Thursday, April 7, 2016

A return from our March 2016 trek



Weathered hands kneading the daily chapati flatbread....the early morning lighting of oil lamps and incense invoking blessings for the day to come.....leis of brilliant marigolds set against the backdrop of gray stone......kata scarves offered up with humility and gratitude.....the infectious rhythm of a familiar folk tune that unleashes a fleeting abandon of dance steps.....yak skin stools huddled around a fire.....the undiluted and silent darkness of the night sky. This is but a glimpse of the backdrop for The Himalayan Project.


We have just returned from a 2 week visit to the Khumbu, or Mount Everest, region of Nepal to assess the rebuilding of Chaurikharka village after the earthquakes of last spring and also to trek for a week through Sherpa communities high in the Himalayas. Accompanying me were 3 very intrepid travelers.......Janet Milkman, Executive Director of the Marion Institute, Ryan Wagner who is a board member of the Marion Institute, and Paul Sanson, a great friend and supporter of The Himalayan Project. This was the first return visit to the village of Chaurikharka after my journey there last July, on behalf of The Himalayan Project, to deliver the relief aid funds that many of you so compassionately contributed to. It was wonderful to “introduce” the community to other faces that are part of The Himalayan Project and Marion Institute family. I am happy to report that 99% of the village has been rebuilt and most people have put into place earthquake resistant building techniques. In honor of our visit, the entire community rallied for a celebratory dinner replete with Sherpa dancing, speeches and the requisite offerings of kata (silk) scarves. The “Women's Development Committee” had been busy with preparations in the week beforehand and the buffet table was groaning! Each family in the village had made a contribution to these festivities as a way of showing incredible gratitude for your generosity.


The school in Chaurikharka has been cobbled together to provide temporary classrooms and offices since the earthquake. The good news is that out of this natural disaster there has risen a group of energetic, educated young people who want to take the reins in the rebuilding of the school. They have used the volunteer services of both Japanese and Nepali engineers who have come up with a “master plan” not only for the school but also includes a facility which will become a community gathering resource in the future. The “master plan” features earthquake proof building techniques and materials. With great anticipation, The Hillary Trust out of New Zealand and the Swiss Naulekh Foundation have come on board with this undertaking and The Himalayan Project will be working collaboratively with them to raise the $700,000 needed.


The scholarship program is active and vibrant and we are always looking for new sponsors. It costs $350 a year to sponsor a child who otherwise wouldn't have the privilege of attending school. Education is certainly NOT a birthright in Nepal. If you are currently a sponsor I will be sending you an updated picture of your child very shortly.......they are growing up so quickly!


I hope spring has sprung wherever you are. The rhododendran trees, which can grow as tall as oak trees, were just beginning to bloom and new growth was abundant everywhere. Very soon the Sherpas will be celebrating their annual spring puja, Lapsang La, and the renewal of life surrounding them.





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