My first trip back to Nepal, post 2015 earthquake

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.

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World Vision’s work immediately after the 2015 earthquake

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.

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Dad and I at a conference in Bangladesh, 2011

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.

 

APACHETA: pop-up art exhibition by Melbourne artist, Ross Miller, partnering with World Vision Australia

Travelling to Peru in 2012 was such an epic adventure and bucket list item. I trekked to Machu Picchu and raised funds for Black Dog Institute. I’ve always loved the latino culture and quickly embraced the Peruvian cultures and their vast history of stories and traditions. I loved learning about the Quechuan people and seeing their marks left across the land. The thing that stood out the most was the apacheta. A series of stones in a sculpture like structure.  I left one of these on a high pass, 4400m along the Lares Valley route in memory of my grandmother and the adventure we took on.
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It’s so wonderful to see another organisation that I care so much about showcasing the apachetas and supporting the people of Peru. World Vision Australia (WVA) is partnering with Melbourne artist, Ross Miller, on a pop-up art exhibition of Peruvian inspired sculptures at Wick Studios, Brunswick. Opening speeches will commence at 7pm. Media is invited to attend at anytime.

APACHETA is an exhibition of sculptures made from wood, stone, bronze and ciment fondu, and is influenced by Miller’s many travels throughout Latin America. The apachetas are derived from the Inca tradition of stacking stones as a means of marking sacred sites, identifying trails and paying homage to the Andean earth goddess, Pachamama. ‘Apacheta’ is a Quechuan word for a pile of stones.
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APACHETA is an exhibition of sculptures made from wood, stone, bronze and ciment fondu, and is influenced by Miller’s many travels throughout Latin America. The apachetas are derived from the Inca tradition of stacking stones as a means of marking sacred sites, identifying trails and paying homage to the Andean earth goddess, Pachamama. ‘Apacheta’ is a Quechuan word for a pile of stones.

All sculptures in the exhibition are for sale, with Miller donating net profits to WVA’s Peruvian cook stove project. For every $100 AUD raised, WVA will provide one cook stove, which will directly benefit some of the poorest families in Peru.

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WVA’s Principal Advisor, Environmental Markets and Financing, Dr. Dean Thompson, will speak at the exhibition about the cook stove project and its impact on the economy, health and climate change.

For more information, please visit www.worldvision.com.au/apacheta. The sculptures are available to view at www.rossmillersculptor.com.au

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My epic two days of travel has nothing on that of the Syrian Refugees journey

As I arrived to Munich the other day after more than 45 hours of travel across 5 countries, on 5 planes and in a number of cars and buses, I felt guilty. As I looked out over the beautiful land of Germany from high above, I remembered that below me are hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees travelling by rail, road and foot in the hope of securing safety.

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My view as I arrived to Germany on the 10th September 2015

A woman carries a boy after crossing Greece's border into Macedonia near Gevgelija, Macedonia, August 22, 2015. Thousands of migrants stormed across Macedonia's border on Saturday, overwhelming security forces who threw stun grenades and lashed out with batons in an increasingly futile bid to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe. Some had spent days in the open with little or no access to food or water after Macedonia on Thursday declared a state of emergency and sealed its borders to migrants, many of them refugees from war in Syria and other conflicts in the Middle East. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski  - RTX1P7YZ

A woman carries a boy after crossing Greece’s border into Macedonia near Gevgelija, Macedonia, August 22, 2015. Thousands of migrants stormed across Macedonia’s border on Saturday, overwhelming security forces who threw stun grenades and lashed out with batons in an increasingly futile bid to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe. Some had spent days in the open with little or no access to food or water after Macedonia on Thursday declared a state of emergency and sealed its borders to migrants, many of them refugees from war in Syria and other conflicts in the Middle East. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski – RTX1P7YZ

How can I sit here and bemoan my travel, travel that will lead me to see my dear friends and enjoy a holiday. I chose my modes of travel. I have the funds to make my journey more comfortable. I also have the voice to complain or to raise an issue when I have one. How can I be upset about a nervous flyer and a crying child on a plane, these people are surrounded by fear and desperation as they worry for their futures.

