The Power of a Cup of Tea

Sharing tea is an important business in this country. Nothing begins or is official until at least one cup is consumed. When everyone takes their seat with something warm and familiar, the atmosphere changes. Slurps of piping hot liquid break the silence and defenses come down. Stories start flowing. Hearts start showing.

Our offices are in Nepal's capital city, Kathmandu. But our work is North, in the Himalayas. While many aspects of city living make operations easier, like making copies and government appointments, our hearts are with the people in the mountains. Meeting with them face to face, sharing a cup of tea and stories and laughter is crucial to our work. Without it, the number of supplies we send or schools we open would mean little. We need to be present for them to know we care.

But it's not easy. The people who need hope the most are living in the most remote places on earth. So, how do we get from here to there to have that all-important cup of tea?

Upper Tsum, located in the Gorkha region of the country, is one of the highest places in the world. To get there from our offices takes one long day on a bus and up to six days of hiking. We make the trip to this area three to five times a year. The bus rides are long, uncomfortable, and dusty. The hike is strenuous. Dangerous, even. But in the mission to carry hope, our work begins where the road ends. In Nepali and Tibetan culture, tea time is a non-negotiable and the community that happens around it is worth every step.

On our most recent trip, after a long, pandemic year away, we weren't surprised but were so very encouraged by the hospitality that greeted us there. The ward chairman of Upper Tsum organized a special event for the community to show their appreciation to MountainChild, SGCAS, and HALO. 15 HALO rescuees and their families traveled by foot from their homes in surrounding areas to meet our team who came from Kathmandu up the mountain. For some, the walk was not short. What a reminder that Himalayan hospitality is like nowhere else in the world.

In that humble room, the rich sat next to the poor to have tea and share their stories, their thanks. Medical emergencies don't discriminate. Each person shared how HALO has saved their lives, their loved ones. Everyone had a new sense of hope that didn't exist in their lives before HALO. One man was particularly eager to share about both of his daughters being rescued by HALO. He had his youngest stand to show off her scar from a skull fracture some years ago. At the time of the accident, he shared, he thought he'd lost her. Her case seemed hopeless. The weather even delayed the rescue a few times. But we're so proud to say that both of his daughters are alive, healthy, and growing to be women whose stories are marked by hope. And to see the joy on their faces in person, to shake hands with and stand next to the people we serve brings new meaning to the work we do.

Presence is powerful.

We will always seek out the cup of tea, the face-to-face connection. It's on moments like those we build a network of hope, a group of people who believe in something more than the circumstances they're faced with.  And hope is contagious.

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