Ram Sapkota from Mountain Delights Treks and Expedition in Nepal, shares his vision of providing visitors to his country with a genuine experience of daily life in rural Nepal – to take you off the beaten track into his village – Jyamrung.
I was born in Jyamrung, a small and remote village in the midwest part of Nepal. Like many families in my village my parents worked as farmers on their own fields. My family was one of the poorest in the village and we didn’t have enough food from our own field, therefore we had to work on other people’s farms – despite our hard work, often we went to bed hungry.
Only one of my brothers and myself were lucky enough to attend school. During this time, I recognized the problems within our village: men spending their day playing cards and drinking alcohol instead of working and then returning home in the evening angry because they has lost all their money, food was not ready and beating their wives.
In Nepali culture men are usually in a superior position compared to women – who are responsible for the household and all the work. I did not think this was right and started bringing the women to the places where the men were playing cards and drinking – this was the first time women had fought the bad behaviour of their husbands. Without realizing it I had started my first social work for women’s rights in the village.
Against great odds I continued my education by selling a goat my mother had given me. With this US$20 I set up a small shop selling items to the locals. After three years of working in my shop each morning and evening and studying during the day, I sold my shop – it was time to move on to higher education.
After doing various manual labour jobs, I found a position with a trekking company in Kathmandu. I worked as a porter, kitchen boy, Sherpa or assistant guide, while at night reading books and studying for university. I never attended college but studied in private without any teacher and after several years achieved my degree in population education, political science, history and culture.
My experience as a trekking guide opened a new world to me. I was able to earn money and send some of it back to my village to help children attend school.
My contact with foreigners allowed me to tell them about my village and my project ideas. I was humbled by their interest and support. From here I formed my own trekking company – Mountain Delights – and with the assistance of my international friends started my small social organization – Tukee Nepal Society.
Our work within Tukee Nepal Society is based in my village – Jyamrung – and through Mountain Delights we take visitors on a “Lower Ganesh Himal Eco Trek” to experience this basically unexplored region of Nepal. The Ganesh Himal is named after the elephant-headed God of Good Fortune. The Ganesh Himal can clearly be seen from Kathmandu Valley and the Ganesh Range peaks stand out like crystal that is the Great Himalayan Chain forming the skyline.
Nothing has changed in this area so it is a great opportunity to learn about the real Nepal and enjoy our traditional culture. During this trek you will stay in my village for at least three nights where you will experience a home stay by being involved in the day-to-day activities (e.g. teaching in the school, providing health assistance, working in the fields with local people, fishing, swimming, cooking, explore the surrounding area, etc).
Our treks are staffed by local guides who know the area very well – they can tell you about the local environment, wildlife, culture, daily life – with permission from the elders of the village we involve our clients and staff in local ceremonies wherever possible. Our local knowledge, combined with a friendly and inviting community, gives people an opportunity and experience that very few foreigners have witnessed.
Our work in Jyamrung has seen many changes within the community – it is ever changing and on-going. Projects include:
- Providing a health centre in the village that provides assistance for more than 9000 people.
- Toilets for everyone to assist with hygiene and prevent disease outbreaks.
- Solar power and a micro-hydro power station which provides an economic and environmental result for the community.
- Road construction that will assist the community to trade more freely their agricultural products.
- Micro-finance scheme to set up small business – agriculture, tailoring, etc.
- Renovating houses affected by the elements of poorer members of the community.
- Education – 260 students receive assistance to attend primary school, secondary school and university; evening classes for the older generation; repair and building new school buildings; assistance to provide more teachers and tutors; resources for the school.
We believe village tourism offers a unique opportunity for comfortable cultural immersion. Our organization works with the whole village – providing economic stability for all families by using local produce, accommodation and guides.
Mountain Delights is not only a profit motivated organization – the company is committed to contributing five percent of its total annual profit to Tukee Nepal Society which has given a new lease of life to many needy and vulnerable people.
A visit to Jyamrung will provide everyone with the opportunity to be involved in cross-cultural communication – to gain a greater understanding of each other’s lifestyle and opportunities.
If you are coming to Nepal take the opportunity to go off the beaten track and see the power, beauty and soul of the more remote areas of my country – “make your footprint count.”