25HOURS AROUND THE WORLD
Nepal's tropical climate, its lack of infrastructure, and the after-effects of the serious earthquake in 2015 have all had a negative effect on the availability of clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. Working towards improving the impoverished health and hygiene standards, the not-for-profit organization Viva con Agua is building wells and latrines in collaboration with Welthungerhilfe and their partner organization, Rural Reconstruction Nepal. 25hours Hotels has also been supporting the project since the beginning of 2015. After winning a competition within the hotel group, I got invited to the mountainous region of Nepal as a representative of 25hours Hotels to form my own impressions.
THE DESTROYED TEMPLES OF KATHMANDU
Our ten day trip began and ended in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where we were given our first impression of the devastating effects of the earthquake that shook the land fours years ago. Undamaged temples from the 12th century stood alongside the rubble and ash of collapsed buildings. Despite the oppressive situation, it was impressive to see how the inhabitants handled their fate: they were rebuilding their houses, one stone at a time - often in bare feet.
THE JOURNEY INTO THE PROJECT AREA
On our way to the project area, we were caught up in a series of turbulent incidents. The coach broke down as a result of a burst tire, which caused a traffic jam on the single-lane highway. The police managed to get it under control in just twenty minutes. On the next day, we were driven into the mountain villages by an open-top truck, which had only one single rail on the loading area for us to hold onto. Luckily our driver was familiar with the route, as he usually transported food from the city to the mountains. That didn't stop us from feeling uneasy, though - a huge abyss directly below us plunged countless meters into the depths.
GUESTS AT THE PRIMARY SCHOOL
In the mountain village of Hattiban, we visited a primary school whose sanitation facilities had been destroyed by the earthquake. The project funds from Viva con Agua will be used to rebuild them. During our stay, we talked to the teachers, and, despite communication difficulties, we drew and played boisterous games of football with the children. There is a functioning education system, but the way to school is often long and exhausting. The children walk two hours each way along the mountain, often with sacks of rice on their shoulders for their families.
THE ACCOMMODATION IN THE MOUNTAINS
The Nepalese are really blessed when it comes to their landscape. I won't forget the sun- and moonrises over the mountains in a hurry. We watched them together every day. Our accommodations was behind the primary school, between a stable and the house of the host family that was spoiling us. Only one of the three rooms had light, and each was sparsely furnished with beds.
THE PITFALLS OF THE PROJECT AREA
Some of the crew probably won't forget the day-long trek across hazardous trails. I saw few of them slipping several meters and holding on to roots. The advice from the locals to tread carefully should be heeded. Mountains are no place for sneakers, hipster or not... I am sure some of my teammates will remember that.
When we arrived in the village we spoke to their water committee, mostly managed and joined by woman. The positive developments - a direct result of the newly-built wells and sanitation facilities - were confirmed by everybody. Where once it had been necessary to walk for an hour to the nearest water source, clean drinking water was now available right there in the village.