Our History, Mission and Philosophy
Ten Friends began when two Sisters High School teachers (Mark LaMont and Rand Runco) and eight of their friends spent the summer of 2006 in Nepal. Inspired by both the people they met and the communities they encountered, they returned to the US that fall asking themselves what they could do? Thanks to the encouragement and support of friends and many generous donors, Ten Friends was launched and it has grown and evolved over the years, now engaging hundreds of people from countries around the world.
In the beginning, Ten Friends founders traveled to Nepal most summers, sometimes taking high school students or friends as volunteers. Our very first project was delivering stretchers to villages along the trekking paths near Mt. Everest so that injured or sick villagers could be carried safely to hospitals. From that first project, other charitable opportunities arose and Ten Friends began supporting sanitation, literacy (libraries), sponsorship of orphanages and education.
One inspiring way to learn about Ten Friend's History is to view a Video that chronicles past activities, hear from individuals and volunteers who have been involved and hear from students who have benefited from our activities. Please take a few minutes to watch the video ; We promise it will be time well spent.
Meet Our Founders
Mark LaMont was born and raised in Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in business, and Eastern Oregon State with an MA in Education. He enjoys the outdoors and was a raft guide in the summertime during college. In 1993 he began teaching at Sisters Elementary, where he served for over 23 years. He also taught first grade in Tanzania for a year. Mark enjoys travelling and in 2004 he went trekking in Nepal with Rand Runco and 8 other friends. The following year Mark and Rand started Ten Friends, which initially provided water filters for orphanages and stretchers to isolated villages in Nepal. In time, it developed into supporting the Himalayan Education Center (HEC) and The Hopeful Home Orphanage (HHO). For many years Mark and Rand took high school students to Nepal, immersing them in the fascinating culture and including them in Ten Friends projects. In 2010 Mark spent 5 months in Nepal making connections and further establishing Ten Friends. He eventually travelled to Nepal over 15 times.
Rand Runco was born and raised in Central Oregon, growing up on a small farm outside of Sisters, Oregon. He graduated from Western Oregon State College (now University) in Education and has taught in the Sisters School District for over thirty years (teaching Physical Education and coaching for most of those years.) His first trip to Nepal was with Josh Udenson and Nurbu Sherpa in 2000, and Rand found the place he had always been looking for. Along with Sisters students, he designed and delivered several medical stretchers to remote regions in Nepal. This effort was met with success and positive feedback, and he returned to Nepal with Mark Lamont. Following this second visit, Mark instigated the idea of starting a non-profit organization to continue this work, and that was the beginning of Ten Friends. For many years the two would leave each summer and make their ‘summer’ home in Nepal, delivering medical stretchers in the mountains and putting in water filters in Kathmandu. Each year was characterized by constant learning and continual adjusting, adapting and creating projects. Rand is still teaching in Sisters and spends most free time with his five year old son Huck, working on the family farm and building a cabin while living in a yurt with his boy.
Meet the People in Nepal who Ten Friends works with
Ten Friends is fortunate have developed strong working relationships with key individuals who reside in Nepal. We rely on these individuals to operate the programs that we support and to help us in making decisions regarding how best we can utilize contributions from donors. View information on our Nepal program facilitators.
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