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Philanthro-Trekking in Nepal; combining adventure and volunteer service to Basa Village
Mike Miller, Cathy Dawson and I spent nineteen days on a mission trip to Basa village in Nepal in mid November through early December. We trekked to the remote village in the Nepal Himalayas to help initiate a hydroelectric project for a community that has never had electricity. The villagers cook and heat their homes with wood-burning fire pits. The villagers suffer health problems from inhaling smoke each day, and the nearby mountain forest is threatened from wood cutting. Indianapolis First Friends Quaker Meeting sponsored our successful fund raising project. So, we were able to purchase two hydroelectric generators for the village.
We rode in a bus with our crew of porters, kitchen staff and guides, along with the hydroelectric equipment, from Katmandu to the end of the road in Jiri. While the 250 lbs. of equipment was carried on the backs of porters direct to Basa, we took a circuitous route through the mountains to enjoy trekking the middle Himalayas in the Solu region.
In Basa, Mike, a retired electrical engineer, and I met with the local project engineer, Chandra Nepal. With the village leaders, we inspected the waterfall-fed stream, which will serve as the hydro-power source for the electricity generator. Mike reviewed the plan with Chandra for construction of a small directional dam and power station and for stringing wire from the power station to the village. Mike was satisfied that the plans are sound and he was impressed with Chandra’s practical approach to the difficulties of creating electricity in such a remote area.
A major concern, however, was that only one generator was delivered to Basa. We had contracted for two. The problem was resolved at a meeting back in Katmandu with representatives of Techno Village Co. (the supplier of the generator equipment). It was interesting to participate in a business meeting with company representatives and the board of the Basa Village Foundation NGO. The meeting started with tea and the utmost civility. However, voices began to rise, and eventually I had to demand that the Company and NGO reps explain in English to Mike and me the problems and commit to a solution. The explanation we received was that only one generator was in stock and the second was to be available for transport to Basa within three weeks. Because the Company reps are high caste Brahmins and the NGO members are from the lower caste Rai people, who are farmeres, there were some communication problems and distrust. However, the problems were resolved and the second generator was transported to Basa three weeks later.
The water site is a beautiful waterfall/stream a rigorous 20 minute hike from the village. The only effects on the environment will be: 1) a little dam that will help the water flow narrow at a natural funnel to maximize flow into a pipe during dry season (winter); 2) a cistern and shelter for the generator; and 3) poles within the village to lift wires up to the homes. The plan is to pin the wire to a rock wall along the waterfall and then string wire underground up to the village to minimize the number of poles needed.
While the equipment is owned by the Basa Village Foundation NGO, the system will be run and operated by a village co-op. Two village-wide meetings were held while we were in Basa, and there was great enthusiasm for the project within the village. A “code of conduct” was agreed to by the villagers as to the provision of labor by the village to construct and maintain the system, as well as a sliding scale for villagers to contribute financially for an initial buy-in and then monthly maintenance of the system. It is anticipated that construction will be completed by early summer. So, I hope when I return to Basa in the fall I will see lights in the village.
The system will provide very modest electricity to the 62 homes in the village. Each home will only have enough power for the equivalent of about 4 low-wattage light bulbs. But the villagers don’t have TVs or high-power appliances. They just want to be able to see around their homes at night without burning wood or kerosene.
Cathy, Mike and I had a fun and challenging trek to Basa. The high and low point for me was climbing 14,000 ft. Pike (Peekay) Peak. I scurried up to the top solo, got lost coming down and had an adventure fighting my way through heavy underbrush, a rhododendron and pine forest, and sliding down a frozen waterfall. I came down the wrong side of the mountain, because it was covered in a cloud allowing me about twenty feet visibility and I got disoriented. The trail I was following at the base of Pike was washed out by an avalanche. As night fall was fast approaching and I was beginning to look for shelter to survive the night, I found a boot print I recognized and was able to make it back to camp. Our sirdar, Ganesh Rai, and 4 of our crew were still up on the mountain searching for me.
