By John Gill - Dec 17, 2018
Himalayan Life Canada is a registered charity seeking to protect, nurture and educate the children in the Himalayas. They run homes, shelters and educational programs for disadvantaged children such as street-kids or otherwise socially/economically marginalized kids. Since the devastating earthquake in April 2015, Himalayan Life have been working alongside communities in the Yangri Valley as they rebuild their lives, homes and infrastructure. They are operating a regional school for 100+ students in Yangri which they have built and are in the process of expanding.
Himalayan Life also operate the only plastic recycling plant in Nepal (Himalayan Plastics in Pokhara), processing around 10,000 plastic bottles every day! This is a huge step in cleaning up the streets and educating the country in proper waste management. If any of you have visited Nepal before, you will know how upsetting it can be to watch families burning piles of garbage or throwing it into rivers because there is no other way to deal with waste.
For further details please visit www.himalayanlife.com
Side note: the mountain in Himalayan Life's logo is Kanchenjunga!
I first met Daniel Burgi (founder and director) in Chukhung while guiding on the Everest High Passes Trek in 2017. I was quite surprised to find out that he lived 10 minutes away from me in North Vancouver. Daniel is an inspirational man who has dedicated the last 20+ years to helping those who are less fortunate. He speaks fluent Nepali and lives in Nepal for half the year. I was amazed by the work that Himalayan Life does, from caring for forgotten street kids, to re-building earthquake damaged homes in remote mountain villages, to battling Nepal's recycling issues.
I knew I wanted our expedition to have a greater purpose. I don't want to be another group of Westerners contributing to a 3rd world countries problems. We have the ability, and a responsibility to make positive change, and to not simply glance over the issues. Nepal is more than beautiful mountains.
I've seen so many articles in the past few years about garbage being collected from Everest Base Camp. This BBC article describes a clean-up campaign aiming to remove 100 tonnes of garbage from Everest. That garbage will likely go into landfill, even though the majority of it could be recycled. The Khumbu glacier, where Everest Base Camp is located, is the source of water for hundreds of villages throughout Nepal and India. The garbage left behind by expeditions and trekkers is not only horrible to look at, but it pollutes countless peoples drinking water.
We are planning for our Kanchenjunga expedition to 'leave no trace', and to pack out all the waste that would usually go into the glacier, to remain there for thousands of years. Unfortunately, we can't avoid the fact that this garbage will eventually go into landfill somewhere else in Nepal. This is where Himalayan Life comes in. Most of our garbage can be recycled, so by donating to Himalayan Lifes plastic recycling plant, we can offset our footprint by helping them clean up Nepal. If possible, we will weigh our garbage and calculate how much we need to donate to recycle that amount of waste.
Every effort will be made to reduce the amount of packaging and potential garbage that we take onto the glacier. This will also reduce weight, meaning less manpower to stock the expedition. My hope is that we can influence future expeditions to these pristine and wild places, and to show that we can work towards greener expeditions, so future generations can enjoy the beauty of the Himalayas as we do today.