A Dream that Never Died

Kathmandu : Ranked 52nd on the list of richest billionaires in the world, he is a world-famous American mathematician. Forbes magazine, which regularly updates the list of the world’s billionaires, estimated that he had a net worth of $20 billion dollars in the early months of 2018. He, along with his wife has been visiting Nepal in the interval of every two years in the past decade, venturing hikes through the hills of rural districts like Kalikot, Pyuthan, Myagdi and several more.

Abiding by the name Dr. James Harris Simons, a philanthropist by occupation, he is popularly referred by world as Jim Simons. On the verge of turning 80, Jim and his wife Marilyn Hawrys Simons tend to travel Nepal together. With all their fortunes and private jet, any lavish destination in the globe for them seems a possibility, still why they choose this tough expedition by feet through the hills of Nepal? Anyone who has ever heard of their journey contemplates the same question. It was only natural for us to be baffled with the same question too. From there, we began our quest with absolute motives to unleash the answer to this question, despite the fact of them being beyond our reach.

Whether it was Wikipedia or others sites on the internet, it distinctly informed that Jim never fancied the spotlight of popularity and rarely agreed for any interviews. One of his close associates and our foreign friend said that Simons thinks he would rather spend time teaching mathematics than interviewing himself. Although this seemed like a dead end, we continued our efforts.

With the help from executive director, Dr. Anil Bahadur Shrestha and senior program manager, Dr. Kashim Shah of Nick Simons Institution (NSI), we relayed our proposal. And only after knowing about the health newspaper did the Billionaire couple accept our interview. The sole reason behind Mr. and Mrs. Simons affirmative reply was their late son Nick Simons, and his emotional attachment with the health sector of Nepal. The Health Newsier took the interview of the star couple at Soaltee Hotel which lasted for an hour.

The Stirring Connection

Unraveling the mystery of connection of Simons with Nepal, we found out that Nick’s unfinished dream is what drove them here. Nick Simons, the son of James Harrison Simons and Marylin Simons, was an American doctor who came to Nepal 16 years ago in 2002. 22-year-old Nick was here for his work-related reasons and regardless of the cultural and language barrier, he actively participated for 9 months. When he returned back to New York, he told his parents that it would not be strange if he had spent the rest of his life in Nepal, says Marylyn Simons, his beloved mother. His undying love towards Nepal and his devotion towards developing the health sector had become somewhat like a mission to accomplish for Nick.
However, while swimming in Bali of Indonesia’s in 2003, death drifted him away from his parents and this world. Even though Nick died, Mr. and Mrs. Simons decided to keep his dream alive. Mrs. Simons continues, “Whose parents would not want to fulfill their child’s dream?” After a thorough research by Simon’s family and their friends about the situation of Nepal, they decided to invest and establish NSI in loving memory of their dearly son.

The Undying Vision

Nick Simons Institutes (NSI) extends across 18 districts in our country. Simon’s family firstly came across American Doctor Mark Jimmerman who had been keenly working in Nepal. Through him they provided financial aid to Patan hospital, Lalitpur. Understanding their line of thought, Dr. Jimmerman started inspecting the conditions of rural premises of Nepal hearing out what villagers had to say. When asked about their outmost need, majority of them answered ‘DOCTORS’.

Health posts with no proper facilities and doctors are the common scenarios witnessed in the village side of Nepal. So as to combat these problems, doctors with Master Degree in General Practitioner (MDGP) were the ultimate solution. Thus, scholarship was provided to the deserving candidate who would later be sent to a particular district that was in need of doctor. Initially, the scholarship was provided to only one student, leading up to 3 students and currently, 75 of them.

Dr. Kashim Shah, who is among the ones to receive scholarship from this progressive program, recalls that although Nick had died, Simon’s couple continually emphasized on giving birth to other Nicks through this scheme. After acknowledging such innovative vision, we used to study and work relentlessly, says Dr. Shah. Up Till now we have provided health services and doctors to 18 districts, confirms the doctor.
There are better future plans and more medical services that we are concentrating on, says the executive director Dr. Anil B. Shrestha. Dr. Shrestha also proclaims that if the number of manpower is increased, then as a corresponding effect their services will increase as well. He further explains about the annual meet where 84 hospitals participate under the administration of Nepal Government and Ministry of Health (MoH), where workshops, trainings and flow up takes place.

Past a decade, More to go.

For nine years, as its mission is to innovate solutions in rural healthcare –through training and hospital support– and to advocate for their scale up with the government of Nepal, Nick Simons Institutes (NSI) has consistently been assembling medical workers for planning the solutions required in the field of health sector of Nepal. It has also conducted projects which disseminates information regarding new programmes and technologies used in this domain, said Dr. Shrestha. Regardless of their major achievements, NSI is constantly striving for the better health of public citizens in rural areas, and believes that more health facilities are yet to be attained. Through NSI, the dream of Nick Simons continues to live. 

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