HELP was founded in 2002 by Jim Coleman who has had close connections with the Himalayas for more than 40 years. We are all volunteers, so the money we receive goes towards our charitable activities, not salaries. Here is the HELP team:
In 2003 Simon went on the first HELP assignment to a small village school in Sikkim. A career as a software developer up to that date barely prepared him for the assignment, but the experience was to be life-changing, and led to a masters degree in teaching and work on projects in schools of northern India and Nepal through the next six years.
Today Simon lives with his wife, children, chickens, fish and cat in the hills district of Sydney, Australia, but continues to dream of the Himalayas and his next adventure.
At the beginning of 2023 Simon accepted a directorship role at HELP as Jim sought to step down from the lead role of the charity he had founded and run for 20 years. Simon and Barbara Porter continue to be guided by Jim, and build on his work providing foundational support for the schools and families in the poorest regions of the Himalayas.
Director (Volunteer Programme)
Barbara Porter has had a long career in education, beginning with 16 years as a schoolteacher in Newcastle upon Tyne and Northumberland (England). She then lived and worked as an EFL teacher in Greece. Following that, Barbara settled in Scotland and was the Iona Community programme worker on the Hebridean island of Iona, and then for one year co-managed a residential peace centre near Dunblane. Since 1998 she has worked for the University of Edinburgh, initially as an EFL teacher and for the last 15 years as an administrator supporting the university’s programmes for international students.
Barbara first worked for HELP as a volunteer teacher in Sikkim in 2005 and has since run teacher-training seminars in Nepal, and in Sikkim, West Bengal and Ladakh in India. Barbara joined the Board of HELP in 2006 and took over the administration of the Volunteer Programme in October 2014.
As a young man, Jim spent two years as a UNA volunteer in Kathmandu, based in the UNDP office, and has made many visits to the Himalayas since then.
Since his subsequent career was in education, both as a teacher, and as an education manager with the British Council, he decided, as he approached retirement, that the way in which he could best make a contribution to the people of the Himalayas, who mean so much to him, was by establishing an organisation that would channel resources, both human and financial, directly to schools and orphanages.
At the end of 2022 Jim handed over HELP leadership to Simon Forwood and Barbara Porter, but remains on in an advisory and support capacity.
Master of the Moon
Jim has written a novel called ‘Master of the Moon’ drawing on his experiences as a UN volunteer in Kathmandu during its hippy heyday at the end of the 60s. Mixing autobiography, travelogue, philosophy, and fiction, Master of the Moon has something for everyone, particularly for those of you thinking of visiting the Himalayas as tourists or volunteers, who want to know more about the cultures and religions of the region.
Happy reading! And it would be very helpful if you could write a review of the novel on Amazon to attract a wider audience.