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Events and Announcements from the Blog

Feb
23

2015

A story from the trail about witnessing the joy of a “Love Marriage”

My recent team from Oregon and I were given the incredible honor to be invited into a wedding reception in a remote village of the Himalayas.  It was the last thing we were expecting to be a part of.  While trekking we came into a village and heard the strange sounds of dance music over a loud speaker.  Passing by the reception the team took the time to have a spontaneous dance party mid-trail.  I think this may have been part of the reason for the invite.

It was an incredible experience.  We met the bride and groom along with many family members, villagers, and other people that traveled great distances to celebrate with them.  We had traditional snacks, food and tea to celebrate.  It was amazing to see and learn that this was a “love marriage” and that the couple was happy to be together and had the support of their family.

Unfortunately, many potential brides in Nepal do not end up with a happy story like this one.  Many Nepali girls are actually sold because of the dowry practice.  When a girl is engaged, her family must offer anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars to the grooms family.  On the day of the wedding they have to present gifts that could be worth several years wages.  Because of this, many parents will choose to sell their daughters rather than have them marry.  Trafficking is still very real here in Nepal.  Some of this is due to the traditions and customs families feel they must participate in. 

It’s experiences like these that give us hope to see change in the lives of the Nepali people. Help us raise awareness, carry hope, and fight to end human slavery.

Feb
05

2015

Life of a Tibetan Villager

My recent group had an incredible opportunity to visit villages during an off-season for trekkers. Due to the lack of tourists on the trail, we had unique opportunities to just “hang out” with many of the teahouse owners and their families.

One memorable time was spent in a small village called Ghodatabela. We sat with our teahouse owner and asked questions about his family, culture, way of life and history. He told us about his family and how they had migrated from Tibet down into the valley, and that his family had been there for several generations. His family is part of the Kyerung people group. It was very interesting to learn that even his language was incredibly unique. Although the Kyerung people are considered to be Tibetans in both Tibet and Nepal, their own language is unintelligible with other Tibetan languages.

The family members that settled in the valley had extreme hardships due to the environment. They learned to grow crops in limited seasons, and used animals for work and transportation. Today, this teahouse owner still faces many of the same hardships due to the environment. One ongoing challenge is quality education for his children. He has to send them all the way down to Kathmandu and only sees them a few times a year. He said the closest school in the bigger, more modern village did not have quality education and usually closes most of the winter due to the harsh conditions. It was an amazing opportunity to hear about the history and present situation of this wonderful family. It gave proof to the challenges of village life in the Himalayas for both the adults and children that occupy them.

It’s conversations like these that continuing to drive our passion to provide quality education in more accessible areas for mountain families, and aid in the improvement of farming techniques. If you want to learn more about what MountainChild is doing in the areas of these 2 core issues, check out the “Media” tab on our website to view videos of these issues!

Jan
18

2015

Asha Grace Center Grant

MountainChild is proud to partner with local organizations that are helping to aid Nepali people in an area that aligns with one of our 5 core issues. Last year, MountainChild issued a grant to the Asha Grace Center here in Nepal. The Asha Grace Center was established in 2012 with the goal of helping children of brick factory workers receive an education.

In Nepal, there are more than 500 brick factories in the Kathmandu Valley. The brick factories only operate six months per year due to the rainy and cold seasons in Nepal, which negatively affects their productions. Because of this, most brick factory workers are paid by how many bricks they make, so many times parents will have their kids working along side them in order to produce more bricks per day. Therefore, many children are unable to go to school. Asha Grace Center is specifically geared toward providing an education for these children. Because many families won’t sacrifice having their children gone all day to go to school, Asha provides a 4-hour school day to allow the children to get an education but still help their families work in the factory. They also provide sanitation and health information, like using a toilet, how to wash your hands, the importance of hygiene and more.

The grant from MountainChild provided an educational opportunity for 71 children this past year! We are so thankful to be able to partner with organizations that are doing such amazing work in Nepal. By joining hands with Asha Grace Center, we are both able to Carry Hope to more Nepali’s than we would be able to independently. Thank you for continuing to support our work in Nepal!

Dec
29

2014

Friends in High Places

It had been nearly nine hours since we left the Hidden Monastery. No food left. Hadn’t seen water in four hours. The sun was going down and we were at least ninety minutes from our final destination. As we continued our four-hour descent along the sheer face of the mountain, the warm afternoon sun dipped behind the ridge and gave way to the chilling shade of twilight. A feverish turn that took only seconds.

My team of volunteers was starting to lag behind as we entered the next remote village. It had been a year since I had visited this town. I returned with printed photos of the ethnically Tibetan villagers I had met the previous year. I wound through the narrow lanes, trying hard to make out any familiar faces in the failing light of day.

First there was C*, the baby whose mother had committed suicide after losing a child to the outbreak more than a year before. He was visiting an aunty and looking relatively healthy, though not much larger. I heard his father had remarried.

Next there was P. Her family had also lost a child in the outbreak. A new stone and metal outhouse stood in her front patio area. After the outbreak, more and more villagers began making the connection between hygiene and health. Outhouses like this were becoming more prevalent in the valley.

The villager’s homes were spread sparsely across the narrow plateau of yellow grass and rhododendron trees. “Are we there yet?” slipped from one of the volunteers. We had been in the same village for fifteen minutes, but when the houses are separate by ancestral farmlands it can sometimes take a while to walk to a neighbor’s house.

We hustled on to T’s house. She’s probably only in her early teens. She was taking care of the house and farm alone. Her father had passed away years ago leaving the seven daughters to take care of their mother. The previous week I had actually eaten lunch with T’s mother in Kathmandu. She had travelled five days for a doctor to investigate an ache in her body. After a week of tests, it seems the doctor’s results were still inconclusive and he had required her to stay, leaving T alone even longer. In the coming years, MountainChild, in partnership with village leadership, plans to break ground on a Health Post just 20 minutes from T’s house. Bringing this kind of basic health care to the mountains will alleviate the stress of absent parents and make the decision to go to the doctor an easier one.

