2017 Philanthro-Trek to Basa Village
In November our group of 15 Americans did a "philanthro-trek" to the remote village of Basa, Nepal to deliver reading glasses, solar-powered LED lights, shoes, clothing, and school supplies. Adventure GeoTreks staffed the trek with guides, cooks, and porters. We celebrated with the villagers in song and dance the rebuilding of the village, which was partially destroyed by the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. The philanthro-trek was sponsored by US and Nepal sister foundations, Basa Village Foundations USA and Nepal, which have supplied capital and materials for the villagers to rebuild their village and schoolhouse. The 2 foundations were founded by Niru Rai and me in 2007. We have worked together since then for the culturally sensitive development of the Basa area. I have been to the Himalayas 14 times on trekking and mountaineering expeditions, but this philanthro-trek was one of the most memorable and probably my last one.
The Foundations sponsored a give-away of shoes, clothing, and school supplies for needy villagers and students. The shoes were provided by Indianapolis-based Changing Footprints. Solar-powered LED lights purchased from LuminAid by the BVF-USA were distributed to every family in Basa Village. Gordon Mendenhall tested the vision of over 200 villagers and trained a school teacher, Asam, to continue testing villagers in the Basa area. The Foundations provided 400 pairs of reading glasses to be distributed in the Basa area.
The school children look great in the new uniforms provided by the Foundations. They performed songs and dances during the celebration. Members of our trekking group had a lot of fun playing with the kids. The boys pictured with group-member Hal are wearing the new uniforms. The boy on Hal's lap has a new pair of glasses received from Gordon.
Raising funds to help improve the village school was the first project of the Basa Village Foundations. The school has 5 grades and was rebuilt after the devastating earthquakes which struck Nepal in 2015. It now has a library and computer lab.
The way I have traveled to Basa since 2008 is to fly from Katmandu to Phaplu and then hike for 2 days to the village. Alternatively, we've driven 10 hours to what was the end of the road at Jiri and then trekked for 4-5 days. But the government completed a "road" near the village last year. So, this year some of our group arrived near the village by Jeep and then hiked down the steep trail to the village. Older people in Basa told me they were not happy about the road, but younger people are happy with it. I've had misgivings about how the road might change the village, but was delighted that Melissa Hudson, who has been an active supporter of the Foundations and is blind, could finally visit Basa. Several others in our group (due to age or infirmity) could not hike from Phaplu, but were able to visit Basa because of the road. Photos from the road & trail on the way to Basa ---
After leaving Basa village our trekking group of 15 split into multiple groups. I had planned to be in the Mera Peak climbing group, but a strained Achilles tendon instead sent me on the "Royal Trek" with friends Steve and Suzanne. ("Royal" because Prince Charles did it in the 1980s.) I've trekked and climbed extensively in the Khumbu and Langtang areas of Nepal, but never visited the Pokhara lake-district south of the Annapurna range. It is very picturesque. We stayed in tea-houses (lodges) instead of tents. The altitudes were between 3 & 7,000 feet. Hiking hours during the days on the trail were usually 2 hours in the morning and 2-3 hours in the afternoon. Compared to the high altitude trekking and mountaineering expeditions I've done, it was very leisurely. I could handle it even with a not-quite-healed Achilles strain.
The majestic Annapurna Range was in view every day. We hiked by lakes, through villages changed little by modernity, and across rice paddies. We ate locally grown food at the lodges, and occasionally stopped at farms to eat huge cucumbers and bananas offered by the farm families. Ramesh Rai was our guide and Sanjay Rai our porter from Adventure GeoTreks.
5 of our 15 members returned by Jeep to Katmandu and spent a few days in the Katmandu Valley, while 4 of our group trekked to Pikey Peak to climb that "Fourteener". 3 of the group members trekked to Mera Peak to climb that 21,300 ft. mountain. When we reunited in Katmandu, all agreed that our time in Basa village was the most meaningful of our experiences in Nepal. But each member was able to experience a special piece of Nepal designed for them by Adventure GeoTreks.
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