have enough money, and we put money under the statue of Mary, and we’d come back and there would be more money than before,’” Hohler recalled. 

She told him to always remember to put God first, and handed her grandson $1,000 with simple instructions: “Go do something good with it.” 

When he returned to Honduras, the search for that “something good” led Hohler to Sr. Maria, a Catholic nun who has dedicated her life to serving her community near Lake Yojoa, Honduras. Her nutrition-focused organization, Casa de Angeles, provides 100+ children at risk of malnutrition with lunches every day throughout the school year. 

As Hohler spent time with Sr. Maria and the children, he realized that many of the kids’ impoverished families were coffee farmers, who were still making insufficient wages despite promises of markups after their coffee gained labels like “organic” and “fair-trade.” (He also started to drink, and love, coffee.)

Hohler, along with like-minded friend Robert Durrette, decided to do what they could to get a fairer wage for small-scale coffee farmers in Central and South America. And that’s how coffee start-up Levanta Coffee began. 

Taken from the Spanish reflexive verb “levantarse,” Levanta means to wake up, but it can also mean to rise up. 

“By waking up each morning with a cup of Levanta Coffee, you’re giving hard-working coffee farmers from Honduras and Peru the opportunity to lift themselves up economically,” the businesses’ Kickstarter page explains. 

The business model of Levanta cuts out nearly all of the middlemen involved in the process of most coffee sales – including fair trade coffee – that takes away from the profits that actually end up in farmers’ hands. 

“We too used to think that ‘Fair Trade’ was the best way to support small scale farmers. We sipped our coffee believing we were helping farmers like Daniel and Rosa earn a good living. Problem is, that just wasn't true,” Hohler and Durette explain on their Kickstarter. 

“‘Fair trade’ offers 20 cents more per pound of coffee, but very little of that extra money actually makes it back to small-scale farmers. Although they had been promised higher prices and better returns on their hard work, many coffee farmers are still struggling to put food on the table. In the best-case scenario, farmers might get a few hundred extra dollars per year. This translates into an income of $2,000-$4,000 a year for the average farmer who is often providing for a family of 4-6 people,” they noted. 

The Levanta model will provide a 50 percent higher payment that will end up directly in the hands of the small-scale coffee farmers in both Honduras and Peru, where the pair has launched their startup. 

“Essentially what we’re doing is taking a page out of what a lot of humanitarian aid is doing now, in terms of direct transfers. Rather than investing in aid in terms of professionals or food, or whatever it be, a lot of studies have found that just by giving them more cash and allowing them to make their own decisions, it’s actually allowing for more and more development,” Hohler explained.

In exchange, Levanta Coffee asks their farmers to share their personal stories with coffee drinkers around the world. 

Co-founder Robert Durrette said he believes “the stories of the farmers we have partnered with is crucial to sparking change in the coffee industry. You will learn about their hardships and struggles, but also their successes – all while we deliver you better coffee.”

“It gives you the opportunity to look at the coffee you drink in a more personal way, and you’ll know exactly how this is being impactful,” Hohler said. “We’ll be following up year after year, making sure it’s the right model, being really transparent and really inviting people into this story so they can experience it.” 

The pair launched their Kickstarter on July 18th, and have already seen great results, with $32,348 of their $35,000 goal having been raised at the time this article was written. If they make their stretch goal of $50,000, they can partner with a third coffee producer. 

It hasn’t always been easy – Hohler said he was questioned by several well-meaning friends and family about when he would “get a real job.” But he’s stuck to his decision, saying that he feels it’s a call from God to put his faith into action. 

“The thing I wanted to do with my faith was to show it through action, and be an example of my faith in the way that I live, creating good in the way I live my life rather than telling someone what they should be doing,” he said. 

“Evangelization through action is what I wanted to do.” 

Learn more about Levanta Coffee, and the coffee farmers involved, on their Kickstarter page or by following them on Instagram or Facebook.

Kathmandu, July 24

Nepal has become the topmost country in the entire South Asia region in terms of the number of expectant mothers choosing delivery in health facilities.

Nepal, which has been a member of the Global White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood since 2009, took significant strides in the mother and child care campaign after the government accorded high priority to these programmes, making sure that many pregnant women benefited from modern delivery facilities and available maternity services.

According to Secretary at the Ministry of Health Prof Kiran Regmi, around 60 per cent pregnant women have been recorded to have availed safe delivery and maternity services from birthing centres.

