Photos in slideshow: Elselien te Hennepe, Murari Sharma, Lisa McClellan, Dan Mazur, John Vavruska, & Morris Prokop. For caption information on these photos, please visit our Service Trek photo gallery.
1. The weather during the entire trek was fantastic and we never received a single drop of rain, nor a flake of snow. The days were warm and sunny and the nights were cool, with occasional small patches of frost on the ground each morning. However, it never really dropped below freezing.
Thank you very much!!
2. On 22 November, after a long visit in Khinji Phalante and a night camping beside the friendly police station, our caravan of people from all walks of life, from sherpas, to oil men, to nurses and engineers, spanning an age range of more than 60 years and 4 generations, walked for 7 hours down through gorgeous green hills to the village of Saipu, where we caught a bus to Kathmandu. It was an exciting and bumpy bus ride, taking 10 hours. All of us were glad to get back to Kathmandu for a hot shower, comfortable bed, and delicious 5-Star hotel buffet breakfast.
3. On 21 November, we said our goodbyes to all of our wonderful friends in Dhaurkharka and walked west through the rolling green hills for 7 hours to visit the high school at Khinji Phalante where the three girls from Patale who wish to become teachers, Mingma, Yangie and Kandu are in attendance. It was an enlightening visit and the locals put on a rather elaborate dance programme for us. At one point, all of us were dancing around in a circle with all of the teachers, bureaucrats, and the school children.
The girl's teachers told us the girl's performance is "moderate", which might be considered "poor". We found out they will have their first exam next week and upon inquiry, the girls told us the worrisome news that they have not studied at all and are not prepared for this exam. Not surprising, as this is the first high school exam they have ever taken and their parents have had little, if any education.
We visited the girls living abode, which is a tiny hovel under the eaves of an abandoned looking village "hotel" 30 minutes walk each way from Khinji Phalante. It's far from the high school. We decided they should move closer to the school so they can have more time to focus on their studies. Also, we decided these girls need after-school tutoring so they can do the remedial work they need to improve their performance in school, develop good study habits, etcetera. These are things that are sorely lacking after their many years of school nonattendance in their village due to years of political disturbances and threat of kidnapping that left their families feeling it was unsafe to send their daughters to school. Fortunately, nowadays those problems are gone and the region is entirely secure and safe so people can move about freely without worries.
4. Our hosts in Patale Dhaurakharka presented an elaborate Sherpa dancing ceremony for us on the night of the 20th. It was quite impressive and we were greatly honoured.
5. On the morning of the 20th, a group of us walked to the neighbouring village of Chhermading. 700 people live there, and they don't receive many foreign visitors, if any. Their school has 300 students of ages 4-18 and goes up to class 8. They have 8 teachers. We met the members of the school management committee. They are very keen to make an addition to their school and add classes 9 and 10. This would make their school the only high-school in the district and enable students to take the school-leaving-certificate exam, a college entrance requirement. Currently such students have to walk 1 day to the nearest high-school, a hardship for the students and their families, who are seldom able to afford boarding costs, in addition to the difficulty of separation from their young children. For this reason, it seems few students in this district complete high school. During our meeting with the school officials, we agreed to try and locate funds for the new school buildings, supplies, and teacher’s salaries required.
We gave the children at Chermading School the remaining blankets and hats kindly made and donated by the wonderful students and teachers and staff of Shaker Junior High School.
6. On the morning of the 20th, Katherine and Deha visited the upper primary school in Dhaurakharka, where they have 60 students ages 4-18 in classes 1-5. They practiced their ABCs, met the children and gave additional pencil-prizes for those children who were more able to answer questions correctly.
7. Later on the 19th, we visited the Dhaurakharka School down by the river and taught class to 45 children ages 4-14 in classes 1-3. We covered mathematics, Nepali language, English language, Sherpa language, Nepali and English writing skills, drawing, and even had a small arts seminar, making, decorating and then flying paper airplanes constructed from coloured paper.
