News From Basa Village, South of Everest

The photos in the previous post are of the Orphanage in Dadagaun Village, located in the foothills in Nepal. These are the children we assist when we travel there.

 

In 2013, we traveled to Basa Village because Jeff Rasely invited me to be on the board of his foundation to assist Basa. The goal is for Basa to be self-sustaining. Depending on how things shake out in Nepal, I’m planning to join Jeff’s group to trek to Basa again. We have staggeringly beautiful views of Everest and the surrounding giant mountains and trek through untouched country side.
Our main contact in Nepal, Niru Rai, Chairman of BVF-Nepal reports that Basa village has suffered catastrophic damage from the earthquake. So, the specific goal of this fundraising campaign will be to help re-build Basa and to restore the village school, hydro-electric system, water system, smokeless stoves and the other village infrastructures the BVF-USA has supported. We won’t distribute any funds until we can make a meaningful assessment of needs of the village and, as is our practice, our Board will be guided by our friends in Nepal to determe how we can best help the villagers of Basa.

GoFundMe account Link: http://www.gofundme.com/basanepal

Or, you can make donations direct to the Foundation.
Check payee: Basa Village Foundation
Mail care of: Jeff Rasley, 6422 Ralston Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220 For more information about Basa Village,

Below is Niru’s response to Jeff’s email letting him know we are raising money to help rebuild the village, so when you can let us know what is needed. We would like to help rebuild in ways that will
better protect the houses, and school in case of future earthquakes. If
any local engineers or experts are recommending how to make structures
stronger using local materials, we will want to report that to our
donors.

Dear Jeff, Namaste!
Thanks for your kind message.
I just checked again in Basa by phone and we can confirm that the School building is fine and no damage there.
Only the homes of the people have been damaged and destroyed.

Yes the water and electric system are also okay.

Depending on the fund and budget available we will have to plan for rebuilding Basa village in such a way that for future it can be safe in such or even worse condition of earthquakes. At the moment we haven’t planned or even thought how to rebuild the village in much safer way so, we will have to see the condition of all the homes in Basa and also how much fund we have etc then we can plan together something suitable. If you guys from there have any suggestion for how to make the homes more safer then kindly let us know, it will be very great to have your suggestions too.

Thank you very much for your so kind supports and help always.
best regards
Niru

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photos after earth quake from Dadagaun Orphanage

2015-04-29 10.44.55 2015-04-29 10.45.04 2015-04-29 10.45.53 2015-04-29 10.46.13 2015-04-29 10.43.25 2015-04-29 10.43.48image-950b09385a5ddbe436ff03aa1d83d6b0c823e3c2046e70fc59a7406db4c36cac-V 2015-04-29 10.54.14 2015-04-29 11.39.41 2015-04-29 10.48.52 2015-04-29 10.46.13 image-b2961725fb52d9188b75f52d4bc8c631538561a650f57d0a6e13431aa07016c2-V image-e1bdd67a65c074d7e8b992fdbad2d703230f3a92b9a2e30f0e436c623c5e0fae-V 2015-04-29 10.44.55 2015-04-29 10.54.14 2015-04-29 10.45.04 2015-04-29 10.45.53 2015-04-29 10.43.48 image-93ae0b8c2e0bb9a421bca4def7d7135097e1561e506b37a8a2ce52f84538d34b-V 2015-04-29 10.55.43 2015-04-29 11.33.19 2015-04-29 10.43.25 2015-04-29 11.25.59

Posted in Nepal Earthquake, philanthropic tourism, The Trek of Your Life, voluntourism, voluntourism in Nepal | Leave a comment

Small way to show support for Nepal

Dear Friends,
A small group just had dinner at Shangri La restaurant in Bethesda. Lok Tiwari, the owner spent some time with us talking about the situation in Nepal. He wanted me to tell you that if you visit Shangri La or Ghar E Kabob in Silver Spring, he will donate 30% of the bill will be donated to relief in Nepal. He is leaving for Nepal by mid week with a team of 80 Nepalese Americans to work in Nepal. They are partnering with UNICEF (since they are already working in Nepal) to buy medications, water, and emergency relief kits to help distribute since they speak the language and know their way around. He assures me that 100% of the money donated will be used in Nepal. Many of you have asked me where you can donate. I recommend his group. Here is his message and the link:
I REQUEST ALL NEPALI ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS IN THE USA TO MAKE A LARGE JOINT RELIEF COMMITTEE IN COORDINATION WITH NRN NCC OF USA FOR RELIEF EFFORTS.PLEASE SEND NAMES OF INTERESTED TO HELP AT Loktiwari@gmail.com
IN THE MEAN TIME PLEASE USE FOLLOWING:
NRN NCC OF USABANK OF AMERICA, ACCOUNT 4830 5531 9855
ROUTING NO 021 000 322
In addition, donation boxes have been set up at http://nrnnccusa.org/donation/ If you wish to obtain a receipt for tax deduction purposes, please send your bank-in slip @account@nrnnccusa.org

