What is CAN?
CAN is a mountaineers’ charity to help mountain people to help themselves raise their standard of living and strengthen indigenous, community-based culture.
Where does CAN function?
CAN operates mainly in the Middle Hill Regions of Nepal from where the majority of the porters originate. It is the porters who make it possible for walkers and climbers to enjoy the Peaks and Passes of Nepal.
How did it start?
The mountaineer who founded the charity is Doug Scott. He reached over 40 Himalayan summits, including Everest and Kangchenjunga, before taking an active interest in the welfare of the people who had, in effect, brought him relative fame.
Inspired by the philanthropic work of Mike Cheyney and his Sherpa Co-operative, Doug launched the Specialist Trekking Co-operative (STC) in 1989. STC was born out of anger at the dreadful conditions of labour in the trekking industry in the country where everything was left to market forces, where there was very little in the way of rule and regulation and nobody to enforce them anyway. The main ethos was simply to provide fair remuneration and adequate conditions for not only the local, permanent staff, but also for the porters.
In 1994 profits from the trekking company were first put into community work with additional donations from trekkers, mountaineers and mountain based trusts. This was at Ghunsa where a school was built and a Health Post established at the request of Tej Tamang, through the Irish mountaineer, Terry Mooney QC.
Doug took on many more projects (40), established the Registered Charity Community Action Nepal, re-named STC as Community Action Treks Ltd, (CAT) to more formally establish CAT as the trading arm of CAN. All this was done with the active, voluntary support of CAN’s Patron, Sir Chris Bonington, and the trustees at the time, Terry Mooney, Phil Hopkinson, Bob Wilson and Mike Harding.
CAN therefore grew organically and is far from being an artificial construct. In fact changes are made constantly to meet all the challenges of development in the sixth poorest country of the world. Doug sees himself as facilitator, being in the fortunate position since the successful Everest South West Face climb and crawling down the Ogre with broken legs, to influence positively the move towards responsible mountain tourism and supporting mountain communities – “without even getting my hands dirty.”
Doug Scott, CBE
Operations Director – Community Action Nepal
A message from our Patron – Sir Chris Bonington
I’d like to thank you for visiting Community Action Nepal’s website – it’s an amazing organisation, that’s done an incredible amount for the people of Nepal – which is one of the poorest nations on the planet. I’m very proud to be its patron.
I always knew that Doug Scott was a remarkable individual – that’s why I chose him for the first summit attempt on Everest in 1975 – but I stand in awe at what he’s achieved through Community Action Nepal. The reality is that climbing Everest doesn’t even come close to what he’s achieved, on behalf of others, when he founded this organisation. Not only has CAN made a very real difference by improving the living conditions within many mountain communities, it’s also done a tremendous amount to help sustain the culture and support the values of a very remarkable people.
Now you’ve got this far, I’d encourage you to explore further and find out how you could perhaps get involved with or help the work of Doug and his team. I’m sure that, just as I have, you’ll find it a very rewarding experience.
Sir Chris Bonington
Patron – Community Action Nepal