Jim's trek of the Himalayas in 1989
Jim Webber transporting rugs in India, 1986.
Through an agreement with Nepal's Public Health Concern Trust (PHECT), the Nepal Cleft and Burn Center secured land for a fifteen-bed teaching hospital near Ring Road in Kathmandu. PHECT will also manage the hospital's operations.
Construction commenced in August 2008 with a traditional Nepali blessing at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Caring donors have given more than $750,000 to build Nepal's first teaching hospital for reconstructive surgery. The project is the brainchild of an American who came up with the idea while pursuing a very different calling as a retailer of fine textiles.
Shortly after graduating from college, Jim Webber embarked on a career selling Oriental rugs. To secure the finest merchandise at the best prices, he decided to travel overseas and buy directly from manufacturers. In 1985, he made his first trip to India and Pakistan with minimal resources. Lacking trade contacts, translators, or even solid information on where to find the products he sought, Jim successfully navigated the Eastern trading markets and established a firm reputation in the industry. It would not be the first time that boldness, persistence, and luck changed Jim's life.
During a trip to India in 1989, Jim detoured to Nepal for a trek in the Himalayas. By chance, he met a family of Tibetan refugees who, like many of their countrymen, had fled their homeland. Along with a few belongings, they brought with them the knowledge of Tibet's traditional rug making techniques. Years later, Jim and the Tibetan refugees formed their own company and opened a carpet factory in Kathmandu.
Part of the new company's mission was to serve the local community, and Jim chose to focus on improving medical care for the people of Nepal, especially those in remote, rural areas. By working with Interplast (now Resurge), a humanitarian organization that sends surgical teams to perform reconstructive procedures, Jim's company funded Nepal's first speech therapy program.
Seeing the effect that rehabilitation had on patients' quality of life, Jim began to wonder how he could help build a future of heath care self-reliance for the people of Nepal. With the support of other rug importers and private donors, he established the Nepal Cleft & Burn Center in 2002. Its mission: To build Nepal's first teaching hospital specializing in deformity-correcting reconstructive surgery.
Thanks to private contributions, carpet industry support, volunteer service, and land donation from Nepal's Public Health Concern Trust (PHECT), the organization was able to start construction on the hospital. As part of a new health services complex in the Kathmandu Valley, the Center will be staffed by Nepali physicians. Among the members is Dr. Shankar Rai, recipient of the Nathan Davis Award for Humanitarian Service from the American Medical Association.
The Center's leadership is committed to building and equipping the facility in the most cost-effective manner possible. For example, partnership with Globus Relief, a Salt Lake City-based organization enables the Center to acquire hospital equipment at substantial savings.
The Center celebrated its grand opening March, 2014! Local government officials & celebrities, our team of Nepali physicians, executive director Jim Webber, members of our Board, as well as a small group of supporters & physicians from the U.S.A., attended the auspicious and joyful event.