In March 2015, I trekked to Everest Base Camp with an incredible group of supporters from World Vision Australia, raising more than $100,000 for women and children in Nepal. One month after I returned home to Australia, on 25 April 2017, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. Now, two years and four months on, I’ve returned to Nepal and I’m overwhelmed with emotion.
This country I love so much has been through so much in the short few years since I last visited. It’s my fourth visit to Nepal and it certainly won’t be my last. Since my first trip in 2006, I fell in love with this naturally beautiful country. The passion of the people, the rich culture and the epic natural wonders keep me coming back. I don’t know what to expect returning.
Being a World Vision Blog Ambassador and a contracting stuff member to World Vision Australia, I’ve had a lot of information about the destruction of the earthquake and how it’s impacted the communities where World Vision works. Although there has been so much done to move on, and it’s certainly what the people want, I didn’t know what the state of affairs was now. I know the funds that have been raised, the work that has been done for health, water, education and child friendly spaces. But how does that look? What is day to day life going to be like.
My father and I will spend two weeks in Nepal. Our primary purpose for returning is to attend a conference. I’ve been going to these meetings to support my father since 2006 and this will be my 9th event. I’m also thrilled to be able to have time to visit World Vision’s office in Nepal.
Some of the key sites I would like to also visit during my time will be Bouddhanath, Swayambunath, PashupathiNath and Durbar Square Kathmandu. These all were impacted by the earthquake in various ways and are key cultural sites for the people here. They’re also busy tourist attractions and so I’ve seen them on a number of occasions.
I didn’t actually think much about my return to Nepal in the lead up. Busy with work and day to day life, I didn’t realise until I spoke at the Country Women’s Association of Australia in early July about Nepal, how much the trip meant. Perhaps I’ve been actively putting it out of my mind.
Finally, when the day came to head to Nepal, I felt excited. Nepali words were drifting into my mind and I couldn’t wait to enjoy some momos and dal bhat for dinner! On the plane ride into Kathmandu, I caught the first glimpse of those famous mountains and the steep hills at their base. The cloud cover shadowed the peaks but the valleys below were clear. I got choked up as memories rushed back into my mind and the differences I may encounter upon my return were rapidly approaching. It’s amazing how one scene can bring so much emotion. And this is before we’d even hit the ground!
I plan to write daily diaries of my time in Nepal. Reflections at the time of what I’m seeing and doing and the comparison to my past trips in the country I love so much.
You can also follow me on Instagram at @Lovellyem where I’ll be posting A LOT of photos of my experience there. I’ve created the #tag #Lovellynepaltrek for when Dad and I trek from Lukla to Namche Bazaar in the second week of our trek.
We’ve now given away 3x double passes to Sherpa Film which opens around Australia on 31st March, 2016. I’m so excited to see this movie after trekking to Everest Base Camp in 2015 and seeing how incredible these sherpas really are!
Read the blog for details and leave your comment to enter!! Just two double passes left.
Sherpa is an awe inspiring, emotional and epic story of one of the biggest tragedies to ever occur on Mount Everest. See this film to learn more about what life is really like for those who work and live on the World’s largest mountain.
A fight on Everest? It seemed incredible. But in 2013 news channels around the world reported an ugly brawl at 21,000ft as European climbers fled a mob of angry Sherpas.
In 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit in a spirit of co-operation and brave optimism. Now climbers and Sherpas were trading insults – even blows. What had happened to the happy, smiling Sherpas and their dedication in getting foreigners to the top of the mountain they hold so sacred?
Determined to explore what was going on, the filmmakers set out to make a film of the 2014 Everest climbing…
To my great dismay, there has been yet another devastating earthquake in Nepal. As the relief and recovery efforts were in full swing this just adds another dimension to the tragedy and makes relief efforts even more urgent.
World Vision Australia are on the ground meaning they are able to be more responsive to the needs of those most affected by the earthquakes. Sadly this is not an isolated incident as earthquakes of various magnitudes have been felt fairly consistently in the capital, mountains and surrounds over the past few weeks.