Afghan immigrants land at a beach on the Greek island of Kos after crossing a portion of the south-eastern Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece on a dinghy early May 27, 2015. Despite the bad weather at least a dingy with over thirty migrants made the dangerous voyage to Greece. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1EPUP

Afghan immigrants land at a beach on the Greek island of Kos after crossing a portion of the south-eastern Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece on a dinghy early May 27, 2015. Despite the bad weather at least a dingy with over thirty migrants made the dangerous voyage to Greece. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX1EPUP

Tears began to roll down my face as I remembered this video I saw the other day. Germans welcomed Syrian refugees who arrived by train to Munich after a long and difficult journey. What compassion, what care, such love!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34162844

BBC Video

BBC Video

Syria Crisis Response – statistics (Courtesy of World Vision Australia)

  • Total number in need of assistance in Syria and neighbouring countries: over 16 million (UNOCHA)
  • Refugees: 4 million (UNHCR)
  • Internally Displaced Persons:6 million (UNOCHA)
  • People in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria : 12.2 million (UN)
  • Global humanitarian appeal for Syria crisis for 2015: US$7.4 billion
  • Australia’s ‘fair share of the global appeal for 2015: AUD$144 million, but it has only pledged AUD$20 million for 2015.
  • Number of people killed in Syrian conflict to date: 220,000 (INGOs)
A baby cries at the border line dividing Macedonia and Greece August 21, 2015. At least 1,000 migrants and refugees pressed against Macedonian police lines on the Greek-Macedonian border on Friday and at least 10 people appeared to faint in the crush. People could be heard screaming and medical workers raced to treat those who passed out or were hurt. The crush ensued after police let several hundred through into Macedonia, having kept them out since Thursday under an emergency decree. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski - RTX1P3HW

A baby cries at the border line dividing Macedonia and Greece August 21, 2015. At least 1,000 migrants and refugees pressed against Macedonian police lines on the Greek-Macedonian border on Friday and at least 10 people appeared to faint in the crush. People could be heard screaming and medical workers raced to treat those who passed out or were hurt. The crush ensued after police let several hundred through into Macedonia, having kept them out since Thursday under an emergency decree. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski – RTX1P3HW

I am so blessed to travel and to see the world and to understand it is bigger than I am. It’s easy to get caught up in your day to day and worry about things that seem important. Please take a moment today to count your blessings – think of the things you do have. The greatest thing I know I have is my freedom. I live in a country free of war and I am able to live my life in peace. For so many, this is not a reality.

Please donate now to World Vision Australia’s Syria appeal

We saw that our voices have power. The Australian Government under public pressure have agreed to take in 12000 Syrian refugees, over and above the existing refugee quota. They’ve also agreed to give $44 million in aid support within Syria to those affected who remain.You can sign the petition here to lobby the Australian Government to give more support to Syrian Refugees: https://action.savethechildren.org.au/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1917&ea.campaign.id=41897

A Syrian refugee holds her child in her arms as she sits in the port of the Greek island of Kos waiting to be registered and move with her family to the "Eleftherios Venizelos" vessel August 15, 2015. United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) called on Greece to take control of the "total chaos" on Mediterranean islands, where thousands of migrants have landed. About 124,000 have arrived this year by sea, many via Turkey, according to Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR director for Europe. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis - RTX1OCU3

A Syrian refugee holds her child in her arms as she sits in the port of the Greek island of Kos waiting to be registered and move with her family to the “Eleftherios Venizelos” vessel August 15, 2015. United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) called on Greece to take control of the “total chaos” on Mediterranean islands, where thousands of migrants have landed. About 124,000 have arrived this year by sea, many via Turkey, according to Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR director for Europe. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis – RTX1OCU3

World Vision’s response

World Vision, Oxfam and Save the Children have launched a joint public campaign appealing the Australian Government to:

  1. Increase Australia’s overall intake of refugees to 30,000 – not just Syrians, but for refugees from all countries seeking safety,
  2. Commit its fair share of humanitarian aid for Syria and neighbouring countries, and
  3. Increase diplomatic efforts towards securing a peace agreement to end the conflict in Syria.

Sign the petition here!

Some of my moaning on Facebook. I laugh at my ignorance and my frivolous “first world problems”.

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I know when my journey ends. I know when I’ve reached my destination and when I can rest. Tonight I hold in my thoughts and prayers those who are still travelling, who do not know where the final destination is or if there will be safety there.