Next morning Ganesh, Mike and I hiked back to the top and had spectacular views of the Everest massif and other 8,000 meter peaks along the Nepal-Tibet border. Photography was a challenge with 40 mph winds.
As we neared Basa, we were met by the village musicians, who piped and drummed us into the village. The villagers showered us with flowers, and matrons pushed cups of rakshi (home-brewed spirits) into our hands. During our three days in Basa we visited many homes as well as the school. The students performed traditional Rai dances for us.
Cathy’s experience as a teacher and massage therapist were put to good use. While we trekked, she worked daily with two of our porter-students to improve their English. She gave the less shy members of our crew massages for sore muscles, and delighted the 70-year old wife of the Lama of Gaur with a first in a lifetime massage. In Basa she taught the kids rhyming and clap/slap games to aid their English acquisition.
We also distributed shoes to all of the guys in our crew and some of their children courtesy of First Friends. I delivered some materials for the school, including bookmarks made by kids in Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center. And I gave the student dancers Beanie Babies.
Another favorite memory of the trek is sitting with our crew by a campfire under the huge starlit sky with white-capped mountains looming across huge and deep valleys. One night Ganesh and Buddiraj Rai, the assistant guide, told me the stories of their Rai forefathers and the unique customs and rites of the Khaling Rai.
Lastly, I’ll forever admire Mike Miller’s “slow but sure” approach to trekking at age 71. He made camp timely everyday and had the energy to hike up Pike and shoot photos in tearing wind and cold. And he has the technical knowledge to have helped the local engineer and Basa Village Foundation NGO to refine the plan for the hydroelectric system.
Back in Katmandu we enjoyed the quiet of the Nirvana Garden Hotel, but hung out at the Katmandu Guest House for social life. Friend Uttam Phuyal, manager of the KGH, introduced us to several other philanthro-trekkers. Over milk tea and beers we shared ideas about service projects in Nepal and travel adventures. Our own adventure ended with a feast at Niru Rai’s house the HQ of Adventure GeoTreks, the expedition company which took such good care of us on the trek.
If you are interested in visiting Nepal in 2011 or assisting with the Basa Village Project, contact Jeff Rasley at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website: www.jeffreyrasley.com
You can access a photo album of the trek via Jeff’s website by clicking on Jiri-Pike-Basa-Phaplu Trek 2010 and scrolling to the bottom of that page.
Jeff Rasley is the author of Bringing Progress to Paradise, a book about combining adventure travel with service work in Himalayan villages. The book is available through Amazon and bookstores.
Gnostagia is running a give-away of two of Jeff Rasley’s book Bringing Progress to Paradise. For a chance to win, just leave a comment or question for Jeff Rasley here or email me. Winners will be chosen at random on Sunday, April 10th. Please leave your email address in your comment so that we may get in touch with you if you win. You may also purchase a copy of this book at Amazon.com HERE.
Open for US only. No PO Boxes allowed for delivery of the book.
I will be giving a review of this book shortly so be sure to stay tuned.
Congratulations to Barry of Florida and Barbara of Maine for winning a free copy of Jeff’s book, Bringing Progress to Paradise!
My contribution for the month sweetie! *HUGS* Debby
The number #1 song on the day you were born!
I have recently come across an excellent web site thanks to my friend, Dottie. This site is called, the Oath Keepers. I’m very impressed by this site and encourage all patriots to at least visit and read this site!
Here is their introduction:
“Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters who will fulfill the Oath we swore, with the support of like minded citizens who take an Oath to stand with us, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God. Our Oath is to the Constitution. Our motto is “Not on our watch!””