One last house. We rounded the corner and announced our presence with a Tibetan greeting, “Tashi Delek!” The clanging of dishes proved we had startled my friend. After a cheerful, but brief volley of small talk, we dismissed ourselves to continue down the mountain to our final destination where a guesthouse for foreigners awaited.

“Where are you going?” she asked. When we told her our intentions she replied with an emphatic, “No! Stay with me!” Her neighbor, who was also a friend, rounded the corner and the two began bickering over who would have the privilege of hosting our team.

Ten minutes later it was pitch black outside. The temperature had plummeted, and we were lounging around the indoor fire sipping tea and swapping stories with our hostesses as they prepared our dinner. Our boots had been joyfully retired at the door and our beds awaited us in the next room. On nights like that one, I was very thankful to have friends in high places.

Many such visits have been made and will continue to be made as MountainChild strengthens its friendship with the people of the Himalayas.

*Names have been changed

Dec
07

2014

Worth the Cost




The trek started easy enough through the beautifully terraced rice fields at the base of the mountain ahead of us. As we continued on, the raw beauty of this place captivated us all. Waterfalls, rugged mountain peaks, sheer cliffs and the tips of snow-capped mountains in the distance were majestic. We were planning to reach Lapu, a remote village, by lunchtime. However, after two of our team members became too ill to continue and the climb became more treacherous, we missed our lunchtime arrival. We sent the sick members back with a guide, and decided to press on.

We reached Lapu several hours after lunch. The villagers greeted us with open arms and warm hearts. It seemed the entire village turned out to welcome us to Lapu. We were off the beaten path and Lapu was not accustomed to receiving many trekkers, which meant we were quite the spectacle in this ancient village. They had heard of our coming and in traditional Nepali custom had prepared a meal to welcome us with.

While they finished preparing the meal, we had the opportunity to speak with the adults and play with the children. And there were many, many children. I watched children play, experiencing bubbles for possibly the first time. I watched true joy, intrigue and uncontrollable laughter as the children (and some adults) chased floating bubbles of soap only to have them “pop” when caught. It was amazing to see the simplicity of their joy! These people have next to nothing, yet their joy in contagious.

After our time with in the village, we headed back from where we came. We knew it was going to get dark sooner than we wanted, so we needed to move quickly. We arrived back at the guesthouse in the dark with cuts, bruises, scrapes, sore knees and screaming legs. But we arrived. As we gathered ourselves for debrief, checked up on our ill team members, ordered food for dinner and simply tried to walk on legs that had no steps left in them, we recounted our time in Lapu. We recounted the smiles. We recounted the laughter. We recounted the joy. We recounted the encounter we shared in Lapu, the opportunity to share life with these beautiful people, if only for one day. Although tired, bruised, sore and unable to walk, we all agreed that our trip to Lapu was worth the cost. It is always worth the cost.

Nov
17

2014

Tears on the Trail


To find someone that is willing to listen to your hearts cry is often a rare moment in life. To find someone or a group that sympathizes and desires to help make that heart cry a reality is another. The later was an unforgettable experience that impacted my life and resulted in my tears on the trail. This experience came from an intimate time with a local villager as she poured out her hearts cry for her family, village, valley and people group. It was a deep cry of desperation, love and fear of future suffering.

I sat with a group of professionals and listened to the heartache and agony as this young girl pleaded for us to remember the plight of the people that surrounded her. The cry for my group was to join our efforts for the people and villages we had encountered on our journey through the valley. “My family is bound in fear,” she stated, as she explained the reality she saw in her village. Death is a daily occurrence in these villages, mostly from easily preventable things such as diarrhea. Many are uneducated and will not seek medical help if it will interfere with the management of their crops.

Twenty minutes of deep crying and a hearts agony were expressed. I identified with the call, the pleading, the desperation; only I was leaving the valley, and she would be left alone with no one to listen to her hearts cry. My heart and emotions were overwhelmed. The thoughts of being remote, days away from any form of medical care or training were heavy. I was challenged as I took an honest view into my own convictions regarding the plight and urgency I felt in my heart for the people that surrounded me. The tears came as an overwhelming awareness of my pitiful state to see beyond myself even when exposed to the suffering of those in front of me. It was a challenge to take action. It was a challenge to go beyond myself and step up to the level of conviction of this young villager.

This young girl is one of our RANCH graduates, and she desires to be a public health worker, the first in her valley. She wants to use this training to better the lives of her people. She recognizes what seems to be an incredibly daunting task before her, but she is determined to make a difference. It is people like her who make what we do so rewarding. Join us in helping her, and many children just like her, realize their dreams of bringing hope back to their villages.

Nov
03

2014

One Simple Act

Our first Explore team of the fall season was a group of women from the US who traveled to a remote village where many of the women are survivors of severe victimization, mostly trafficking. The area they visited was recently in the news due to a massive landslide and flood which claimed dozens (possibly hundreds) of lives. In this same village there are around 100 students in Kindergarten, but only 18 in the 8th grade due to issues like human trafficking and forced child marriages.

During the team’s time in the village they washed the feet and painted the nails of some of the survivors. This may seem like such a simple act for many of us, but to these women it meant more than most are able to comprehend. In this culture, touching another person’s feet is unholy. They believe that touching the feet of another person is a sin. The teams act of servitude showed these women that regardless of their past, they are loved and have value. As the team sat at the feet of these women talking and sharing stories, any barrier of culture, status or background was broken. What an incredible opportunity to carry hope to these women!

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