We’re delighted to say the medical camp in remote Thulopatel village was an incredible success. Thanks to the dedication and organisation of our local staff more than 1130 patients were seen and treated over the course of 3 days, with some patients travelling days to reach the camp to receive professional medical advice that is normally unavailable in the mountains. On the first day the doctors saw over 530 patients! Quite a lot of these were cataract operations, including one man whose cataracts had been so bad he had been effectively blind for 6 years. There were also many hernias treated, growths removed and teeth taken out. Our company videographer, Olly Pemberton, was able to join them for the three day camp where he filmed some of the great work and listened to some incredible stories from the local people he met, some of whom had travelled for days to reach the camp. He found it to be a truly uplifting experience and is currently putting together all the footage he obtained to show at our Himalaya: One Year On presentation on 24th May in London.
Primary School Rebuild Complete
At the same time the first of two primary schools we are funding was completed. Risankhumani Primary School, in the district of Sindhupalchowk, was formally opened on the 21st March. Before the earthquake reduced their school to rubble 86 children attended, but the hope is that the new school plus kitchen (also funded by Exodus) will attract more children to come to class once the new term starts. We are also pleased to report that the second primary school, Sarbasudar, is now well under construction.
Finally, we would like to mention two of our donors who have recently contributed to the aid effort. We’d like to thank 92 year old Mary Wilson who knitted more than 20 beautiful baby shawls for new born babies which were distributed at the medical camp. Many thanks also to Charles Eickhoff and his friends from Shirenewton in Monmouthshire who paid for and carried out replacement solar reflectors on his recent Everest trek. They had time to fit these new reflectors onto damaged solar cookers.
Update 16th February
Some positive news from Nepal on the border blockade between Nepal and India. The blockade has affected every aspect of daily life. It has not only affected petrol supplies but cooking fuel has become increasingly scarce making the situation even harder for a population still recovering from last year’s earthquakes.
Meanwhile our plans for the medical camp are progressing, and when our Kathmandu Base Manager, Valerie Parkinson, returns in a few weeks’ time she will report back on the schools rebuild we are funding in conjunction with Nepal Youth Foundation.Some positive news from Nepal on the border blockade between Nepal and India. The blockade has affected every aspect of daily life. It has not only affected petrol supplies but cooking fuel has become increasingly scarce making the situation even harder for a population still recovering from last year’s earthquakes. Meanwhile our plans for the medical camp are progressing, and when our Kathmandu Base Manager, Valerie Parkinson, returns in a few weeks’ time she will report back on the schools rebuild we are funding in conjunction with Nepal Youth Foundation.
Exodus have also recently funded the supply and distribution of 280 blankets and 200 woolly hats to remote earthquake affected villages in Dolakha – although these photos were taken on a sunny day temperatures have plummeted in the foothills. As wood for heating becomes harder to find people need all the warm clothing they can get.
Niraj Shrestha, who works in the Exodus UK office, organised a fund raising lunch here in Balham. The money raised went towards temporary shelters for five Dalit (low caste) families in Thulopatel, including one young couple with a tiny newborn baby, just 8 days old when the shelter was completed.
There is a still a long way to go and speaking to our leaders and teams it is clear they are desperate to get back on their own two feet. The best way of helping them in the longer term remains the ongoing success of tourism as an industry. It provides jobs, pumps money into the economy that reaches parts of Nepal few other industries can. And, if done on a sustainable basis, will help Nepal recover fully from the awful aftermath of the big earthquakes.
Once again we would like to say a huge thank you to all who have supported us and our friends and colleagues in Nepal. We also know that some of you are continuing to organise fund raising events and we would love to hear all about it - please do email us at [email protected]
Future Travel to Nepal (Updated 08 July 2015) Exodus are pleased to announce that the British Foreign Office has now updated its travel advice to Nepal, and no longer advise against all but essential travel to the whole of the country. They are still warning against travel to the most northern areas, including the Everest and Manang regions, but most of Nepal is now open to visitors, including all areas on our Highlights of Nepal and Classic Nepal Ride and others.
If you are interested in or booked on one of our treks to Everest or Manang, we will naturally keep you updated over the coming weeks, but we remain confident that we will able to run the vast majority of our scheduled departures during the main trekking season between October and May. Our local team are continually updating us on the situation on the ground and Valerie Parkinson, our Himalayan operations manager, will be taking time out from trekking in Ladakh this summer, to visit Nepal in mid-August to assess the situation further.
If you would like to speak to our team handling the situation, please call our Customer Operations Department on +44 (0)20 8772 3747.
