The Himalayan Community Project, Nepal & India
O U R S T O R Y
The Himalayas has always been a region very close to our hearts. After all, it’s where we began trekking in the 1970s. Our long-standing networks throughout this region means that we can support isolated mountain communities that large aid organisations often can’t reach.
Our Sustainable Tourism efforts started with a tiny pot of money and a pot of paint back in the 1980s, when legendary Exodus leader, Valerie Parkinson, began visiting the homes and villages of our trekking staff. Valerie’s trusted connections with these local communities led to our very first fundraiser for improving the living conditions of local Nepalese children. This blazed the trail for decades of sustainably led community-based projects, which still, to this day, make Exodus a market leader in Sustainable Tourism.
Our focus in the Himalayas has always been on small-scale, practical projects that centre on provisions for basic resources. This includes providing fresh water and sustainable wood supplies, supporting children’s educational needs, empowering women, and helping communities preserve or improve their environment whilst still ensuring long-term economic benefit.
O U R P R O J E C T S T H E N
Set up in 2006, the small tree nursery in Braga was one of our early environmental projects in the Himalayas. A local couple donated a field, and they collect seeds every year and raise saplings to plant out on the hillsides, or to give to local schools, monasteries, or other lodge owners with spare land. We support the couple who still look after the nursery.
Other earlier achievements have been:
- More than 50 solar cookers installed across teahouses in the Everest region. Cookers were also donated to The Sir Edmund Hillary Hospital and School in Kunde and Khumjung, the porter shelters in both Thyangboche and GorakShep and the monastery in Thyangboche.
- 139 smokeless stoves have been installed in Thulopatel village in the Jiri area, where many of our trekking staff come from.
- We have also built two classrooms in one of the village schools in Thulopatel and provided water pipes and taps in the same village so that every house is close to a standpipe.
- We have donated desks and chairs to schools in Thulopatel and Gaire Mudhe.
- In the village of Danda Kharka we provided water pipes, taps and cement for their water project, we helped the villagers get connected to a local hydro-power project and supplied poles for the electric wires.
- We funded an all-season greenhouse for a school for disabled children in Ladakh.
- We funded a girl’s toilet in a school in Jitpur in Nepal.
Our biggest achievement to date
- After the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in 2015, we raised over £270,000 in a fantastic response from so many clients, colleagues, and partners, which enabled us to provide urgent aid to help our local staff and their families.
- We ran a medical camp in the remote village of Thulopatel and together with Nepal Youth Foundation, we funded the rebuilding of 6 schools.
- We gave money to over 80 of our local staff to help towards the cost of rebuilding their homes.
- Our final earthquake help was help towards the building of a health care and birthing centre in the remote village of Chyamthang. This was finished in 2020 and the first baby was born there during the pandemic.
You can read about all our projects in our annual newsletters.
O U R P R O J E C T S NOW
Thanks to the tremendous generosity of our clients, we continue to support a wide variety of causes in both the Nepalese and Indian Himalayas.
Freedom Kit Bags, Nepal
Freedom Kit Bags are eco-friendly, sustainable, hygienic sanitary wear and ‘kit’ in a bag, that release women and girls from the cultural and physical constraints of menstruation and enhance their health. It gives liberty of movement and allows uninterrupted education and offers empowerment.
The Exodus Foundation have been working with Freedom Kit Bags since 2017 and we have donated over £50,000 which has funded over 2,000 Freedom Kit Bags. The funds also aided the setup of two sewing centres in Kodari village and in Kathmandu, so that women can make their own kitbags. The Freedom Kit Bag sewing room in Kathmandu has produced almost 1,000 Freedom Kit Bags, most of which have already been distributed.
During the dreadful floods of 2021 in Sindapulchowk, the Exodus Foundation extended their sponsorship to include food bags, cooking pots, shawls, and hygiene kits alongside the distribution of 577 Freedom Kit Bags. We will be continuing our work with and support of Freedom Kit Bags going forward in 2022.
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A freedom kit bag distribution in a girl’s school
Kyanjin Gompa Old People’s Home, Nepal
In Kyanjin gompa, in the upper Langtang Valley at an altitude of over 4,000m, there is a small old people’s home. Currently, there are 5 elderly people living here, all of whom lost their families in the 2015 earthquake. Although they have a room here, they are unable to create income to buy food and they cannot collect wood or water for cooking, and some are unable to cook for themselves. We paid for a carer for a year and now we help with buying clothes, food, bedding, and wood for them.
Residents of Kyanjin Gompa Old People’s Home
Angels’ children’s home, Nepal
Angel’s is a children’s home in Patan, Nepal and there are currently 21 children living here. Dr Rosa and Dr Ian Matheson were the founders of Friends of Angel’s in 2009. Working with many friends and supporters in the UK, they raise the money to pay for the food, house rent and education of the children. We fund £400 twice a year, which pays for school uniforms, winter clothes, schoolbooks, or other items the children need. During the pandemic, we also provided food aid.
