Bir Bahadur Ghale is from the village of Barpak in the Gorkha district, with a population of approximately 6,000 people. Agriculture is the mainstay of the Barpak economy, and those males who do not pursue agriculture often join the armed forces of India, Singapore, and Britain (which once included service in Hong Kong). Bir Bahadur resolved from an early age to follow a different career path. He attended high school in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, but always aspired to return and contribute to the development of his hometown.
In 1986 Bir Bahadur went on a trip to Hong Kong. He was dazzled by the cosmopolitan city and noticed how vital an influence electricity had on the way of life there. Hong Kong was driven by electricity. The underground metro, the tramway, cable cars, elevators—almost everything was powered by electricity. He imagined how life in Hong Kong would change if electricity ceased to exist. The bustling city would tear apart. He thus realized that electricity is a critical commodity.
While working as a petty contractor for the construction of a highway in 1989, Bir Bahadur stopped by a village hotel, noticing to his surprise that in the middle of the mountains this hotel had working electric power. Investigating, he found that the energy came from a simple water turbine at a nearby mill. He thought of his home village, 1,900 meters high in the mountains, a two- to three-day walk from the nearest settlement. Without power, his neighbors lived a difficult life cut off from the basic amenities and infrastructure available to city residents. Facing many challenges, he built and established the 50-kilowatt micro-hydropower plant in his village in 1991. The plant was small, but it was enough to light all households in Barpak village. Since then, through combining demand-driven electricity generation with ropeway transportation, he has transformed the economy of the village. This process has provided new alternatives for the youth of his town, and for the future of rural communities in general.