Our Local Staff Despite the level of destruction and very tragic loss of life, we are pleased to report that all our customers and staff who were in Nepal at the time are safe and well. However some of our staff have suffered significant damage to their home villages and we will be focusing our support on those areas primarily. Many people have asked about trek staff they met on past trips to Nepal, while we are not in touch with everyone, everyone who has worked for us in the past and we are still in contact with is also fine.
Our local teams are keen to welcome tourists back to Nepal as soon as possible to bring in much needed income to struggling families. We want to support our Nepali partners with future business as soon as we can, but of course we only want to do so when it is safe and appropriate for our groups to travel. Pete will be discussing how Exodus can help in rebuilding lives, as well as to plan how we manage future groups as Nepal gets back on its feet.
Exodus Fundraising, Support and Event Exodus has supported Nepal and wider Himalaya for many years through our Himalayan Communities fund, with the help of our charity partner Friends of Conservation. On Monday 27th April we launched our Nepal Earthquake appeal and have managed to raise over £180,000. We are totally blown away by the kindness of you all. We feel incredibly privileged to have such generous friends, who are as passionate about the beautiful country of Nepal and its people as we are. Thank you.
While many large organisations are doing an amazing job with immediate relief aid, particularly in Kathmandu, we are in a strong position to help in more remote areas over the medium to long term. We may use some funds to provide quick relief if we can see a way of doing that in the mountain communities, but most will be spent helping these villages rebuild their communities, homes, schools and lives, over the coming months. We will keep you updated on what we are doing.
Some words from Pete "I fell in love with the Himalaya, Nepal and the Nepali people when I first visited over 35 years ago, and I have taken every opportunity to go back since. Like many of you I have been deeply distressed watching this cruel saga unfold and have been in close contact with personal friends and colleagues as they stoically came to terms with the new reality in Kathmandu and the mountains. Our job over the last few days has been to ensure that all our staff are accounted for and that we get our customers home safely as soon as possible. There is still work to do on that, but I am now planning to travel to Nepal to better understand how and where we can make the biggest immediate positive impact in the mountain communities. However, as is the way with these great natural disasters, it can take months, if not years to get the worst affected communities back on their feet and this is where we see our best and most sustainable way to help. By supporting rural schools, delivering running water into the villages and improving the efficiency of stoves and solar cookers we can help these communities recover more quickly. Lastly I would like to add my personal thanks to every last one of you who so generously donated to our fund and we will endeavour to use it as effectively and efficiently as possible over the coming months." Pete Burrell, MD - Exodus
12 June 2015 What Next - Exodus' Three Phase Plan Following Pete and Valerie’s visit to Nepal a few days after the Earthquake struck, it became clear that we needed to react in three distinct phases with our efforts to help this beautiful country to get back on its feet. We will be working with our local partners in Nepal, and using the incredibly generous donations and support from our travellers, throughout this process. Phase one is already underway, and phase two will begin in October.
Phase One Immediate aid distribution, helped by our staff in Nepal, delivering practical aid to the communities that our staff come from. This includes shelter in the form of tarpaulins, basic foodstuffs, mattresses, cooking utensils and medical supplies to help fight the risk of disease and infection.
Phase Two Will follow after the monsoon season, when we will begin rebuilding destroyed houses, using local builders to create jobs and put money back into the local economy.
Phase Three Long term investment and support for these communities: sustainable smokeless stove initiatives, improving access to schools, clean water and medicine, including funding a medical camp in the mountains.
29 May 2015 Following the devastating earthquake of 25th April, those booked to travel to Nepal will no doubt be concerned about their trip.
As an organisation which is passionate about the country and its people, Exodus feels a strong sense of duty to support Nepal while it tries to get back on to its feet. Alongside the fundraising and relief work we have been coordinating, we are aware that we can make a difference to some of the large number of people involved in the tourism and trekking industry if we are able to continue to operate our trips to Nepal. While we are hopeful that this will be possible for the autumn trekking season and beyond, we need to allow time for more detailed assessments to be made before we will be in a position to make a decision about future operations.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against non-essential travel to Nepal, but we expect this advice to be reviewed over the summer and updated as appropriate. While we hope the advice against non-essential travel will be lifted before the main trekking season, we always follow FCO advice and we will make any changes to our itineraries as necessary.
All those with bookings to Nepal will be written to before the end of Friday 29th May 2015 with details of how we will manage the on-going uncertainty around the current travel advice.
27 May 2015 It’s all happening in Nepal as our leaders have been working tirelessly to deliver relief supplies to remote villages. 2,000 tarpaulins finally arrived in Kathmandu on Friday and our leaders immediately leapt into action to get them to where they’re needed most. Lakpa Lama has been in charge of distribution, ensuring each leader has 100 tarpaulins to take back to their respective districts and villages they grew up in, many of which have suffered badly.
