As with all countries during this pandemic, Nepal has been hit very hard with Covid -19, and now the Delta variant is sweeping the country. Whole families are dying. Young, fit healthy people are dying. There is a great shortage of oxygen and ventilators and of course they have no help with health care or financial support in any way from the government.
Due to the lack of fair distribution of vaccines internationally, only 14.7% of Nepalese have received the 1st dose of the vaccine, and just 6.9% of the 2nd dose. (World Health organisation, July 2021). My heart continually goes out to those in the UK who have lost loved ones, who are experiencing Long Covid – and around the world the millions of lives affected by this pandemic. I do feel though, that for all our challenges and loss, living in a first world country means the majority of us have access to medical care, food, clean water, transport, communication (telephones, TV etc), etc. It’s been tough – but in some third world countries – the challenges are huge. Nepal is such a country, and one that is close to my heart.
No tourists = no income
With no tourists visiting Everest, the Annapurna region and other parts of this beautiful country, work has dried up. Tourists are still not allowed to enter the country – and tourism is the main way so many Nepalese earn money. Food, of which the majority of us here in the UK have an abundance – is in short supply. Medicines are always expensive, but mostly prohibitive at the moment.
I’m sure we can help!
Over the last few months I’ve been running an online “Yoga for Better Sleep” session and Sally Deacon, a fellow yoga teacher, has Zoomed in, enjoying the much-needed nurturing time. Throughout this pandemic Sally has been sending the money she has earned from teaching yoga to her close friend Phuri who lives In Chaurikharka, nr Lukla. He has bought food and distributed it to people in and around his village. (Sally met Phuri over 20 years ago when travelling in Nepal and has stayed in touch ever since!)
A donation can make a significant difference. What amounts to “a cup of coffee” for us, has huge benefit for those in Chaurikharka. All donations get sent to a bank account that Sally has set up and this is used to buy food for those in need in the hill villages where Phuri’s family distribute it to those most in need.
Why this is important for me…My personal connection to Nepal
Many years ago, I travelled for three weeks in Nepal, exploring Kathmandu, Pokhara and trekking in the Annapurna region. The people were beautiful, with bright sparkling eyes, freely laughing, and the children would trail after me as I had my teddy bear (Benji!) hanging off the back of my rucksack…(they thought it was hilarious!) Homes were extremely basic, with bare earth for floors, tin roofs, a cooking fire in the centre, and just a handful of personal possessions. They farmed the land the way their ancestors had, through hard toil, simple tools, creating terraces to plant their crops.
By our standards they had nothing. By our standards they had so much more. Connection, community, a simple life (hard, yes), but in tune with the cycles of Mother Nature. We trekked through the Annapurna region and met the hill people – it was incredible.
Unfortunately, I became very ill with (the classic) upset stomach and it – was – awful! After 48 hours of not being able to keep anything “in” we faced our longest, steepest, and highest trek of the trip. I physically couldn’t do it. I was on my knees and so drained. No ambulance could come and get me, no 4 wheel drive vehicles could manoeuvre the tiny, steep trails and certainly no helicopter could fly in. Pretty dire. And I was frightened…
Two Sherpas – who’s faces I see as clearly today as back then – took it in turns to carry me. Placing traditional carrying straps around their head (see 2nd picture below, the strap is on the floor), they hoisted me onto their back and in classic “Sherpa” style took slow steady steps along the trails. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I’m 5′ 8″ tall – they were probably around 5′ 4″ maybe 5′ 6″…and wore flip flops! I know they saved my life – because I literally could not have done that day’s trekking.
These are simple people – supposedly. Yet their tenacity, warmth of spirit, humour (oh how they teased me days later!), and innate spirituality shone through.