We met each child and asked their name, age, class level and village location. During that time we cursorily examined them for health issues. We recommended they visit the health clinic if they exhibited any.
We gave all of the children pencils and commended the teachers on their good work.
8. On the morning of the 19th we had a very fascinating prayer ceremony on top of the hill at the village temple complete with chanting monks, banging cymbals and drums, burning incense, prayer scarves and amulets, etc.
9. Katherine has seen about 40 patients in 2 days at the Patale-Daurkharkha health clinic. She is planning to phone in a dispatch in an hour or two to update everyone about all of their health conditions. We learned that this is the only health clinic in the entire district of Patale, which now has a population of 6000-10,000 people. There is no government census here, so figures are inexact.
Dati Sherpa, the local nursing student kind sponsors have trained is now practicing at the clinic and she is getting the feel of things. She seems very professional and focused and showed us her graduation certificate and mark-sheet. We are proud to say she did very well and was in the top section of her class. Now that Dati is working in the clinic, there are new opportunities for the other workers, Pasi and Jamyang, to receive further education. One big problem Dati is having is that every day she has to walk 3 hours each way to and from her home and the clinic. 6 hours a day of walking means she can't do her job effectively and we need to find a solution to this, like somewhere for her to live in Dhaurkharka. That means her rent and eating expenses will have to be paid.
Pasi would like to learn more about prenatal, birthing, and postnatal care, while Jamyang would like to attend pharmacy school. We hope to find sponsors for their education this season. Pasi has also agreed to consider opening a new, smaller health clinic in the neighbouring village of Chhermading (where 700 people live), where she would work one day a week. It would be at her mother and father's home, and they have agreed to the idea. Hopefully we will find funding for this soon as well.
We have decided to usher in a new phase of remodeling at the Dhaurkharka health post. Here is the remodeling project we envision:
A. Render (plaster) and paint the walls.
B. Waterproof the floor and put linoleum on top.
C. Put more glass in the windows so more natural light can come in.
D. Put in more wires and light bulbs so there will be four lights.
E. Put in a permanent privacy curtain around the bed in the corner.
F. Get Pasi the depo-shots. She said they cost 100-150 rupees each. The government has a big difficulty supplying the "free" ones. While we are waiting for the "free" depo-shots, more babies are being conceived. We want to slow down the birth explosion in Patale and the depo shots seem to be the easiest way. It's kind of like telling people that "free" food is available then telling them there is not enough "free" food and then they will starve.
10. Well we are in Patale and so far this has been our busiest Service Trek ever, and its only 1/2 over.
On the evening of the 17th we picked up the burned toes boy, Binod, and his mom, Mrs. Tamang, from their village near Japhre. They are with us and doing well. Mrs. Tamang is carrying the boy in a blanket. He is 2.5 years old. How he managed to burn off all of his toes, god only knows. We are taking him to the hospital in Kathmandu to see if there is anything they can do for him. He walks very poorly and we are hopeful there is something that can be done to help him learn to walk normally. After a long trek where he was carried by porters and jeeps and buses along some bumpy roads, he and his mom are now in Kathmandu and Deha is taking him around to different doctors to be examined and x-rayed. We need some of nurse Sandy Murray's awesome advice about what to do. back to top
Students at Chhermading School with Dave, Brian and Jackie in the back row. We hope to add a new building, 6 more teachers and class 9 and 10 to the school with the help of generous sponsors. Closeup of Binod, the 2 1/2 year old burned toes boy. A closeup of Binod's feet, which need advanced critical medical attention. Jamyang, staff health worker at Dhaurkharkha health post, wants to go back to school to learn more about pharmacy. That's his wife, son and mom behind. Jangbu Sherpa, our staff director, presenting a photo taken by Elaine Smith to a girl in Kamding. Visiting the lovely monastery in Jhaphre (Dan Mazur).
This is Brian Cross calling in for the Service Trek on the 22nd of November.