The Telegraph in the UK has published an article on The Future of Tourism in Nepal. This too has been a massive fear of mine since the earthquakes occurred. Also since being there in just March of this year, I’m feeling an extremely close connection. It’s hard to imagine how they can recover from this with one of the largest sources of revenue for the country, tourism being slowed to a halt. Also, the city of Kathmandu serves as a hub for mountaineers and travellers coming in. The attracting being the rich cutlery and history of the city. These buildings now lay in ruins. Some areas such as Bhaktapur, which was largely made up of red brick and wood buildings is so damaged, there are still people in there who it may take months to recover. I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the destruction these people are facing.
Through all this, the mentality and spirit of the people I know in Nepal, they persevere. They are a strong and resilient people. They have a strong sense of community and are helping one another and reaching out the world to join in and help.
I hope once we hear that it is clear, tourists will know the impotence of visiting and how much there is to Nepal – outside of the temples, cultural structures and mountains. There is a beautiful and tenacious people and one of the things I’ve loved so much about visiting over the past nine years, three times and sharing many special moments.
My friend Bishaka is currently in Nepal, she is a woman of the country and is hurting at the sights she is seeing. She is currently in an orphanage and trying to figure out a way to help these children now and in the future after losing their families to the earthquake. They need food, shelter and in the future, education. How will they be able to recover from this and cater to so many? Together is the answer! And together with our help. It’s heartbreaking to read her updates each day and to hear of her tears, but I know she’s doing amazing work and will help so many. I’m trying to help her as much as I can.
Photos above from Sindhupalchock, where she is currently trying to help some of the more remote villages.
Thousands have died and many more have been injured and displaced by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal. World Vision is initially aiming to reach 100,000 people with emergency relief – you can help by supporting the Nepal Earthquake Appeal today: http://wva.me/nepal-relief
I saw this activity posted by Matt and his colleague Connie Khoo. I wish to in future be purchasing only from ethical fashion and product sources and this is a great first step. This can help to give these women a better life and see fairer working conditions for people in Nepal. Something so essential in general but more so as this country will rebuild after the terrible #NepalEarthquake disaster.
This winter, join me in keeping warm in a much cooler (pun intended), caring, and fashionable way! We have partnered with Trade for Freedom to provide you with the Freedom Scarf– A simple, beautiful and meaningful way to stay warm this winter.
Please watch the video below of my time spent in Nepal with the women making these scarves for you.
So how does this work?
1) You purchase a Freedom Scarf through Trade for freedom
Perfect for yourself, a friend, your mum, sister, wife, girlfriend, your neighbour’s second-cousin’s-petdog’s-friend’s-niece… (really, who wouldn’t love this)??
2) ‘Beauty For Ashes Nepal’ artisans hand-make your Freedom Scarf
Beauty For Ashes Nepal (BFAN) is an inspiring social business that empowers women through positive, sustainable employment. Each Freedom Scarf is made of 100% up-cycled sari material, meaning no 2 scarves are the same!
You can learn more about the women making your scarves here
3) Profits go towards BFAN breaking the cycle of poverty that fuels human trafficking.
Your purchase creates a demand that gives these women dignified and liberating jobs and goes towards sustainable education and empowerment programs for them and their children. If we hit the goal of buying over 200 scarves, BFAN can provide 2 more women with salaries and benefits for an entire year!
You can learn more about how your purchase contributes to preventing the exploitation of women in Nepal here
Orders close on the 15th of May, and because they are handmade and shipped directly from Nepal, you will receive them 4-6 weeks from placing the order. Get in quick- so you can wear one all through winter!
Thank you for being a part of preventing the exploitation of women in Nepal, and for thinking of others this winter.
I just know after seeing it all so recently … How hard the recovery is gonna be. The infrastructure and the lack of local government support for the people… It just makes it all so much harder. There are expected to be upward of 5000, approaching the 10,000 mark of deaths due to this disaster. A number to a country like Australia that is unfathomable. But when you have been there, seen the densely populated city and mass of life, you can understand.
I’m happy to know world vision are there now and doing good work. But they need our help! There is hope for those who have survived and for more to be rescued. Donate here to World Vision Australia.