According to a ‘Miracles and Inspiration’ news article by Scott Mowry, the Vatican, the Obama administration and the European Space Agency (among others) are gearing up to make a revelation of great proportions that will shake not only the Catholic & Christian religions but the whole world to it’s very core! As early as some time this month, it seems that some UFO experts think that the above mentioned organizations will reveal the existance of ETs! And that they have been actively preparing us for this revealion through various means. For instance, the Pope’s senior astronomer, Brother Guy Consolmagno stated recently that he would baptize ETs if they asked him as they too might have souls. Intrepid scientist and NASA investigator Richard Hoagland commented on the Coast to Coast AM radio show on September 17th that he believes this comment by Brother Consolmagno is a clear indication that an ET disclosure may happen very soon by saying to the radio host George Noory, “This is obviously a planned run up to disclosure, I mean there is no other way to account for this.”
Mr. Hoagland in November 2008 at the Secrets Conference in a presentation called “The Hyper-dimensional Election of Barack Obama” stated that the Obama administration is stoutly committed to making a disclosure announcement and that “Obama’s entire election is about making the hidden history of the human race finally unhidden.”
Mr. Hoagland believes that this disclosure will include the announcement that “the European Space Agency (ESA) may be ready to reveal the news that the moon Phobos orbiting around Mars is actually an ancient extra-terrestrial craft. There is going to be an accelerating cascade of these events, not only from the Vatican… you are going to see things coming from our administration. There is a lot of clues that we are getting closer to some kind of official movement this Fall… think of an ‘October surprise’,” he added. He speculated that the October or November time frame may be the most likely, says Scott Mowry.
UFO investigator for over 40 years, Dr. Stanton Friedman seems to agree and on the same Coast to Coast radio show he stated “that the Pope has taken several critical steps over the last year that seem to be setting the world up for extra-terrestrial disclosure. What does he know that we don’t know? It sounds like he is getting Catholics ready for the big disclosure.”
With the Vatican’s chief astronomer Father Jose Gabriel Fune’s comment in May 2008 “just as we consider earthly creatures as ‘a brother,’ and ‘sister,’ why should we not talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’? It would still be part of creation”, the Vatican’s symposium in Rome on the possibility of the existance of ETs in November 2009 where over 30 of the world’s best scientist, astronomers and scholars attended and the Vatican’s Monsignor Corrado Balducci proclaiming that extraterrestrial contact is a real phenomena on Italian TV, is it any wonder why there are some believing the same as Mr. Hoagland and Dr. Friedman?
And to top this all off, UFO researcher Larry Lowe stated in the ‘Pheonix Examiner’ about the new series “The Event” airing on the NBC Network, “I can assure you that the viewer will be treated to the unprecedented visualization of the President of the United States finally admitting to the public that ET exists — and that some of them look a lot like us and are here on the planet already.”
To read even more, click here for the full article by Scott Mowry.
So, as Scott Mowry asks, ARE YOU READY?
There has been a breakthrough to the underground room where 33 Chilean miners have been trapped for 66 days on Saturday. After 33 days of drilling, the “Plan B” drill broke through to the miners 622 meters down. Celebration and cheering started as soon as the ‘Camp Hope’ siren rang out confirming the break through. Although no one has been brought to the surface yet, everyone involved is excited about the news. Officials still have yet to decide whether they are going to bring up the miners via a capsule through the unreinforced rock tunnel they just created, or if they’re going to reinforce it with heavy steel piping first. For more info on this story, see the AP story here. Picture above courtesy of the Associate Press.
IMHO, I feel that the sooner they get these miners out, the better and Tuesday seems so very far away! So, I’ll be glued to the news reports Tuesday cheering everyone on! Hope you join me. My prayers and best wishes are with all of the workers, the miners and their families as this nightmare is coming to a close!
To the sweetest southern gentleman whom I’ve had the pleasure and honor to know and be friends with for 12+ years….. may this special day be filled with much love, family and friends (and the hell with the diet and your boyish figure….LOTS of cake & ice cream too! LOL)! Happy Birthday sweetie and may the world be blessed with the celebration of many more!!
*LUVS & SUGARS*
With much love from your northern yankee celtic vixen!