Throughout September, a group of passionate Adara supporters have been trekking through Nepal, with the sole purpose of raising funds for Adara’s work on the ground. They have visited Adara project sites, trekked through lush vegetation and walked up more steps than they can possibly count. Above all, they have been invigorated by the work Adara does in the beautiful country of Nepal. Here are some of their stories.
Thursday 21st September – Karen Gonsalves
Today we all arrived in Kathmandu and connected over a late lunch at the Park Village Hotel. Shortly thereafter, we were in a van on our way to visit the oldest Hindu Temple in Kathmandu. While there, we witnessed the Hindu ceremony of open air cremation of the dead. It was a surreal experience and a sign of the many ways our cultural norms would be challenged as we embarked on our Nepali journey. On a lighter note, the monkeys living and playing at the temple were a great source of entertainment, particularly the babies clinging from their mother’s bellies!
Next stop was a visit to one of the largest stupas in the world. We walked around the base, stopped at a few stores, and then made our way to dinner. Tired, but feeling the energy of our diverse group, united in our common support of Adara, we drove back to the hotel, chatting about the next day’s activities.
Friday 22nd September - Paul Konyecsni
Today was filled with so many emotions. I had read about Adara’s work in Ghyangfedi before the trip and had built somewhat of an expectation. To be honest, nothing can truly prepare you for the contradictions to be witnessed.
The contradictions between the indescribable beauty throughout the hills, valleys, rivers and falls and the logistical challenges they bring to day to day living. The contradictions between the daily struggles and the pride and enthusiasm exhorted by the villagers. The highlight of the day, without a doubt, was the warm reception we received from the students at the brand new Ghyangfedi School upon arrival. The warmth of the students and villagers present captured the impact of the school and Adara’s work for this community.
Saturday 23rd September - Mike Sowa
We started the day to the sounds of the Ghyangfedi villagers speaking in their native tongue and going about their morning routines. We enjoyed a great evening the night before with plenty of hot Riksa in the kitchen with Pralhad!
By 8AM, many of the children from the school joined us for a hike up and up and up to the villages of Upra and finally Ghywer. All the villagers welcomed us with bright smiles and “Namaste!”
Up and down in 3 hours and 4.5k with 600m of elevation! The views were incredible as we walked on the edge and then over a cable bridge above the raging river. We saw many waterfalls cascading for hundreds of metres through the thick and lush green forests. This is the region of the endangered Red Panda. We looked but did not find one of these small, shy and very cute animals. Our trek was along the same route as the daily commute of some students. Some travel up to 2 hours each way to school. What a commute! The trek also allowed the kids to practice their English and helped us to keep up with them. This is also the region that suffered significant earthquake damage from the major 2015 quake and aftershocks. We saw evidence of damage and also reconstruction, which was exemplified by the school in Ghyangfedi. After a hearty lunch with the children, we received white scarfs on our departure and then trekked out through Seljung, Negi and then to Ketung where we met our 4×4′s for the difficult and dusty five hour adventure back to Kathmandu!
Sunday 24th September - Andrew O’Brien
“Namaste,” he said, hands clasped in front of his chest.
“Namaste,” we reply in a clumsy chorus.
This is a beautiful greeting that is becoming increasingly natural the more time we spend amongst our Nepalese hosts for the day around Kathmandu. Today we visited three of Adara’s partner organisations in Kathmandu: the Himalayan Medical Foundation, Hands in Outreach and Women’s Foundation.
The day started with a trip to the Himalayan Medical Foundation (HMF), which runs 4 clinics round Kathmandu. Adara provides the salaries for staff and dental and medical services, all of which operate in severely under-privileged areas. Here, we learnt of how they helped support the mobile medical services during the 2015 earthquake in Gyangfedhi and the recent Monsoon floods. Their fantastic work helps around 10,000 people every year (and for free!)
Next we were off to the Women’s Foundation, which provides legal support to vulnerable women and children who are victims of domestic violence, trafficking and sexual abuse. Adara helps pay the legal fees for the lawyer who supports the foundation.
Here, 40 women and 100 kids call the shelter home and the women make clothes to support their families. As our host said, “To buy one scarf means to give women one day fair work.” For these women, this independence is everything,
The last partner organisation we visited for the day was Hands in Outreach (HIO), who support girls in Kathmandu to go to school. Currently, they support 150 underprivileged girls, in different schools and from different backgrounds. It’s saddening to learn that in Nepal there has traditionally been low investment in girls. Luckily, this is slowly changing, with the help of HIO and Adara. We were given the opportunity to go to one of the schools and see the smiling faces off all the children. It was so humbling to see the kids in the classrooms. The school was like an oasis of peace amongst the chaos of the city. You could see how happy and at home the girls were, away from the slums of Kathmandu.
