Rural village in the Annapurna range taken from my recent trip to Nepal in October-November 2010. (For more photos and stories on my trip to Nepal, please refer to older posts located under “Nepal”).
As some of you are aware, I’ve been actively fundraising over the last two months to try to raise money to help a fabulous grass-roots NGO called HANDS IN NEPAL (www.handsinnepal.org) build a new school in rural Nepal. A recent trip to the Annapurnas back in late October/early November struck a cord in my heart and made me realize how impoverished these wonderfully, peaceful and loving villagers are. Over 80% of Nepalis live in rural areas that have little or no access to education. I believe strongly that education is the key to a better future and a better life. Thus, I have worked hard over the last year or so finding NGOs that work in education and help to improve the accessibility of education and learning to the masses, especially in poor, third-world countries.
I’m pleased to say that over the last two months I’ve been able to raise over $1,000 for HANDS IN NEPAL mainly through the sales of hand-made pashmina scarves, yak-hair blankets (made in Tibet) and other local Nepali products. To me, it feels like a win-win situation as I’m able to offer beautiful products to my friends and family that are made directly in Nepal (and Tibet for the blankets) and donate all the funds directly to Hands in Nepal. After two weeks hiking from village to village through the Annapurnas, I saw firsthand how hard these women work to sell their beautiful, handicrafted products. They would be sitting there all day long, some of them not much older than twenty selling their handwoven scarfes, blankets, hats and gloves all for the mere price of two US dollars a piece! For us, it is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee but for them, it is a day’s living (as the average salary in rural Nepal is less than $2/day).
As someone who has been so incredibly fortunate to have traveled to these amazing places, I feel like it is a requirement to give back to the community. Hence, I contacted Hands in Nepal and have worked with them ever since on trying to raise the necessary funds to help build new schools.
Per Hands in Nepal, here are some amazing facts on what our money can help build or buy:
$20 = Cost of Student Annual Supplies
$50 = Chalkboard and Teacher Supplies
$600 = One-year Teacher Salary
$1500 = One year Boarding School Scholarship for one orphan
$6,000 – $8,000 = New construction of a four room schoolhouse
Thus, it is amazing to me what a long way our money can go in such a poor country!
Last night I held my fourth fundraising event, a wine and cheese party at my home where I told the story of HANDS IN NEPAL and offered a select collection of Nepali products for sale, all in the name of charity. It was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to hit over the $1,000 mark! It felt so good….like nothing I’d ever experienced in corporate America (I was in sales for many years).
There is something so special and magical about giving back that just makes me feel complete and my hope is that I can eventually reach the $8,000 mark to build a new school in rural Nepal and have a lasting impact on an entire village and generation of people. It will take time of course to raise the money but with the help of my friends, family and children as well I plan to achieve it!
To learn more about Hands in Nepal, please visit: www.handsinnepal.org
Some exciting news is that Hands in Nepal’s founder Danny Chaffin’s mother Jan is headed to Nepal this weekend to see if she can start up small sewing co’ops for the women. Many rural Nepali women are forced into prostitution as there is no other way out. Human trafficing is a huge deal in Nepal and Jan is hoping to start up another NGO to help these women and give them more options and hopefully a better life!