Lok Tiwari

Lok Tiwari

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Update on Oct. trips and Earth quake

Before the earthquake, I’d already decided my group would join Jeff Rasely’s group trekking to Basa Village in October. We plan to stay a few extra days to attend the Second Annual Benefit  concert for Dadagaun School. We are in a wait and see situation right now. Our help is needed more than ever because the orphanage needs to be rebuilt.  The kids are sleeping out under a couple tents given by the army but they are far from adequate. They  are ok for now but the situation will become more difficult as time passes.

One boy was under some falling rubble but was pulled out and was not seriously injured.The school appears to be remarkably unscathed from the outside.The school principal’s  home and it is badly cracked and unsafe. He will need to rebuild it. the same goes for several other of the village houses but remarkably others seem undamaged.

The quake really shook the Shivapuri hills…. I got the impression more than down on the flat areas of KTM but who knows. All three buildings at Shivapuri heights  (the lodge where we stay in the foothills above Kathmandu) have been damaged. The original Cottage seems to have been the least affected apart from most of the tiles having been shaken off. The little Cottage have suffered quite badly with serious cracks in the lounge area and a partial collapse of the verandah. The new house has suffered some bad cracks on the upper portion and will need some serious repair work before it can be deemed safe to live in again…. this is all of course assuming that there will be no more serious quakes or even tremors which seems to be affecting many of the buildings in KTM…. there is  fear that many more will collapse over time…Dadagaun 1

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Update, 2014 trip to Nepal and Music Program

Children playing their new instruments

Children playing their new instruments

Our music/dance program was more successful than anyone imagined it would be. While we were there we had a chance to get to know many of the musicians. They are the most gracious people we’ve ever met. Thanks to your generous donations ( which I carried with me to deposit directly into the school’s bank account.) 14 bansuris (flutes), 10 sarangis and four drums were purchased for the children we work with in Nepal. There was enough money to pay schools fees for 36 orphans. ($52/child/year)

The staff, children and group members are thrilled. High quality, beautifully made instruments were purchased directly from the artists below budget and retail cost. The music teacher hired to teach the children for one year, Arjune Chandaba, helped find some of the instruments, carved some of the sarangis himself and will help maintain them. We’re planning another concert in 2015 and hope the children can play for us.

Here is a link to see pictures and videos of our experience. You’ll see concert photos, Arjune sitting in the back of the truck with the instruments, several of us carrying them to the school through the village, the instruments and the children learning to use them. We had a fund raising concert and raised more money to contribute in case more instruments are needed. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7jnw2mrenelghno/AACHo41R-ZxN36uS9hroUHsxa?dl=0

So much enthusiasm and interest was generated the day before we left Nepal, several members in our group volunteered to do more fund raising for a private non-profit working with human traffic victims in Nepal. This was a big surprise for me. Since we’ve been back, we raised another $2,500 selling bracelets. As you’ve probably gathered by now, a little bit of money goes a very long way in Nepal!

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Music program & Fund Raising Concert for children in Nepal

Our next voluntourism group is going to Nepal October 21, 2014. We’re returning to volunteer in Dadagaun Village School and orphanage in the foothills surrounding Kathmandu. Enough money was raised to use Nepalese music and dance to enhance the school curriculum, improve academic success and attendance. Because of  generous donations these talented bright children will learn the value of Nepalese music, dance and art. In addition to buying instruments for them to play, we hope a music teacher will be hired to teach at the school twice a month for a year. Maybe other native teachers will begin to think they can have a career in music too!

We will buy:10 sarnagis (fiddles) , 10 bansuri (flutes), 10 madal (drums),10 morchunga (harps) for the children to use. Don’t miss the video on Crowdrise of the children and musicans we saw in Nepal last year. https://www.crowdrise.com/himilayanhighnotes/
A fund raising concert for the school is planned in Kathmandu. This is the flyer that was designed for us to use to advertise. DadadaGaun-Fundraiser-Poster

Posted in music, spirtual travel, The Trek of Your Life, volunteerism, voluntourism, voluntourism in Nepal | Leave a comment

Our next trip is close!