Reading this article now about how critical the response efforts are in the first 24 hours from former Social Media Manager at World Vision Australia, Richenda Vermuelen, now Director of ntegrity!
“If you work at a not-for-profit you’re the voice of the people affected. A strong plan of action is measured in hours, not days. Donor attention follows media attention, so your window of opportunity is likely to last only one week (168 hours). Make it count.”
It’s so important we get behind these not for profits.
My friend Bishaka, I met her in Scotland in 2014, is currently in KAthmandu. She has a brother in hospital and her nephew (8 years old pictured below) is also receiving treatment for wounds. She has sent most of her family off to India for safety. She’s sending me photos of scenes and it’s hard to hold back the tears. I am being strong but I just cannot imagine the situation she is in. She’s trained in emergency situations and hopes to get out to more rural areas once they can find a way to travel their as access is the main issue. I will continue to share her stories. This morning she was messaging as 11 more aftershocks came… this is happening through the day and night.
I pray for all these people of Nepal. My memories are nothing but fondness, hope and beauty from this nation. It’s so sad to believe that they are currently living in such a state of terror.
It’s so surreal to have been standing in this spot, just a month ago, in the heart of a bustling ancient city… and for now it to be reduced to rubble. The rich cultural heritage of the city will be hard to repair… but the lives that have been lost are simply irreplaceable.
UPDATE – It’s now 4:30 AM here in Gorkha, Nepal. Managed to sleep well for a few hours this morning though I slept under a tarp in an open field infront of government HQ with villagers afraid to sleep in homes. We had 2 tremors that woke me last night but no damage from them here. My focus today is on continuing to share the story from here, which is that more than 2 DAYS after the quake, there are many villages near my current location where no rescue teams have been able to land despite there being people buried under rubble with up to 70-90% of homes completely destroyed in those villages worst hit. This is because they DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT HELICOPTERS or rescue teams here yet. I can’t tell if that’s because those resources are genuinely unavailable or because they are being focused on Kathmandu and trekkers stuck around Everest etc. Whatever the case, the world needs to get those specialist resources here now where the death toll is certainly set to rise dramatically in coming days.
PLEASE PRAY – that the world would get this message from Gorkha and that I may be effective in helping to share. Pray for strength and wisdom as to how to best act and thank God I’ve somehow kept full 3G reception to keep doing live video interviews with world media. I am truly seeing God guide my efforts far far beyond what I could possibly imagine to achieve by myself and just trying to be a faithful witness to Jesus love amongst these devastated and scared people. God has not forgotten these people buried and trapped in the remote villages around me and nor can we.
AND please pray for my beautiful wife Brittany Darvas and daughter who are safe in Pokhara and starting to help neighbours there. In many ways it’s harder for Britt back there without me and looking after Zippy though we have wonderful Nepali and foreigner friends looking after them.
There’s also an update from Brittany, Matt’s wife in Pokhara, Nepal.
UPDATE: It’s 10pm here and we’ve just had yet another aftershock, almost 60 hours after the earthquake! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement, especially with Matt away! Zipporah and I are doing ok, but obviously still stressed and anxious.
Today we took some supplies up to the house of our milkman, who lives in a village on the hillside next to Pokhara, as his house and many others there are either in ruins or are cracking so they’re having to sleep outside!
Thanks to Lucy for keeping me company (and sane) tonight!
Please continue to pray for Matt , for safety and strength and energy as he has been working day and night!
On a slightly humorous note, not letting Zippy out of arms length means I’ve had to sit her in the highchair in the bathroom when I’m on the toilet, which she finds hilarious!
Lots of media and interviews today – tune in and check out the clips. Will share more updates where possible.
Posted by Emma Lovell on behalf of Matt Darvas. International Media please contact diwa.aquino.gacosta from World Vision International on Skype. For Australian enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts are with World Vision Australia staff member Matt Darvas today as he heads to one of the hardest hit areas by #nepalearthquake. Matt is in the heart of the epicentre near Gorkha and heading to the most remote villages in this region to offer supplies and support.
