American Himalayan Foundation

San Francisco

Nov 1, 2011
Outside Magazine
American Himalayan Foundation

The American Himalayan Foundation works to keep young Nepali girls safe in school with their Stop Girl Trafficking project.    Photo: Bruce Moore

BY THE NUMBERS: 300,000 Nepalis, Tibetans, and Sherpas served by 140 education, health care, and human-welfare ­programs this year alone
WHO'S IN CHARGE: Erica Stone, 60, a University of California at Berkeley MBA and former documentary-film production manager who has trekked extensively in Nepal
WHAT IT DOES: The American Himalayan Foundation (AHF) was established 30 years ago when financier Richard Blum and a group of climbers and trekkers recognized threats to Himalayan culture from ­unstable governments and a lack of basic ­services. AHF supports local partners with the funding, ­technical ­assistance, and strategy advice they need. In 2010, the organization provided $3.3 million to these partners for projects in ­education, health care, and cultural preservation in ­Nepal, Tibet, and Tibetan refugee settlements in India. ­Projects range from establishing a hospital for disabled children in Kathmandu to training locals in the Nepali region of Mustang to preserve 15th-century Buddhist temples. One notable ­current issue: an education-based prevention program ­fighting human traffickers, who lure as many as 20,000 rural ­Nepali girls into prostitution or ­oppressive ­domestic-servant jobs each year. Board member Jon Krakauer has donated 100 percent of the proceeds from his 2011 e-book “Three Cups of ­Deceit”—an ­investigation into the practices of ­Central Asia ­Institute founder Greg ­Mortenson—to the ­foundation’s anti-trafficking ­program, which sponsors the girls’ schooling and has assisted more than 10,000 girls over the past 15 years.
EXTRA CREDIT: AHF is creative and committed; spending on programs is consistently high at more than 80 percent.
LOOKING AHEAD: One of AHF’s newest projects is the Tibetan Enterprise Fund, which offers grants and small loans to Tibetan refugees who have viable small-business and farming ideas.