Several few weeks ago, a Givology flag flew by the Himalayan wind on 3210 meters.
A few months ago, my mom and I planned a trip to go trekking, and decided that the Himalayas in Nepal might be the best choice for its location, policies on tourist entrances, and popularity. However, the tickets were hard to book, and my dad, who refused to let us on to this trip because of safety issues, was too hard to persuade. He asked, "Why can't you just go trek in the mountain behind our house? Why all that fuss?" True. As a Californian who lives in the midst of deserts and mountains, staying local might seem to be the best choice for adventure. Yet there seems to be a voice calling inside of me, telling me that Im really just a frog under a well (and with no water). After challenges and preparations mounting to a hill even before the trip and spending countless hours spent researching online, we finally were prepared to begin our trip.
Two days before our flight while I was replying to emails about our Givology campaign, I suddenly realized that I could probably do something to spread awareness about our organization and the importance of education... in Nepal. After considering how awkward it would be going up to people and telling them about a random organization they probably haven't heard of, I decided that maybe a flag will do-- a flag just like those other tourists flags, red and eye-catching.
Two days later, the journey begins with a huge trekking bag with a Givology flag sticking out.
In the airport, a Nepali man with a red dress sat beside me, and asked me about the flag. "Is it a country?" When I explained to him that it's an organization, I thought he had an urge to walk away. So I elaborated more on how it helps and sponsors the education of children in Nepal and around the world, claiming that our organization does "philanthropy." Then, he seemed confused and really walked away...
We arrived in Pokhara, Nepal in the morning, and a local tourist organization drove us to the bottom of the Annapurna Mountain, the tenth highest mountain in the world. The first hour was relaxing, we took pictures and had a naive thought that the whole trip would be easy. Later, it turned out that we walked along with horses, and their waste. As much as I'd like to claim that there were beautiful flowers with great scents, reality knocked us right on the face.
However, that was not the real challenge. The "old me" considered studying eight hours a day dreadful, but apparently, the "old me" haven't walked for eight hours a day, uphill. And the thought that my dad will be laughing at me for buying my way to suffer shocked me, so I trudged on. However, the next few days weren't any better. We crossed through forests with muddy puddles, climbed up slippery stairs while raining, and slept with crickets and moths circling around us.
When we finally found another living being while we rested, I thought I had the chance to talk to him about Givology. He was an American guy, and he too, asked me about my flag. After I explained to him what our organization does, he answered something like, "Yeah, I've seen several Nepali children here that were climbing down the mountain and carrying stuff like bamboo sticks. Although its summer, but I don't know if they get an education." True, I've also seen children helping their parents in hostels delivering food and cleaning up dishes, and I've never seen a school anywhere near. Afterwards, I asked my local tour guide on how children go to school in Nepal. He answered, "Families that have money send their children to boarding schools in the cities, and the children who are less fortunate often have to walk one hour down the mountain to go to school, and walk back for more than a hour as well." My tour guide, who is Nepali and speaks three different languages, also says that "the official language in many Nepali schools is English, so many children learn English at a young age. However, very few have the opportunity to go to college. They often drop out and begin working at an early age."
Knowing that so few children have the opportunity to go to school, let alone receive quality education, stunned me a lot. Because education can so drastically change ones life, perhaps stop the tradition of spending a lifetime at a hostel or serving at a restaurant, really makes it valuable. Yet just because it is valuable shouldn't make it hard to attain...
I don't exactly remember how I managed to climb up to the peak of Poon Hill nor how I pulled my sore legs to descend down. Yet drawing a conclusion to this experience seemed too fast, even until now. The trip influenced me in many different aspects, and I'm very grateful to learn about the status of education in Nepal first handedly while attaining one of my long-time goals. However, there seems to lay so many barriers to climb over before education can be easily accessible to children of all backgrounds. Then, #HowIlearn would become #Howwelearn.
by Macy Huang
Givology Staff's Blog
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