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OCTOBER 2009 - UPDATE FROM NEPAL



I have been in Nepal since the beginning of October and the political chaos continues and the local people, as always, suffer the price rises and shortages. Load shedding power cuts continue, although now only two hours at a time, but randomly throughout the day and night.

Following on from the spring season most tourists and our clients in particular escape the problems and we are able to manage most itineraries without any major problems.

Here in Kathmandu there is a pleasant daytime temperature of 28/30 degrees C. In the mountains the weather is now fine, after the monsoon rains which again lasted late until 10 October. With a cooler temperature the trekking is good.

Amidst all the difficulties faced by the local people I have two 'Good News' items at this time from Nepal.

Following on from last season when I brought some wind up torches for the family in Kathmandu. On my return to UK I made contact with the UK suppliers, Uni-Com (Global) Ltd in Kent. I was able to obtain further supplies, in bulk, from them direct. As well as the torches I brought last time Uni-Com also supply, amongst other types, wind up head torches and a very versatile wind up work light.

It has been possible to give head torches to our Sherpa guides and others who assist with clients on trek. At the time of writing reports are coming in from guides on trek that the head torches are proving to be very good and working well. Hand torches have been given to some elderly and needy people in Kathmandu and also to a number of houses in our villages in the Khumbu Everest region of Nepal. The work lights are proving particularly useful at home in Kathmandu and in the village. The light produced is allowing children to do their homework and many other household tasks are made possible during power cuts, and where no mains power is available. All these wind up lights will make life a little easier later in the year when the load shedding power cuts in Kathmandu are sure to be increased.

This wind up technology is proving particularly useful in some areas of Nepal when replacement batteries are either not available, or more likely, could not be afforded. The cost of replacement batteries, in some instances, can be more than the average daily wage! These torches and lights will make a difference.

Nepal Trekking is grateful to Uni-Com (Global) Ltd for help, assistance and technical information about their Wind up Equipment.

My second 'Good News' item begins way back in 1996 when Nepal Trekking had a Community Service Expedition Group working in our Sherpa village of Pangum in the Khumbu Everest region of Nepal.

Amongst the kitchen staff was a young teenage Sherpa boy, Zangbu, he was from the neighbouring village of Khari Khola. As with so many Sherpa boys at that time his schooling finished around class 5 or 6 and he became involved in Trekking in the same way as so many others before him.

After that Community Service Group in 1996 I perhaps only saw Zangbu once or twice over the next two or three years and never saw him again until this year, just a few days ago, when we met in Kathmandu. Of course it is always good to meet up with Sherpas I have known over the years and to come up to date and to renew friendships. It was a great pleasure to learn that Zangbu, now in his late twenties, is married with children and living in a dera (flat) in Kathmandu. His English Language is excellent, self taught, and during the years he had progressed through the 'Trekking Hierarchy' from Kitchen Boy to Sherpa (trek helper), to Guide, to Sirdar (head guide) and on to High Altitude Guide. In telling me of this he, very modestly, informed that he had successfully climbed the summit of Everest seven times during the years since 2003. I was particularly pleased to see that he had used the considerable income from these expeditions to advance his family and children's future. His children are at school in Kathmandu and will most probably have a better education and future than he had to look forward to at their age.

My involvement with the Sherpa people has taught me over the years that many are very resourceful and can adapt to changing times. Generally I have always considered that the Sherpa people learn from and appreciate the assistance they may receive from others.

At the beginning of this seasons visit to Nepal it was a great pleasure to hear of Zangbu's success and it gives some optimism for the future amongst these chaotic and uncertain times for the young people of Nepal.

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
October 2009