Journey into the Solukhumbu Valley
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
In November of 2015, I arrived at the remote village of Phaplu (a gateway village in the Lower Solu Khumbu, 170 miles east of Kathmandu) shortly after the monsoon season ended. I found myself embarking on a fifteen-day trek below the town of Lukla, the tourist epicenter for the Everest trek. I was on reconnaissance to assess the impact of the recent 7.8 magnitude that left 9,000 people dead and, by some estimates, over 3 million people homeless. I had done extensive post-earthquake work in Haiti in 2010, and I was motivated to get deep into Nepal to find where I might be useful.
I strapped on my backpack, and by nightfall, I experienced how isolated from support these villages were. As I traveled further from town, it was apparent that the scale of destruction increased the more remote these Sherpa villages were, partly because traditional construction of stone and wood is extremely susceptible to seismic activity.
It was astounding to see entire villages destroyed by the earthquake’s effect—and to see how almost none of the structures were rebuilt, even months after the earthquake occurred. No help could, or did, come.
In their rebuilding effort, the villagers pooled their meek resources in order to hire porters to bring supplies from Kathmandu to rebuild. Despite the villagers’ struggles, I was always greeted with a smile and an offering of hot tea or a bowl of rice and lentils.
These spare refreshments were cooked over open fires fueled by what little wood was available. One village offered khata, a gesture symbolizing a safe journey. I had never experienced such genuine hospitality.
These were the people I wanted to serve—those out of the view of the popular trekking routes (and thus, the deeper pockets of Western travelers), and of whom the government of Nepal is simply unaware.
Because there is no steady stream of trekkers and no roads moving up through these villages, the people who live here eke out an existence, day by day, living in less-than-adequate shelters and traveling many hours--and sometimes days--for water, food, and minimal income. And yet, these are the kindest, resilient, most generous, and gentlest of souls I have come across in my life-long travels.
Currently, we are working with in-country liaisons in Nepal to explore how front porch can help isolated communities like these bridge the gap in the restoration of their homes, livelihoods--and lives. In a process called Community Visioning, we can facilitate connection to their most needed resources. Join us in our spring 2020 fundraising campaign to allow us to explore projects that will bring us to those communities most in need of our support.
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