One example is the village of Mirge, where many houses have been destroyed. Sailas, who comes from Mirge, distributed sacks of rice to villagers who needed it, later followed by Ajay, who has given out the newly arrived tarpaulins, plus soap, salt and shovels to 40 families to help them get back on their feet.
It’s great progress, but we can’t stop here. There is so much more work to be done, and we’re still fundraising. Our very own Customer Operations Executive Niraj Shresta in the London office hosted a grand fundraising lunch of epic proportions last Friday.
Helped by his wife, his family and a number of colleagues, Niraj masterminded a traditional Nepalese meal and managed to raise £776.
21 May 2015 More positive steps in Nepal! We’ve had news of more aid heading out, this time in the Langtang region which was decimated by the first earthquake. Along with HAMWWA (High Altitude Welfare Workers Association), Exodus has been distributing sacks of rice, sleeping bags and tarpaulin to protect the people here from the elements.
In addition a second cargo of medical supplies is now on its way to Kathmandu ready to be distributed. This update comes from our very own Customer Operations Executive Niraj Shrestha:
“The essential medical supplies sent from the UK with Pete [see update from 05 May] have been distributed to hospitals in Kathmandu and surrounding area with assistance from the Rotary Club of Kasthamandap. These hospitals include Patan Hospital and Dhulikhel Hospital Dental Department. Medical supplies were collected by Niraj from our Customer Operations department and his fellow Nepalese here in London (Ishara Team). There is a large cargo of over a ton of more emergency relief supplies currently on its way to Nepal via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. Hopefully some of these will reach our leaders in time for their next round of relief work in the coming days.”
18 May 2015 It may be a grey Monday morning in the UK but in Nepal there is good news. Over the weekend our leaders have been out distributing aid to remote villages, which might otherwise have been overlooked during the relief effort.
One of our most popular guides, Keshar, spent the weekend delivering tarpaulin, mosquito nets and basic food supplies to two badly damaged villages in north east Nepal. Two leaders, Gele and Jangbu, have been in the Okhaldunga District, where they arrived at Gele’s village with 15 tents for the families who had lost their homes, sacks of rice and supplies.
Exodus has always been proud of our leaders, but never more so than under circumstances like this. Their kindness, generosity and desire to help others is humbling and it’s an honour and a pleasure to work with them. We will bring you more updates on their efforts and how our fundraising total is being spent.
12 May 2015 We’re all distressed to hear that there has been another earthquake in Nepal this morning. Pete, our MD, landed back in the UK first thing today but has been on the phone to staff in Nepal already. We have no passengers in Nepal at the moment, and from what we know so far, we believe our current staff are all safe. We will update you further when we know more, and we will continue to make sure your generous donations are used to help those in need both now, and over the coming months.
08 May 2015 Words from Pete in Nepal today “I just had a very humbling experience visiting a rural village just outside the valley and a town just inside it. I think I said that Kathmandu is comparatively untouched except for the temples. Well a village we went to today with 40 odd houses had over half totally unliveable in. The village had not been visited by anyone - official or otherwise - but we managed to get together some tarpaulin, basic medicines, and sacks of rice. It helped but won’t for long. Our Nepali leaders visited every family and we gave what we had to the most needy. Small but a start. On the way back we stopped at Sankhu - a small historic town I remember walking through a few years ago. It was beautiful with old temples and buildings lining the narrow streets, and traders on each corner of a thriving community. But this is not what we saw now. It felt like walking into a war zone.
Most of the centre of the town was in ruins, a couple of ladies were just sat on the rubble with shocked looks on their faces having lost everything; including family members. Val, Karma and I walked through this devastation in silence as the full force of what has been unleashed here really hit home for the first time. A day none of us will ever forget.
What next? Well we have redoubled efforts with the team to identify what is actually needed in the main villages where many of our trekking staff live. We have sourced some better quality tarp from India but it will take a week to get to Kathmandu and the rains are already building up. Everyone is so keen to help but it is simply so difficult to get anything done quickly.”
07 May 2015: Our Managing Director Pete Burrell arrived in Kathmandu on 6th May to support our local team with immediate relief efforts and to plan our longer term support. Thanks to Niraj, who works in our Customer Operations team, and his family and friends, for getting all this kit together.
05 May 2015: Five Exodus kit bags full of emergency medical supplies will be making their way to Nepal with our MD Pete Burrell tonight.
Whilst there, Pete and our local partners will assess how we can most effectively spend the incredible sum of money raised by our recent Earthquake Appeal with our partner organisation, Friends of Conservation. Thanks again to everyone who has donated - your support means so much to us and the people of Nepal.
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