As some of you may know I was in Nepal when the country was rocked by the major earthquake on 25th April this year. I’d completed my trek and was sitting in the lobby of my hotel when the earth, quite literally, moved and it’s not an experience I’d ever want to repeat.
When I got back to Australia I struggled for some time to come to terms with what had happened. I struggled with my own personal experience, yes, but also with the enormous impact that this disaster had on a country that I’d come to love and it’s people, who had been devastated by such an enormous loss of lives and the destruction of buildings and ancient monuments.
Apart from families having to come to terms with the loss of loved ones, the major impact of this disaster has come from the downturn in their major form of income – tourism. Thousands of Nepalese families derive their income from tourism, from housing, clothing, feeding and guiding the trekkers and mountaineers who have descended on the area, in increasing numbers, every year since Sir Edmund Hillary stood on the summit of Mt Everest over sixty years ago.
In the aftermath of the earthquake bookings for upcoming treks were cancelled and operators have struggled to entice people back for the trekking season about to begin.
A family that I have become close to had their home damaged and were not able to move back in, they are now living in a tent. The father is a school teacher but his school was too badly damaged and has not reopened, he isn’t able to find work. The mother, Yangjin, is a trekking guide who doesn’t know if there will be any work for her this season, they have two young daughters for who they are trying to provide a normal life.
Much of the world turned out to help after the quake, fundraising events were organised, governments and businesses chipped in with money and manpower but what is needed most now, for Yangjin and her family, and for all the other families who need to make a living, is for us trekkers and mountaineers to go back to Nepal.
For those of us that have trekked in these mountains there will always be that lure, that peace and tranquillity, that stunning scenery and those amazing people, that will entice us back. But if you’ve never been before and are considering a trek in the near future, here are just a few images to encourage you to head over there, to experience something that will have a profound impact on you, and to help these genuine people reclaim their lives.