I could have been car parking at Cheltenham Races in November 2016 for SEP but I wasn’t. I was trekking slowly up the Khumbu valley in Nepal trying to reach Everest Base Camp with my sister, Pam, as a sponsored challenge for Kids at School in Nepal (KASIN). It was the fourth time I have visited Nepal, partly in my role as a Trustee of the charity but also because something keeps drawing me back to this magical country and its lovely people.
The trek was all things :- challenging; very social as we chatted to other trekkers of all nationalities; so many new sights and experiences; becoming good friends with our expert guide, Saroj and Ashrai our porter; crossing raging rivers on long, wobbly bridges; masked dancing at a Buddhist temple. And above all, the views of the snow-capped mountains, the biggest in the world. Round every corner was another panorama, mountains that we learned by name and shape, our favorite Ama Dablam, or Mother Daughter, which had a large pointed summit and a smaller one next to it. We saw Buddhist mani stones and snow white chortens, strings and strings of prayer flags, lumbering yaks carrying heavy loads and a long haired wild goat called a Tahr. It was sunny and warm by day but so cold at night, getting colder as we went higher – no heating or hot water in the Lodges, bed being the warmest place.
We didn’t make it all the way to the Base Camp at 5,300 meters. Pam started suffering from altitude sickness from 3,000 meters and bravely struggled on to 4,100 meters where, after six days trekking, we decided it would be risking her life to go any higher so while she took a day to relax in our Lodge, Saroj and Ash took me up a mountain called Nangkar Tshang to a height of just over 5,000 meters. It was extremely steep and took three very hard hours to climb up and one very scary hour to slither down but I am proud that I did it and feel I have justified the faith my sponsors put in me.
The other part of our trip was to attend the grand opening of Dandakharka School in the remote area of Phulkharka where KASIN has been supporting eight very poor schools over the past five years. All the schools in the valley were flattened in the 2015 earthquake and our small charity had financed the rebuilding of Dandakharka School in the most remote and poorest part of the valley. We were given an amazing welcome from the whole community with a local band, traditional dancing, garlands of flowers and the traditional tikka – red powder on our foreheads, cheeks and noses! The new school is so much better than their old one and they have new furniture also financed by KASIN and made by local craftsmen which gave them much needed employment in the aftermath of the earthquake. Next year other trustees will be making a visit to ensure they are being used properly.
My sponsorship goal was £1,000 and I am delighted to say that I have raised a total of £1,013.
Thank you SEP for your sponsorship and I hope to see some of you at Cheltenham during the season.