Note: I am part of the World Vision Australia Blog Ambassadors program, #WVAbloggers. I am currently undertaking a one year contract with World Vision in the media team as a separate role to my World Vision job role. My views are my own.

My Top 6 photos from reaching Everest Base Camp

I guess I’ve held off on posting these since the terrible devastation that was the #nepalearthquake. I had planned to write post after post about my experience and share my story of reaching Everest Base Camp with Team World Vision Australia in March 2015. But 3 weeks after I returned… disaster struck and my focus was changed.

As the Nepalese people begin to gain some strength and encourage tourists to go to Nepal and see their beautiful country, I want to share some of my most special moments.

I advise checking with companies such as Royal Mountain Travel for the possibilities of safe travel and locations that are accessible. It’s best to be safe but I hope that sooner rather than later people can return to see the beauty in the people and the country that is Nepal.

My Top 6 from my Trek to Everest Base Camp with World Vision Australia. 

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#everestbasecamptrek2015 we’re so close now…. 🙂

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The view out my window the morning of trekking to #everest from #Lobuche … Yes! #icicles -19!!! #everestbasecamptrek2015

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Jumping for joy over #prayerflags at #everestbasecamp! @worldvisionaus $98,000 raised! @inspiredadventures thank you! #everestbasecamptrek2015

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My incredible guides from Royal Mountain Travel Amar, Gopal and Bikram! We can’t do it without these amazing guys! Namaste and Dhan ya vaad.Welcome_to_my_mountains__Represent__worldvisionaus_._Between__Lobuche____gorekshep__everestbasecamptrek2015

Welcome to my mountains! Represent @worldvisionaus . Between #Lobuche &#gorekshep#everestbasecamptrek2015Team__worldvisionaus__inspiredadventures__everestbasecamptrek2015_we_did_it___

Team @worldvisionaus @inspiredadventures #everestbasecamptrek2015 we did it!!!

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Here is the whole #WorldVision #EverestBaseCampTrek2015 team standing proudly at their goal – 5,360m up in the #Himalayas! The team raised over $100,000 for World Vision’s work in #Nepal – an incredible achievement!@inspiredadventures

Working with World Vision Australia

It is my profound joy to share with you that I am working with World Vision Australia in the media team on a full time three month contract.

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I have taken on this position as of May 25th 2015 and it is a wonderful opportunity. I’m working with incredible people in the media team to share the incredible work of World Vision Australia.

During this time, I will still be running my business Lovelly Communications in a low key manner. Please do feel free to contact me about your marketing, PR and social media needs for contracts beginning in the near future or further down the track.

I will continue to be a member of the World Vision Blog Ambassador team and to share my experiences in the field when visiting with World Vision in various countries. I will also be continuing my sponsorship of Kamala in Nepal through the child sponsorship program at World Vision Australia. I have been sponsoring children through World Vision for 10 years and this is a program I plan to support both personally and professionally for a long time to come.

This is a declaration that all views are my own shared on my blog and social media channels.

Thank you to everyone for their support in taking on this role. It’s an incredible opportunity to work for a cause and an organization I am truly passionate about.

Written by Emma Lovell, Director Lovelly Communications and owner “The Traveller Em” blog. 

The devastation in Nepal continues – how can we help?

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.

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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.

Read more about the relief efforts of World Vision Australia here. 

You can DONATE and support relief efforts in Nepal with World Vision here. They are distributing water, tents, tarpaulins, blankets and food.

Photo by Jan Møller Hansen

Photo by Jan Møller Hansen

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.

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Photo by Jan Møller Hansen

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.

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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.

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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

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Freedom Scarf – Purchase a scarf and set a life free in Nepal

Today I have purchased a beautiful handmade scarf from Nepal in the name of fair and ethical fashion trade in third world countries. You can learn more about this wonderful initiative via Trade for Freedom and the blog of Matt Darvas. 

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.

freedom scarf

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)??

This is an exclusive offer. Click here to order your scarf now

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.

matt darvas

Matt Darvas, living in Nepal.

If you wish to help those suffering in Nepal and provide aid supplies for those affected by the Nepal Earthquake. Click here to support World Vision Australia.