“Time works differently in Nepal. Coming in to land, I find it odd adjusting my clock by five hours and an unusual 45 minutes. Winding through the streets, lanes and squares of Kathmandu, however, this kink in the space-time continuum becomes palpable. Century-worn cobbled alleys in the Thamel district are awash with exotic trinkets and tat. There is the ubiquitous Irish bar, and a gentle tug on the sleeve is accompanied by the whispered offer of Himalayan hashish.”
Mark Graham is in Nepal for a fundraising trek with child rights organisation, Plan International Ireland. Plan International has been assisting Nepalese communities to rebuild. The organization has been working actively for community welfare since 1978. Graham, along with his team are here to hike the Annapurna Mountain Range for a noble cause.
“Our goal is to hike through the range to the top of Poon Hill. Don’t let the term fool you – in Nepal, this ‘hill’ is 3,210 metres high.”
Throughout his stay in Nepal, Mark actively participated in various projects like : a drinking water project, after – school child-friendly spaces, school projects, etc. However, a project which has made the deepest impression and to which Mark feels deeply connected to is, Shrijana Women’s Saving and Credit Co-operative. This project was an initiation to help Nepali Women get out of their shell and run a financial or business institution. This cooperation now has almost 800 members and gives loans for housing, business education and medical purposes.
Mark and his team’s journey to Poon Hill was not easy, with the stone steps taking their toll, especially on his knees, but the reward was definitely worth it. Walking through the foothills of majestic Annapurna mountains, Nepal always felt like a step close to heaven to them. “Plodding up the mountainside, I vow to return for the much longer trek to Annapurna base-camp”, writes Mark Graham. The overall stay in Nepal has made Mark realize the essence of tourism in Nepal at the present context. According to Mark, there may never be a better time to visit this heaven on earth.