We give an annual donation of £500 to HAMWWA (High Altitude Workers Welfare Association). This pays for the education of 5 children whose fathers have died either on expeditions or whilst trekking.
Women’s Eco Cafes and felted handicrafts, Ladakh, Northern India
In the Marka Valley, a popular trekking route in Ladakh, we have funded the set up of three Eco Cafes Hankar, Pensi and Kaya. Each is run by a local women’s group and serves locally made food and drink, plus safe, filtered drinking water and good organic coffee. The local women are also trained in felted handicrafts which they sell in the cafes and homestays. You can visit these cafes on our Markha Valley trek in Ladakh. The Eco Cafes are closed in the winter season and have been closed during the pandemic, we hope to open the cafes again in summer 2022.
Women’s group in an eco-café in Markha Valley, Ladakh
Ranbirpura Community Hall, Ladakh, Northern India
Ranbirpura is a small community of 26 families. There is no temple in the village, which means the people here have communal space for family gatherings, village social events or religious occasions. Exodus has been helping with small donations every year since 2013 and we are pleased to announce that during the pandemic the villagers from Ranbirpura gave their time and the temple/community hall is now completed from the outside and almost completed inside. In 2022 we will donate the last £200 to help finish the inside.
Ranbirpura Community Hall
Karma’s Food Packages
In March 2020, the tourism industry in Nepal was hit hard by the pandemic. It resulted in a huge rise in the number of unemployed and homeless in Kathmandu. The ‘Bread Project’ was our initial response to help people in Nepal needing food. During Nepal’s lockdown, our local partner in Kathmandu, Karma Lama, started baking bread to sell, giving away leftovers to those living on the streets.
The Exodus Foundation started to fund Karma to expand his efforts. More bread was baked and three of our local leaders (Bikash, Kumar and Sukman) helped distribute the food parcels when it was safe to do so. Over 10 weeks we funded 1,000 food parcels at a cost of £1 per parcel which went to the homeless and vulnerable across Kathmandu.
Exodus Foundation Scholarship
Sarita Praja was chosen for the Exodus scholarship for 2020. She is studying to be a nurse at the Nightingale Nursing College Lalitpur. Her 3-year course began in November 2020. Due to the pandemic, her classes have been a mixture of online and in school. She has been doing practical training in a hospital in Kathmandu and is waiting for her first-year exams. She loves the course and after a nervous start in the hospital, she has enjoyed the practical side of the course. We will be sponsoring Sarita in her second year of training.
Sarita and her friends during hospital training
Tree planting in Ladakh
In 2019 the Exodus Foundation teamed up with Sankalp Taru for Project Green Leh Ladakh (Tress for Livelihood). The aim is to plant mostly fruit trees and increase green cover in the cold high-altitude desert of Ladakh. In November 2019 the Exodus Foundation funded 4,000 saplings which were taken to Ladakh and stored over the winter in bunkers. Due to the pandemic, the planting out was delayed until May 2020 and the locals managed to plant the 4,000 trees in 7 villages in western Ladakh.
In November 2020, through the Exodus Foundation Community Kickstart fund, a further 250 saplings were taken to Ladakh and in April 2021 they were planted out on the land of two of our Ladakhi staff in Ranbirpura and Karu. A further 500 saplings have been taken to Ladakh in November 2021 and will be stored in bunkers over the winter to be planted out on land of our Ladakhi trekking staff in April 2022.
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Tree planting in Ladakh
Food parcels and ongoing help for trekking staff in Nepal and India
As we moved into 2021 it became obvious that international travel would not start again. Our regular trekking staff in Nepal (at least 78) plus those in Ladakh and the Indian Himalaya (approximately 20) were beginning to struggle without the income from trekking. The Exodus Foundation launched a COVID Emergency Relief Appeal as one of our Community Kickstart Projects to which we had a fantastic response. Between June 2021 and January 2022, we provided over 1,000 food packages for our staff in Nepal, Ladakh and the Indian Himalaya.
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Download the current Himalayan Community Project Newsletter for more information regarding Exodus’ involvement and the projects.
How You Can Help
Your contributions really do make a huge difference to the communities we aim to help. Here are a few ways you can donate:
Visit – come on one of Exodus’ Nepal and Ladakh holidays and you will have the opportunity to see our work in action.
Donate – you can donate any leftover rupees you may have after your trip in a special collection box at the Royal Singi Hotel in Kathmandu, or you can donate online.
You can either contact our Himalayan expert Valerie Parkinson, who manages all our Himalayan Community Support projects (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can contact email@example.com.
At Home In The Mountains: Flat Felting Community Project
Set up by Valerie Parkinson, Flat Felting is one of the initiatives that make up the Exodus Travels Foundation’s Himalayan Community Projects. They aim to empower women, give them alternative sources of income, especially during the winter months when the snow limits what they can do in their villages.
Himalayan Community Blogs
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