Trek in Nepal’s Everest Region with Edge of Seven

Interested in trekking through the Himalayas, catching views of striking mountains, checking out local schools and Sherpa villages AND benefiting the local communities where you’re traveling? Edge of Seven is running a trek this fall (Oct 21st-Nov 4th) in Nepal’s Everest Region. While the region is best known for its popular trekking villages and peaks, this trip will also visit a number of off the beaten path villages, monasteries, and humanitarian projects. It is often these sites that offer the most culturally rich perspective of the region. The trip will culminate in a visit to Edge of Seven’s Salleri Girls Hostel, a project completed in 2011 that enables 40 Nepali girls to achieve a higher secondary education.

To give adequate time for preparation, we encourage participants to sign up before the end of June. For more information and/or to sign up, please email Emily Stanley at emily@edgeofseven.org.

For those of you in Colorado, we will be presenting on the trek and Edge of Seven’s model for blending social impact with adventure on the following dates:

May 15th, 6:30-8:00 pm – REI Westminster (Free)

May 24th, 8-9:30 pm – Neptune Mountaineering, Boulder (Free)

May 30th, 6:30-8:00 pm – REI Boulder (Free)

June 28th, 6-8 pm – Spyder Show Room/Icelantic Ski Gallery, Battery 621, Denver (Suggested Donation) – This event is a fundraiser for Edge of Seven. We will highlight the trek, celebrate our recently completed projects and be available to answer specific questions about our work in Nepal.

July 10th, 6:30-8:00 pm – REI Denver (Free)

Cocktails and Causes

A few years ago, I only went to fundraisers if a cute guy was going to be there.  The acceptable ticket price was directly related to the cute factor.  Over the past few years, my life has changed dramatically and now I’M the one hosting three fundraisers in three weeks in three cities throughout the U.S.  This blog will appeal to the Erin of five years past. 

Last week, the Ritz Carlton in L.A. generously donated space so we could talk about social change with views of the Hollywood Hills.  Tomorrow night, at the Translations Gallery in downtown Denver, we will enjoy art, a short film about our work in Nepal, and a testimonial from a volunteer who spent 6 weeks in Nepal.  Finally, next week on April 14th, we’ll close out the tour with Nepali dancing and festivities in Wilmington, DE at Kooma on the Waterfront

There are a million fantastic causes to support these days so I’d like to give you five reasons why you should pay $25 at the door for an Edge of Seven event.

  1. Your entrance fee buys you a drink and some snacks.  A tax deductible cocktail?!?  That’s my kind of party.
  2. 100% of donations go directly to support projects in rural Nepal.  Your donation isn’t paying my salary.  It’s building a dorm so that 40 girls have opportunity to sit in an 11th grade classroom.
  3. There will be cute boys.  And, cute girls.  Some may even be single.  Watch out Match.com.  We’re throwing our hat in the ring.
  4. Adventure travel, and more specifically service travel, is on the rise.  I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world and there is no more rewarding experience than working side-by-side a community and living like a local to work towards a common goal that will bring REAL change to a village.  It doesn’t hurt that the Himalayas are the backdrop.
  5. Raffles and Silent Auctions.  In Denver and Wilmington, we have gifts galore for the taking.  Want spa packages, race entries, or free months of yoga?!?  I do.

If you need more convincing, drop me an email at erin@edgeofseven.org.  I’d love to see you tomorrow in Denver or on the 14th in Wilmington.

Two Faces of Nepal

Nepal captured my heart just over two years ago.  It was my first time visiting the country nestled between India and China and in just three weeks, I fell in love with the land and its people.  Nepal, unlike any other country I have visited, has the ability to render visitors speechless from exquisite beauty in one moment to extreme poverty the next.  Perspective often dictates the experience.  

photo courtesy of Sarah Andrews

The beauty throughout Nepal is unparalleled.  The vast Himalayas line the northeast border and the snow capped mountains, including Mt. Everest, are far more impressive than any photo predicts.  The hills of the countryside boast thousands of terraced rice paddy fields that paint the land a lush green.  And finally, the spectacular gorges almost swallow rafters as boats sail through the tumbling rapids looking for sunshine.  While the vistas have people longing for more, there is no moment untouched by the backdrop of destitution.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of poverty is the lack of basic human needs, such as clean water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter, because of the inability to afford them.  In Nepal, many families, mothers, must walk several miles to draw water from a community tap.  According to the U.N., almost half of Nepalese children under five are chronically malnourished. This figure is within the top five in the world.  Research studies have shown a significant correlation between low maternal literacy and poor nutrition status of children.  Lack of proper maternal care and sanitation, absence of dietary information, unsuitable feeding practices, and inadequate access to food are the other key underlying drivers of malnutrition among children.  Most families in rural communities lack toilets as only 41% of people have sustainable access to sanitation.

photo courtesy of Sarah Andrews

While poverty levels have dropped in Nepal from 42% in 1996 to 25% in 2010, one quarter of the population still lives below the national poverty line of $1 per day.  That is 7.1 MILLION people living on less than $365 each year.  According to the United Nations, Nepalese have the lowest life expectancy in Asia, the largest share of undernourished children, and most importantly, development has been significantly unequal across social groups.  According to Girls Discovered, the gross primary school graduation rate for girls is 64% and only 32% of young women in Nepal aged 20-24 years old have achieved at least a secondary education.  The statistics are powerful but visiting a rural community in a developing country is a far leap from the page.

In November 2010, we were interviewing girls in the Everest region of Nepal for our first short film.  We spoke with a fourteen year-old girl named Nimdita about the value of education. Nimdita’s parents were uneducated and could not afford to raise her or educate her.  At five years old, she was sent to live with a family friend she calls her “sister.”  For the last nine years, Nimdita has lived away from her parents so that she can pursue an education. When asked what she will do in the future, she responded that she would like to be a social worker to help educate others to develop rural Nepal.  We could not detect a trace of resentment for the choices made by her parents. It is simply her life.

Nimdita gathers spinach each day to sell at the local market

Nimdita’s story is all too common in Nepal.  We spoke with many girls who are perfectly willing to sacrifice their basic needs so that they can have an education.  Many girls farm their family’s land before and after classes so that they can attend school.  We talked to girls who told us that they skip meals so they can have money for rent. We heard from girls who are living four people to a small rented room without beds or furniture just for the hope to be something other than a housewife.  These are the women who will push Nepal forward. 

My experiences in Nepal have been transformative.  Now, I seek a world in which no fourteen year-old is forced to choose between her family and an education.  I have created a nonprofit called Edge of Seven to improve the lives of girls throughout the developing world through education, health, and financial initiatives.  In addition, we connect volunteers with service projects in the field because we are true believers in the philosophy that getting out and seeing the world will help people become more effective at changing it.  If you are looking for your next big adventure, the trip that rocks your world, I dare you to visit Nepal.  You’ll never be the same.