Students living in the orphanage

Students living in the orphanage

Little dancer

Little dancer

There are 8 people joining me for our fifth The Trek of Your Life voluntourism trip to Nepal. We’ll spend 3-4 days working in Dadagaun Village School and orphanage in the foothills surrounding Kathmandu. I raised enough money with crowdrise to buy Nepalese instruments and pay the salary for a music teacher to teach the children to enhance the school curriculum, improve academic success and attendance.
When I was in Nepal last year the children in Dadagaun Village were practicing Justin Bieber songs and dancing like him. It occurred to me that they may start to devalue Nepalese culture as they are exposed to more international traveler. There  is a video of the children, a grandmother and some musicians in Nepal on my website.

Every year, I meet more interesting people while I’m there. This year I hope to meet Donatella Lorch who is a friend of one of my old friends. Check out her blog!

On another note, just in case you need travel insurance, I came across this company:
http://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance/

I’ll keep you posted on my facebook page while we are in Nepal-that is if I don’t get totally immersed in the culture like I usually do!

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Our 5th Voluntourism trip to Nepal forming-Oct. 21-Nov. 1, 2014

This belated post contains brief highlights from our last trips in Nepal. Since I’ve been back, I’ve followed up on contacts made while I was there and started marketing for our next trip in 2012.

We used the same voluntourism itinerary we had in previous years. This post is about our service project in Dadagaun Village’s orphanage.  As usual, my group was apprehensive about visiting such a poor orphanage.  Our reservations evaporated instantly once we arrived and were welcomed warmly by the children and staff. We were included in their festival titled, Dasain.

Dasain is the longest and most favorite festival of Nepal. Everyone stays home with their families, all offices and schools are closed. The skies of Kathmandu are filled with Kites and the marketplaces are filled with farmers bringing their goats, buffaloes, ducks and chickens to sell. The animals are to be sacrificed on the night of ‘Kal Ratri’ to goddess Durga to celebrate her victory over evil. On the day of Dasami, everyone puts on new clothes and goes to honor their family elders, where they received large red ‘Tika’ of vermilion paste on their foreheads. In the following days of Dasain, families and friends unite, feasts are consumed, blessing is imparted and gifts are exchanged. Nepal’s most beloved festival ends with the full moon.

Children with new trash baskets to use in their home

Children with new trash baskets to use in their home

Neeru, did a wonderful job facilitating our time in the orphanage.  Two members of my group were teachers. After consulting with the  orphanage “parents” and Neeru, we used RESPECT as our theme.  Since the children were eager to practice speaking English with us, we used these opportunities to reinforce respecting yourself, each other and the environment was part of our message.  We all reinforced picking up trash,  hand washing, brushing their teeth, and taking care of their belongings as ways to show respect. We facilitated putting up signs, art projects and watched them sing and dance for us.

Neeru explained that there weren’t any files on the children. With her help and the help of the older children, we interviewed each child  to gather basic information about him/her.  Neeru took photos of each child to attach to the form and put the form in a folder for them. Prior to this visit, there was no record of them. At the end of our first day, Sandy said, “These children are happy and they have NOTHING.” “They are so respectful and love each other.”

During dinner one night, Steve introduced us to Cornelia Santschi, a neuropsychologist working at Columbia Hospital in New York City.   She delivered mattresses, new bedding, and teddy bears purchased with money she raised through her private non-profit, Anatta Out Reach. www.anattattoutreach.org.  She and Ramesh (the “father”) replaced the urine soaked, bed bug invested straw mattresses and bedding where the children slept.

New mattesses and bedding from Anatta Outreach

New mattesses and bedding from Anatta Outreach

After we finished our trek, we visited the orphanage again. What a change! Neeru framed and hung some of the art work the children did. The old broken tables and benches in the dining room were replaced by new ones. The frames from the old tables were used to store food products that had been on the ground before.

After saying good-bye to my first group, I welcomed the second group for our trek to Basa Village in the Solo Khumbu region of south of Everest. We hiked thru the richest farmland in the world, through small villages  and varied terrain with breath taking views of the Everest Range.

If you are interested in learning more about this trek, one of the trekkers, Barry Suskind took photos, tracked our trip on google earth and wrote a diary. Here is Barry’s note:

“After much delays and me being side tracked by so many other things going on, I’ve finally gotten the Shutterfly site completed. There I’ve chronicled our trip, uploaded many of our photos, provided a link to my You Tube Channel where I’ve uploaded the videos I took from the trip and even uploaded the Google Earth data, both in image format and the actual data. If you go to the “Google Earth Tracking Data” and click on a file you can open it directly in Google Earth, even on an iPad or Android. ”

The site password is basa

In between the two trips and on our last day, I met with three private non-profit groups working with human trafficking victims. In a small cafe near Boudanath, two of my trekkers and I met with Anuradha Achara, Ms. Charimaya Tamang and Sabina Darshandhari, the founder, with Shakti Samuha. www.shakisamuha.org.np. Sabina told me they had received an award from Hillary Clinton for being known as the first human trafficking program in Nepal. They invited me to give a workshop to their staff in November 2014. I accepted enthusiastically.