“Namaste,” they chanted as we entered the classrooms.
“Namaste,” we chanted back.
Away from a family life that is tough and hard for us to fully appreciate, it was moving to see their smiles and hear their laughter. Seeing first-hand how our donations are having a positive impact on the girls’ lives once again renews my commitment to Adara. This reminds me exactly why we are trekking.
Monday 25th September - Pamela Barit Nolan
The alarm goes off at 5:30 am.
It is time to try to put some order into Room 211 at the Park Village Hotel. As we have been in Nepal for a couple of weeks, coming and going, this room is beginning to feel like home.
Derek arrived yesterday so the trek group is now complete. Eight passionate people climbing for kids.
Bags packed and sorted, 18 people clamber onto the bus to begin our drive to Pokhara. Depending on traffic it will be 5-8 hours.
Robert Zuill comes to say goodbye as he heads back to Bermuda today. He has spent 5 weeks filming all of Adara’s programmes in Nepal.
We have our full crew of guides and porters on the bus as they had come into Kathmandu for the Daishan holiday. Tom from Charity Challenge UK and Raj Nawaraj our Nepali guide, as well as several others that we have yet to meet. The traffic is pretty bad and the bus is warm but there is a level of anticipation in our crew.
I engage Raj in conversation. I learn he has a brother and sister and that he is from Eastern Nepal. He has been trekking for 20 years, having started as a Porter and then taking his guiding training. He is married and has three children – 2 girls and a boy. They are all in school. We look at photos together and enjoy getting to know each other a bit.
Two and half hours in we make our first stop. It is hotter in the bus than out. Trucks roar along the road as it is the main road to India and China. Dust is everywhere…3 more hours is the guess. As we trundle along the road my mind wonders about the people. How they live and survive, but as it is a main highway I guess they all survive as the trucks that rumble by stop for supplies. The dust is constant. The truck horns play a variety of tunes and I get lost in an episode of Heartland on my iPad. We stop around noon for lunch at a mobbed road side truck stop.
We are back on the road by 12:45. Three hours more to go….oh how I wish we had flown….I can’t imagine this is safer than flying but it does allow us to see the county and it is really hot too as the AC on the bus seems lacking or non-existent. But it is about the journey and in good Buddhist fashion I should stay present and enjoy what is offered by this day.
It is 3pm and we make another stop. The enthusiasm is waning, it is hot and we are all tired. We are taking a break to introduce the group as that did not happen this morning.
A plot hatches to fly back to Kathmandu at the end of the trek. Stay tuned.
It is 5pm and we seem to be getting closer. We are all dusty and hot and aching for a shower.
Finally we arrive at our hotel. Unfortunately I have developed a bit of a cold. We rest, and then have dinner. Tom gives us a briefing for tomorrow and we close the day, setting our alarm for 5:15am to start our hardest day of the trek.
It’s a beautiful country and a challenging country. We have much to learn and understand.
Tuesday 26th September - Derek Stapley
Onwards and ever upwards…
What a fantastic day of trekking in the gorgeous surroundings, with large stone steps (3,200 of them!) taking us up to the heavens. There was lots of laughter, great teamwork and bonding between this lovely bunch of people. I recall the gasps of excitement at the first glimpse of the magnificent Annapurna’s peeking ever so briefly through the clouds, before squeals of horror at an unexpected leech attack during a bush toilet visit.
We had cups of delicious ginger tea, mixed with local honey and then a very pleasant lunch enjoyed while overlooking the surrounding hills and valleys. We also met beautiful, friendly Nepalese people all along the trail.
Later there were even more steps(!), incredible Nepalese porters carrying bags bigger than themselves, and well-earned cold beers at the end of a longish day. As always, the day ended with the pleasant ache of bones and muscles, and a hot shower to die for.
At 6AM a new dawn beckons with an early hike to see the sun rise over Poon Hill followed by another day of trekking… with not a stone step to be seen…
How fortunate are we to live the lives we do?
Thanks to the Adara businesses funding all of our administration and core support costs, 100% of all donations will go directly to support projects on the ground.
If you would like to donate to the trekkers’ efforts, you can do so here