Mountain lovers: Let’s reach out to help Nepal

Mountain lovers: Let’s reach out to help Nepal


The destroyed village of Lamagaon just after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in April. Our Compassion Clinic is in this village and thankfully was unharmed. 
Photos provided by Jane Marshall

JANE MARSHALL

Trekkers and mountain lovers around the globe were shocked when news broke on April 25 about Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Then on May 12, in an unthinkable follow up, the ground shook again (7.3M). More than 9,000 people have died.

Nepal has created tender spots in its many visitors — those hearty souls who take time from their daily lives to trek through secret valleys and up peaks so bold and high they seem to puncture heaven. And it’s not just the landscape that draws people here. It’s the people. Trekkers often comment on the kindness of the Nepalese, whose sweet nature seeps into the hearts of travellers far from home.

So news of the earthquake hit hard.

That’s how it was for me. I’m a travel writer and mountain lover. I visited twice during research for my book Back Over the Mountains (Hay House India), and it was a trip to Tsum Valley that changed my life forever. Tsum only opened to trekking tourism in 2008. It’s a five- to seven-day hike on a trail that dangles from cliff walls and traces a surging river high into the Himalayas.


A traditionally built home in Tsum was devastated by the earthquake. 

Tsum’s people opened their homes and hearts to me. My guide Lopsang took me to remote Buddhist temples and connected me to the stories I needed to finish my book. And so when I returned to Edmonton, I wanted to give something in return.

The Compassion Project

Tsum is far from government help and until now has had no permanent emergency medical facility. Education is also limited. I partnered with three Tsum-born men (including Lopsang) and we started The Compassion Project. We’re grass roots; all donations go directly to our contacts in Tsum, which makes donations powerful.

We’d just hired two teachers and were working toward opening a medical clinic when the earthquakes struck. It was unfathomable; 90 per cent of homes in Tsum were destroyed. The very places I stayed in are now rubble. Our team members Lopsang and Dhawa Tashi lost their family homes.


This photo was taken in Lamagaon village in Tsum Valley where the Compassion Clinic operates. It shows how much work the villagers have ahead of them. 

But amazingly, the clinic survived.

The Compassion Clinic

In the face of the destruction we sped up the clinic’s completion. Dhawa Tashi was there on June 27 for the grand opening. Villagers filled the courtyard and were thrilled to know they’d receive maternal and natal care (infant and mother mortality is a key reason for opening the clinic), and that they’d have access to medication and treatment. Previously villagers suffered and died from treatable illnesses because help was a week-long walk away.


Villagers receive aid from recent helicopter relief mission bringing in much-needed supplies. The organization, Global Karun, flew in supplies to our contact in Lamagaon village and our project donated $2,000 to help cover helicopter costs. 
Photo provided by Global Karuna

Villagers are now sleeping in tents and makeshift shelters during this monsoon season. Come winter, when the water freezes and snows threaten, it’s hard to ponder the difficulties that await the people of Tsum. We want them to know they are not forgotten even though they live in such a remote place — a place that pulls us trekkers from our modern world for a taste of primordial freedom.


The grand opening of the Compassion Clinic in Lamagaon, Tsum. The villagers filled the courtyard and were so happy knowing that they now have improved access to medical and maternity care.

Want to help? 

We’re currently purchasing birthing kits and medical supplies. 

Your donation will be used immediately for loads going to Tsum valley.

For more details, check these links:

www.compassionfortsum.ca

https://www.facebook.com/thecompassionprojecttsum

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