I’ve been watching news and updates all day and it’s starting to really affect me now the severity of the situation. The reality of the devastation that people are living through is inconceivable. I stood in these locations a few weeks ago… and now these places are rubble. The death told is 3200 and counting. To hear from friends today living through this turmoil is heartbreaking.
We can do something, we can donate and support non profit organisations on the ground to provide relief and supplies to those most in need:
Devastating news yesterday and further this morning as I learn that the country so close to my heart, Nepal, is in mourning. 1800 lives lost and counting as a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Kathmandu, Pokhara and other regions of Nepal. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones and the citizens of Nepal who are as we speak trying to manage the chaos.
It was just one month ago that I was in Nepal trekking to Everest Base Camp with World Vision Australia and Inspired Adventures. We loved exploring the city of Kathmandu and then trekking through the serene and peaceful mountains. Sadly it also looks like 18 people have died on Mt Everest due to an avalanche – part of the Base Camp was buried. The peaceful and comforting place for so many is now reminiscent of a war zone.
YOU CAN HELP!
World Vision Australia have set up a donations page for sending aid to the areas most affected. Organisations such as this need support in these times of need to help the people in these devastated countries.
The Nepal government has declared a state of disaster and has committed to respond in 13 of the worst
affected districts, including Kathmandu. Hospitals have reportedly run out of wound management kits in
the capital and hospitals in districts are struggling. Five sites have been set up to help manage impacted
families and the Indian army has been called on to provide support.
More than 4 million people are thought to be in the affected area. WVIN is praying that the death‐toll
will not climb significantly higher overnight, that aftershocks will be minimal, children will be sheltered
and protected and that relief will come quickly to the people of Nepal following this powerful tremor.
Neighbouring India and Bangladesh also reported a number of deaths and injured due to the earthquake
‐ there are no reports of ADPs affected in either country at this stage.
WVIN currently has 73 projects managed by 205 staff. WVIN currently works through 16 Area
Development Programmes in all five development regions including 10 of the 75 districts of Nepal.
Projects in earthquake preparedness are ongoing in Lalitpur district. WVIN supports 27,000 sponsored
children with sponsors from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland,
and Taiwan. WVIN operates a budget of USD 7.1 million including projects funded by DFAT, DFID and
Sunjuli, World Vision Nepal staff member. Her son is 9 years old — “My son is very terrified. He
does not leave me and lays on my lap. Do not know what to do. I need to go inside the house —
don’t know if it’s safe — but it’s very cold here in the car.
Some photos from my time there, it’s changed dramatically and I fear for the people in the massive efforts it will take to clean up! Visiting my sponsor child in Nepal, Kamala. Seeing my dear friend Sundar. And trekking with amazing guides to Base Camp. My prayers are with you all at this time
After the emotion of meeting my darling Kamala , a little girl in Nepal I have sponsored with my mother for 5.5 years, I was treated to a tour of the local area with the World Vision staff. It’s important with World Vision to not only learn about and meet the child you sponsor but the greater community which is also supported by our generous donations.
In the morning, my first stop was to the ADP office to meet with staff of World Vision. I was met at my hotel by child sponsorship manager, Kiran. He is a kind and sweet man who clearly has a passion for seeing children live a better life. Soon after I met the lovely Absara, a young intern at World Vision. I was the first child sponsor she had met and she was very excited to see my experience. We sat with the manager of the ADP, Mr Rajan and then met with the entire team. I always like this process with world vision. We are all introduced and each person tells their role. I also introduced myself and shared my many experiences with World Vision and my role now as a #WVAblogger for World Vision Australia. Most importantly, I thanked them for their efforts and tireless work. As a sponsor the best part is seeing the lives of our children in foreign countries and how our support helps.
Kiran showed me around and also showed me the folder of Kamala’s entire sponsorship history. It was magnificent to see her development over the time and the correspondence we had had over the years. I also got to see the computer system where they keep all the updates on the children. It’s meticulously detailed and I was so impressed and pleased to see that World Vision are so invested in the children’s lives.
