P.O. Box 68401
Grand Rapids, MI 49516
Earle Canfield: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Durham: email@example.com
ANSWER is a 501c(3) tax-deductible, non-profit charity.
I am writing this from the mountain village of Lukla at the base of Mt. Everest. We had been a week on the trail visiting some of our most remote schools and students in the foothills. The schools are few and poorly funded; the people are living on what they can grow; and some of the students walk up to four hours a day to get their education. We need to help them.
It’s been over 4 days waiting for the weather to lift so that we can fly back to Kathmandu and have a hot shower. We now find ourselves with clothing so soiled and sweat-soaked they defy ever being clean again.
Landing in Lukla – Not for Sissies
As more and more climbers come down to the Lukla airport from their Everest Base Camp Trek, we find ourselves in good company – all of us stranded at the most dangerous airport in the world waiting for planes to take us back to KTM. Some have international flights which they need to catch and must pay $500 per person for a helicopter flight out! The runway at Lukla is pitched at 15 degrees uphill for short landings and take-offs. The end of the runway drops off a cliff which allows the plane to pick up speed after take-off! The runway is the length of a football field and 1/3 as wide, and each day I wait, the more I am inclined to take that helicopter!
Our little party of five includes a student Nikita and a sponsor Didi from Seattle. I lugged around my laptop in my backpack and now welcome the free time to respond to emails, writing sermons, stories, etc. We were fortunate to arrive just as a three day Buddhist festival (Dumjee) at the local monastery started-lamas, monks, horns, cymbals, masked dancers were all fascinating. There is also a Starbucks, a delightful knockoff with wifi and a happy hour with free popcorn! What more does one need while waiting for the weather to lift!
Meanwhile, in the preceding two months, we have delivered and collected almost 500 of our 600 letters, escorted 9 sponsors around Nepal, held a couple of AAA meetings and countless Film Discussions as part of Social Welfare Club. More immediately, I spent a week with two University of Utah medical experts exploring ways to improve medical care delivery in rural Nepal culminating in a Memorandum of Understanding. More to come.
This year there were initially 6 sponsors from the US who traveled to Nepal to meet their students. In addition, a couple from Alberta, Canada, Colin and Kate joined us off and on (Colin had been in Nepal before). With our staff and their student (Saran), they trekked up to his tiny village and spent the night with his family.
Intending to also do some trekking to visit their girl’s (Rupa) village, Wally and Becky from Michigan endured a long day’s ride to Charikot where Rupa and her sister share a room and attend school. However, we were surprised to find that Rupa’s mother was recuperating there after a hospital procedure which precluded a trek to the village. We then brought Rupa back to KTM with other ANSWER children Sabina and Susmita. The three girls had fun bunking together in one of our rooms at the Guest House.
Terry and Betty from Maine sponsor a boy and a girl Sanju and Swostika in villages so remote that we had to bring them to KTM (2 days by bus) rather than bringing “Mohammed to the Mountain.” They were able to stay with relatives in KTM and see “the city” for the first time.
That leaves Jane of Golden, CO and Evelyn of Rapid City, MI who became supportive roommates as each would nurse the other through colds, allergies and GI distress. Evelyn’s girl Binita lives in a suburb of KTM, and was the easiest family visit to arrange. Each sponsor was able to get to know their child on a personal level. Below, Jane writes about her visit with her child Sushma to illustrate what this was like.
It would be negligent not to mention Pavel—a young Russian man who was educated in Holland, worked in L.A., and was now returning to Russia to begin a new job in Moscow. Someone had told him about ANSWER and so he e-mailed me to volunteer with us while he visited Nepal. Why not?
As it turned out, most of us were hit hard by the flu pandemic and Pavel played a critical role in escorting arriving sponsors around KTM as well as leading day hikes while I recovered. When the Crimean Peninsula was being overrun by Russia, Pavel’s presence was a comforting reminder that, people to people, we can overcome our biases and fears and live together peacefully. When we visited Pokhara, our sponsors displayed their appreciation to Pavel by treating him to a paragliding ride. Unfortunately, Evelyn, who was looking forward to taking the flight, was down with illness. However, as Pavel filmed the flight, we were all able to enjoy it vicariously.