Meeting with Shakti Samuha Staff, Kathmandu

Meeting with Shakti Samuha Staff, Kathmandu

Prior to meeting them, I met Glenda Houser the program manager of Beauty For Ashes, www.beautyforashesintl.com

Riding with Glenda to meet Dhru

Riding with Glenda to meet Dhru

and Dhru Thapa, founder of New Hope Foundation, www.newhopenepal.com.

Dhru's wife and "family".

Dhru’s wife and “family”.

Meeting each of this people inspired me deeply to continue my efforts in taking westerners to Nepal. We are in a unique position to help these worthwhile programs. The dates for our next trip to Nepal are October 21-November 1, 2014.  Two more people are needed to complete the group. There is an informational event this Sunday in Potomac Maryland.v Please contact me soon if you are interested in joining us!

 

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We Flew to Pokhara to Begin our Hike to Sanctuary Lodge, Oct. 16

We had an early breakfast and headed to the airport to fly to Pokhara to begin our hike. Neta, accompanied us as far as he could into the airport. After he left us we negotiated the domestic flight part of the airport on our own. In ways it is a contact sport because so many men would like to help carry our luggage and assist us. Our flight was delayed, but eventually we arrived in Pokhara after a smooth flight.

Arriving in Pokhura

Ashok, our hike leader, Ram and Reban our porters met us at the airport. After an orientation at Ker and Downey offices, we were driven to the village where we began our hike. We stopped at A temple located in an a Tibetan refuge camp. The temple is called “The house where God lived. ” We had opportunity to interact with many Tibetans selling souvenirs. It was lovely, so peaceful.

We started our hike in the same village where the Annanpurna treks begin and end. It was nice for me since this was where I began my first trek years ago.

Beginning our hike

We began our walk through the village (lots to see) following a ridgeline in the lower foothills of the Annapurnas with surrounding views of the Pokhara Valley. I loved just walking along with the porters soaking in the incredible beauty around me.

Ashok playing

After a couple of hours, the trail dropped to the Modi River Valley, where Ker & Downey’s Sanctuary Lodge is located at 3470 ft/1060 meters. The lodge has magnificent views of the sacred and unclimbed Fishtail Mountain, or Machhapuchhre, as it is locally known.We were glad to get there.

Sanctuary Lodge entrance

It was so beautiful. We had time to explore the trail down to the river and rest before dinner. I took a shower and just laid on my bed for awhile appreciating being “unplugged, ” far away from my usual beaten path, and feeling free. Word can’t describe what it is like to hear nothing but birds singing, insects chirping, and the river flowing. At dinner we met Mala and her great uncle. She works for Tricare near Washington, DC and her uncle is a math teacher at the University of Chicago. We enjoyed talking with them.

The next morning, Ashok made sure we were up at six to see Fishtail Mountain. I’d seen it before when I trekked, but never this clearly and from this perspective. All of us were thrilled!

“Fishtail” Machapuchre mountain

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Update re fund raiser at Ghar-E-Kabab for school supplies in Nepal

Thanks to all the guests who enjoyed delicious food and great conversation, over $1,000 was raised for Dadagaun and Basa villages in Nepal. The goal for both villages, is to support programs that will help the villagers maintain their culture and be self-sustaining.

We were fortunate that the Ambassador from Nepal, Dr. Shankar Prasad Sharma joined us for about 30 minutes. He answered many questions we had about Nepal. He also told us that people from the United States are the 3rd largest number of tourist, that travel to Nepal has doubled in the last 2 years and 40% of the people who visit Nepal, return. This is a very high percentage for returning travelers. Lok Tiwari, the owner Ghar-E-Kabob explained that the difference between Nepalese and Indian food is Nepalese food is cooked in Mustard oil and doesn’t use cream. I always wondered about this.

Christine (contact for Dadagaun Village) has been working with our group to plan our volunteer project. Since two of the men joining our group have gotten 3 lap tops to take with us. They are configuring them here. They will teach the teachers and the children how to use and maintain them, once they are set up. One of the women in our group is an accountant and is planning to teach Dorje (school principal) and the older children some basic accounting skills. I’m planning to lead a mother’s group with many of the young women I met last year. Fortunately, Neru, Steve’s wife who translated for me last year, will co-lead the group. Here is a link to photos that Christine sent me from her last visit in March. More to come!

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