After my visit to kamala’s school we went to another local office. This office was manned by two staff members and they explained their role in more of the nutrition and health side of the projects. They ran Early Childhood Development centres, mothers groups, Outreach Centres for immunizations and childs health and general nutition and health information for the wider community. They have a group called the Unity Society and again this main focus is health. Great to hear of so many programs being run and I would get the chance to see some today.
We went then on some very treacherous and bumpy roads and even had to stop short and walk due to mud and huge divots in the road. We were met by community volunteer, beautiful Padma and walked to amothers group. At the site, they were also building an Early Childhood Development Centre. This is where mothers could take small children and start their education and basic life skills.
Mothers and babies met under a tarp and sat on a mat to greet me. I don’t like to be so formal and separated so I asked to sit amongst them and chat. We talked about their monthly meetings and what they learnt. Some were also members of savings groups, one of my favourite programs run by world vision. Through being a member they can save their own funds into a large pool with other women and take out small loans from the group to fund business growth or help in times of need with chidlrens health and education. It provides financial empowerment and business skills to women in these communities.
The leader of the group was a Governemnt health worker and she was actually the mother of Padma. It was so lovely to see that the World Vision passion and support continues through the generations and really becomes a sustainable part of the community. I asked her questions about her role and what the group is able to achieve. She helps the mothers with health advice and they talk to them about nutrition and caring for their child. They meet once a month to share their stories and learn together. It was sucha pleasure to share time with them.
We next went to visit a school. I love schools!!! This school had 1100 children…. Ummmmm!! They swarmed towards me as we approached and I remembered it was the festival Holi. There was colour flying everywhere and cheeky boys were chasing girls to smudge bright colours to their cheeks. I saw one looking at me slyly so I patted my cheeks and he gladly walked over and smeared pink all over my face. I was inducted to holi and the children roared with laughter.
As I walked into the group and through the grounds, I was surrounded 360 degrees by fascinated children of all ages wanting to catch a glimpse. Another young man approached me, this time with handfuls of red dust. I welcomed him and he really got stuck into putting the colour all over me. Wow! If you’re going to do it, do it well. A few other boys came up and I now had a completely covered face and they found it very amusing. I smudged some colour off my face and patted it on the cheeks of the smaller children around me. I could have played all day. Except, when they started sparing water, we were outta there. My hosts led me upstairs to the teacher’s office to meet with staff.
We sat in a room with six teachers and were joined by another young volunteer for World Vision. We again did the introductions of ourselves and what our roles were. They told me about working with the children and that there were 1100 kids in the school. I was pleased to hear 600 are girls and 500 are boys. So many girls in school is so great. There are approximately 100 registered sponsor children through World Vision at the school. World Vision run teacher training programs as well as the “One Goal” program here. That’s a program for children to play soccer and then take part in other activities such as hygiene, sanitation, child protection and awareness and other such important life skills. It was so nice to see the teachers engaged in the program and working with World Vision to help the children.
Our final visit for the day was to the Outreach Centre, ORC. This is being built at the time and the community project manager was so proud to meet me and show me their work. I was one week too early as they plan on being finished and in business for the community next week. Governemnt health workers will come here and help with immunizations, weighing of children, health checks and running nuritiuon and basic care clinics for mothers nad children. Helath workers and volunteers will go around to the 300 households in the community and tell them about when they can go to the outreach centre. These are extremely important programs for World Vision as it gives people who would otherwise not have it, access to basic health and to education for a healthy child and family.
We returned to the office. A long drive along bumpy roads and then down a busy highway. I stared out the window and let my mind wander. The thing about these project visit days is that it puts you on a whole new plane of awareness. The world is so much bigger than all of us. There are people and places we will never see, there are issues we will never know about and our role in context is so small. But great things start from small beginnings. Through sponsoring one child in a village, you can be a part of a community of supporters that help them to grow and develop for a more quality life.
“Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything.
Do anything. Do SOMETHING!”
– Colleen Patrick – Goudeau
Thank you again World Vision Australia and World Vision Nepal for giving me this opportunity to meet my sponsor and child and see into her world.