Namaste Nepal: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the real Nepal
Last November, nine supporters joined us for the inaugural Renewable World Nepal Experience. During this eight-day trip, participants got first-hand experience of our solar water pumping programme, met community members set to benefit from a new water pumping system, and helped out with the construction of tap stands for a school and a house.
Stephen Balint, our former Chair of Trustees, was one of the first to sign up for the trip. Below he shares with us his Nepal Experience – his personal trip highlights and reflections on the impact that the trip had.
Our Nepal Experience
By Stephen Balint
Last November my family and I left a cold and rainy Manchester airport for the start of an amazing adventure. Over the next 10 days we would experience the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, with its restaurants, quirky shops and multitude of ancient temples and shrines; we would undertake a 3 day trek around the Kathmandu Valley Rim and, most importantly, we would see how the work of Renewable World is transforming lives in the hill communities in the Surkhet region of Nepal.
As a family we already had strong connections to Renewable World. I was a member of the board of trustees of Renewable World from late 2014 to late 2019, and the family has been very engaged in fundraising and donating to specific projects and general support. Between us we have participated in Earth Wind & Tyre (Renewable World’s annual cycling event) three times, run half a dozen half-marathons and one full marathon.
Although the whole trip was totally unforgettable, the part that had the most profound impact on us all was the time spent in the hill communities.
Getting to know two communities
We first visited a community where Renewable World was in the process of installing a solar water pumping system and then an adjacent community where installation had already been completed. We were given a fantastic welcome as you can see from the photo below.
It would take a long time to tell you everything about the three days we spent there but it included meeting very lovely people and seeing how their lives are transformed by Renewable World’s projects.
The daily burden of water collection
We had a go at fetching water from the source up to the community, as you can see in the photo below of my wife Sue and her sister Elaine fully kitted up to carry 25 kg of water on their backs.
It was perhaps fun to do this once, but it is clearly very hard work and consumes much time for the women and young children who do it several times every day. We were also shocked by how young the children queuing at the water source were, such as this young girl pictured below.
My sons, Chris and Andy, are both very large compared to the average Nepalis we met, and this proved to be of great fascination and amusement to the local children. One little boy (pictured below), who lived next to our temporary campsite, was a constant presence and loved to be chased by Andy. He was an amazing bundle of energy and was able to run at high speed up gradients where we could barely walk! As he was never without his backpack, we decided he must have a battery pack in it and christened him “Duracell”.
On our second night in the communities we had dinner at the house of the chair of the committee that would be responsible for taking ownership of, and maintaining, the solar water pumping system when complete. We heard a lot about the transformational benefits of the similar project that had already been completed in the adjacent community.
One thing that stuck in our minds was hearing that many of the young men had needed to leave not only their communities but also Nepal to earn money to sustain their families. Most of them were working in India and some in the Middle East, rarely able to come home and see their families, and probably working in appalling conditions tantamount to modern slavery.
Solar power brings hope
When we visited the second community, the water pumping was already beginning to allow families to start money-making activities, such as growing vegetables all year round, reducing the need for the men to go abroad. We left with the real hope that this will also happen when the second project is complete, and that “Duracell” and his friends will grow up to have a secure future in their communities.
The Renewable World Nepal Experience 2020/21
We will be running our next Renewable World Nepal Experience trip in late 2020 or early 2021. We have 10 places that sold out extremely quickly last year. If you are interested in joining or would like to find out more about what it involves, send us an expression of interest to: [email protected].