We had a long trek and we’ve finished in a place called Khinji Phalante. We visited a school and had a very nice welcome party. In attendance was the government school minister, all of the teachers, and a number of school pupils who did a very nice dance for us. Then we had to join in the dancing. We were covered in garlands. We could hardly see above the garlands on our bodies, there were so many of them.
We’re trekking with a number of different people who are going to go to the hospital with us in Kathmandu. We’ve got the Tamang family: the mom’s name is Doma and the son’s name is Binod. He’s going to have his feet looked at, which were badly burned in a fire when he was very small. We’ve got 3 girls all from the village here named Mingma, Kandu and Yengjie. They are studying at this school in Khinji Phalante to eventually become teachers in Patale in about 4 year’s time. We’ve also got with us Jangbu’s mom, who’s going to the hospital, Jangbu’s wife, his sister-in-law, his mother-in-law, and Lakpa and his wife.
We’re all going to hopefully trek today to Those and try to catch a bus back to Kathmandu. We think the bus leaves at 5:30 in the morning, so we may have to camp again at Those and get up very early tomorrow to get the bus back. back to top
At the three girls' student apartment. On the left is Kandu Sherpa, on right is Yangie Sherpa, in centre is Doma Tamang, mother of Binod (on her lap), the 2 1/2 year old burned toes boy. David Begneaud and team preparing to start the trek on a lovely sunny morning in Japhre. Mingma, Kandu, Pasang, Yangie and Dorje, a proud Sherpa family with their two daughters who want to become high school teachers, in their student apartment. Pasi on the right and the sherpa language teacher handing out hats to pre-school students at Chhermading school. Thanks to the wonderful teachers and students at Shaker Juniour High School! Proprietor, Dorje Sherpa, at Japhre's Everest Lodge; beautiful views of Everest and the Himalaya abound from here. Yangie, one of the three high school girls, shows us her kitchen in the tiny hovel in Chupalu Banjyang. It's 30 minutes to walk to school from there and they are going to move closer to the school (Dan Mazur).
Hi, this is Katherine Waldrop calling in for the November 2009 Service Trek. Today is November 21st.
After 2 steady days at the health post in Patale, seeing loads of patients with gastric problems and all sorts of things, we’ve referred several patients to Salleri and Kathmandu for surgical procedures. We are headed to Khinji Phalante for our second to last night.
Last night there was a festival with lots of Nepali disco dancing to see us off and wish us a safe journey. We have a steady day of walking. Then we’ll camp in Khinji Phalante and see where we go tomorrow. We’re not quite sure. Okay, thanks. Bye. back to top
Bureaucrats, teachers and students preparing to bestow garlands at Khinji Phalante High School ceremony. David Begneaud checks out a young girls badly deformed foot in Dungopa (Bhittakharka). Deha Shrestha, Service Trek director and programme manager for the Mount Everest Foundation, calls in to the head office from Dungopa (Bhittakharkha), rick of corn drying on right. Our little Service Trek group in Phaphlu. L-R: Deha, Brian, Jackie, Dorje, Katharine, Jangbu and Dave. Our trusty and loyal sherpas taking down our comfortable camp and packing it up on a beautiful morning in Jhaphre (Dan Mazur).
Hi, this is Jackie Cross calling in for the Service Trek on the 20th of November from the Patale area.
It was lovely and sunny today, although it’s still icy. I did a very good Bambi impression across a bit of grass.
We’ve visited two schools in the last two days. Yesterday we broke the ice with paper airplanes before we went on to alphabets and numbers. Some of them knew all their numbers and alphabet, while others we’re more interested in playing. We were introduced to all of the children. There was one young lad who was really shy and very ashamed of the sores on his face, so we were thrilled to see him up here at the health centre first thing this morning. Katherine treated and looked after him.
Today we went on to a second school where we sat and talked with the teachers. They’d never had any foreign visitors, so we didn’t actually get involved nor do any hands-on training, but we talked with them about what they wanted and what their requirements were. They are really keen to get another two classes to enable them to take the students through the SLC (school leaving certificate). It sounds feasible, but Bureaucracy is a slow and painful thing.