Regmi noted that the percentage is the highest benchmark among other countries in the South Asia Region.

The Ministry has been providing free services in reproductive health care, including uterine prolapse.

The maternal mortality rate in Nepal has fallen to 134 per 100,000 pregnant women and new mothers, while the child mortality rate stands at 21 per 1,000 live births.

The ministry is currently implementing an ambitious programme to reduce maternity mortality to 90 and infant mortality rate to nil.

Meanwhile, worldwide discussions have started on the initiatives taken by Nepal to reduce child and maternal mortality rates.

A four-day global meeting on Safe Motherhood organised by Safe Motherhood Network Federation of Nepal began here today.

Representatives of 16 countries including from South Asia are participating in the meeting. Representatives of the countries associated with Global White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, an international organisation established for safe motherhood, will review the programmes related to safe motherhood run in their respective countries in the meeting.

Inaugurating the meeting, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said that the constitution has guaranteed quality health services as a fundamental right.

He expressed the belief that it would bring remarkable improvement in access of general people to healthcare services.

Saying that programmes launched by the government were focused on achieving sustainable development goals related to health, the prime minister said that the health ministry had primarily paid attention to achieve the goals related to safe motherhood.

The PM added, “Rural women in Nepal still have  less access to safe motherhood and this problem must be addressed collectively to control maternal deaths and child mortality in the country.”

Giving his views about the political developments in the country, he said the two rounds of local-level elections concluded recently proved a milestone in the empowerment of women, he said he was hopeful that such empowerment would help improve women’s economic, social and political status at the grassroots level while guaranteeing safe motherhood.

He was for connecting safe motherhood programmes to safe health system while carrying out restructuring of health sector at the local-level.

Health Ministry Secretary Regmi said the ministry was focused on achieving sustainable development goals relating to safe motherhood.

SMNF President Arzu Rana Deuba said though Nepal of late witnessed a remarkable progress in the area of safe motherhood, the status of rural women had not changed much. On the occasion, she took the opportunity to demand that the government pass a bill relating to safe motherhood.

SMNF Vice-President Bishnu Raj Nepal said participating countries and WHO representatives in the meeting would share work experiences related to safe motherhood while preparing a future work strategy.

The SMNF was established in 1996. It has worked on planning and implementing awareness and advocacy programmes related to safe motherhood and proper care of newborn babies.


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Kathmandu, July 24

Former health minister Gagan Kumar Thapa said public hospitals were established to provide better and easily available treatment to all the citizens, especially the underprivileged, poor classes.

Speaking at a donation handover programme organised at Trauma Centre today, he said that each and every health facility should be available and affordable to citizens. It is their right to avail health services, so public hospitals must maintain the quality of health services.

Shail Kumar Upadhyay and Karen Bass trust was established at the National Trauma Centre to provide treatment to cancer patients of National Trauma Centre and medication for Chemotherapy for patients of Bir Hospital.

Bidusi Rana, niece of Shail Kumar Upadhyay, a former diplomat, who died because of cancer, handed over Rs 3.5 million to former minister Gagan Kumar Thapa. The trust will remain in the name of the couple Shail Kumar Upadhyay and Karen Bass.

Rana informed that the fund collected in the trust was saved in the bank and the interest generated from the trust would be utilised to provide health services to cancer patients.

Dr Ganesh Gurung, Chancellor of National Academy for Medical Science said, “We have been providing services from available resources but it is not enough for this kind of central hospital. Many underprivileged, abandoned, helpless people come every day to the hospital.


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Kathmandu, July 24

The Office of Kirtipur Municipality has launched a budget of Rs 840 million for fiscal year 2017-18.

According to the municipality office, along with the budget, regular salary has been allocated to the mayor, deputy mayor and ward chairmen. The mayor and deputy mayor will draw Rs 35,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively and ward chairmen will draw Rs 18,000 monthly salary. Similarly, allowance was fixed for ward members at Rs 5000 for five meetings.

According to the municipal office, Rs 1.5 million has been allocated for the management of stray dogs. Though it has allocated a budget for the management of stray dogs, there is no mention how these canines will be managed.

Similarly, the municipality is planning to make Kirtipur a free WiFi zone and for this a total budget of Rs 200,000 has been allocated.


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Director of the mosque says move does not fulfill Muslims' demands as security cameras remain in place.