The children were thrilled to see us. There were only 100 of the 300 enrolled present. Where the other 200 would fit, we have no idea. We gave them lots of gifts like pencils, crayons, and hats for the small ones. They looked really lovely and weighed us down with prayer shawls and flowers. It was very sweet.
Tomorrow we are heading into the unknown for the Service Trek, new territory, to check on the high school where 3 girls are being sponsored by the Mount Everest Foundation in the hopes that they’ll come back here as teachers. Okay, thanks for following our trek. Bye. back to top
1st graders enjoy their new hats at Chhermading School thanks to the teachers and students at Shaker Junior High School. Chhermading village with 93 houses and approximately 700 citizens. The school is the long building on the ridge. Dati and Yangie Sherpa working on a letter to Katharine Peacock, Dati's sponsor, who so kindly paid for Dati's nursing school, in memory of Jonathan Peacock. Katherine and Jackie enjoying a delicious dinner. Pasang, our excellent and very hardworking cook prepares home made village style popcorn over a wood fire in Japhre. Yummy dinner and delicious local 'chang' drink served on brass plates with china cup and saucer on a clean and tidy table cloth (Dan Mazur).
Good morning, this is David Begneaud reporting in for the November 2009 Service Trek. Today is the 20th of November, Friday.
We’re now in Patale village. We left Japhre on the 18th and trekked over here, stopping to watch beautiful views of Everest. The weather is really fine over here and we’re doing well. We’ve been with the locals living among the Sherpa families and they’ve just been taking really good care of us.
We did a Puja ceremony yesterday morning and then went up to Dorje’s to have breakfast. Some of us went down to the school and taught the children different lessons. They’re doing really well. Katherine stayed at the health clinic and saw about 20 patients.
Today we’re going down to another village called Chhermading. We’re not sure if foreigners have ever seen this village yet, but we’re going to go look at their schools and bring them some supplies.
The weather is fine. We’re looking at terraced hills and valleys with potatoes, fruits, and vegetables growing. It’s really wonderful. Everybody is feeling really good, doing fine, sleeping well at night and having a good time.
We’d like to tell everybody hello, we’ll be back soon and keep reporting in. Thank you. back to top
Chhermading teachers and school committee members chart on wall shows class size with a spike in 1st and 4th grades. We hope to have new classrooms and teachers ready to handle these cohorts. Children in Kamding with their photos taken by Elaine Smith. Dati and Pasi Sherpa in the Patale health clinic (Dan Mazur).
Hi, this is Katherine Waldrop calling in for the November 2009 Service Trek. Today is November 18th.
After hiking all day yesterday through the mist and fog we reached Japhre, where we set up our tents and camped. I think we’ll spend the day walking towards Patale, where we’ll spend the next 2 days visiting the health clinic to see and treat patients, as well as visit the 2 schools and teach lessons to the children there. That’s it for now. We’ll call in again soon. Thanks for following along our Service Trek. Bye. back to top
Half of the medicine supply in the health clinic, thanks to generous help from the sponsors. Wandruk Sherpa's head is in the lower right, his parents own the building. Jackie and Katherine enjoying a delicious lunch while waiting at the airport for their flight to Phaphlu. Mingma, one of the three high school girls and two friends put on a dance programme for us at Kinji Phalante high school (Dan Mazur).
16 November, 2009:
We tried to fly to Phaphlu yesterday. We even checked in for the flight and received our boarding passes and went out onto the tarmac in the bus to get onto the plane, but the flight was cancelled, due to high winds in Phaphlu. We did meet a nice family of a mom and dad and two young teen-aged girls who were going on the same plane as us to Junbesi for two weeks to install a waste treatment system at the monastery.
Oh well, we couldn’t fly, so we went to Boudhnath Temple for a few lucky koras round the stupa. We had tea at the Flavours Café and then went to Gokarna Forest Resort for an enjoyable forest walk with our very knowledgeable guide Mr. Banskota, whose master's thesis focused on the natural and cultural attributes of the forest. We walked for 1 hour and saw many lovely plants and trees, lakes and rivers, hills, spotted deer, barking deer, wild monkeys, several bird species, temples and a Newari farming village.
After our walk, we toured the lovely spa and sparkling swimming pool, then retreated to the very well appointed bar for drinks, snacks, and good conversation. We rode the hotel van back to Thamel and got our rooms at the Beijing Hotel, then went to the food court in Thamel centre and met Kandu, Maya, Gyelmu Sherpa, and Arnold for dinner.
Elaine went to the helping hands hospital to meet Pasang, the 14 year old village boy with bow legs and rickets, and he seems to be doing better, just recovering after having his cast removed for 8 days following another surgery and installation of pins in his legs. The kind doctor Hem Limbu is contemplating what the next plan will be for Pasang. There is discussion of releasing him from the hospital. Pasang has now been in the hospital for 5 months, attended by his father, Papa Aangchu, which is a long time.
Well its 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, 16 November and we are off to the airport again shortly to see if we can fly to Phaphlu. Wish us luck!! back to top
Brian and Jackie Cross, crossing a swing bridge donated by the Swiss government. This bridge is located in Solerri and crosses the Seti River. Binod, the burned toes baby and his mom. Panoramic view of the Himalaya greets us on day 3 of the Service Trek. That's Everest on the left with the massive wind plume. Photo from Jhaphre ridge where an ancient forest remains untouched (Dan Mazur).
15 November, 2009:
I had a funny time last week when we went out safari-ing around in the east. We went rafting, checked a bird refuge, and I saw my first ever freshwater dolphins and even a wild buffalo with scary horns and a grouchy demeanor. It was very cool and we had an idea to return there next year for a canoe trip with some university students, who come from a study overseas group that have been tentatively asking us to join their program.
It reminds one quite a bit of Africa over there in the east, as the people live so close to the land in villages made of sticks, mud, and elephant grass. We visited some tea plantations and went to a hilltop viewpoint and were treated to the best ever view of Baruntse from a different angle. It was really special to be able to see that mountain again, how beautiful and inspiring.
After those few days, this morning in a couple hours we are off to Okhaldunga again for the school and hospital building Service Trek in rural Nepal, and also we are going to focus on particular people. We are going to try and find the two year old boy whose toes were burned off in a fire, and there is this nine month old baby we discovered with a swollen head, and we are going to try to transport those two kids and some of their family members back to Kathmandu for medical exams.
Then we are going to walk to the village where the three village girls are going to high school to become local school teachers and meet their head teacher, see their mark sheets, etcetera. Also we are going to do some teaching in the local village school, see patients at the clinic, and of course distribute some more hats and blankets kindly donated by Shaker Junior High School.
It looks like it could be a diverse and fun group, with a charming British couple (Jackie and Brian), David from Louisiana and Katherine, a nurse from Texas. Deha and Jangbu and Dorje are going along too, so that will be very fine. We should be back here in a week or so, but let’s see.
I think my mobile phone works out there in some places and it’s +977 9841595504, I also have a sat phone which seems to have the number of +8821652070089 and I will keep trying to phone you. Also send an email and I will try to check it from time to time.
Exciting news, Murari is trying to get me home for Thanksgiving and he thinks he can do it, or is that just Nepalese-style over the top optimism?? Thanks for following our dispatches and I will update you!!!! back to top
The small Sherpa child with burned toes we met along the trek to Patale in November 2008 (Barbara Trenary). A 10 month old baby suffering from Hydrocephalus, which requires advanced critical attention (Deha Shrestha).
The three Sherpa girls from patale we would like to educate as certified teachers so they can teach in the school in Patale: Mingma, Yangjie and Kanti (Barbara Trenary).