Changing Lives in Nepal
77 year old MM Trekker Barbara Gessaman shares her experience on the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal and her lasting relationships and life-changing experiences she has had in Nepal as a result of travelling with MM Guide Deana Zabaldo and learning about her social responsibility in Nepal.
“Life changing experiences can happen when and where you least expect them! I have been on two treks with Mountain Madness to Everest Base Camp and on both treks our guide was the fabulous Deana Zabaldo. My first trek was cut short before reaching Base Camp because I developed Bronchitis. The second trek was very successful, and I made it to Base Camp. On both treks, I learned a lot about Nepal from Deana and how dedicated she and Mountain Madness are to helping the people of Nepal.
The kids are ready for school (Barbara on crutches with a twisted ankle —
but that didn’t slow her down much!) Barbara Gessaman photo
During the second trek I learned about the orphanage that Deana and Mountain Madness help support — Little Angel’s Children’s Home. This home gives abandoned and orphaned children a home, an education, a family, and a future. I really wanted to go there and visit…but I had a plane to catch. As it turned out, I returned to Nepal a third time. This time I went as a volunteer teacher in Chaurikharka, the village home of many of the Mountain Madness staff. Since I was going to be in Nepal for 2 1⁄2 months, I would also have time to visit the orphanage — WOW, I was excited.
THE VISIT Nanga Dorje Sherpa accompanied me on the visit to the Little Angel’s Children’s Home. I met Nanga on the first trek to base camp and stayed with him and his mother while I was teaching. The 3 hour trip to the orphanage in a Land Rover was an adventure in of itself including a flat tire. Our first stop was the construction site of the new orphanage. What a beautiful, peaceful place! The lease for the present house is coming to an end, and the children and house mothers need to feel the warmth of a Nepali home combined with a few modern conveniences. When we arrived at the present home the children had just gotten back from school, they were eating a snack, talking and laughing and getting ready to start on homework. We had time to talk with all of the children and help with their homework. Some of the older children were helping prepare dinner. What a happy place and what happy faces on the children! It’s amazing when you learn what some of these children have lived through.
Reading at a table in the front yard. Barbara Gessaman photo
Before dark we gathered the children for a group picture. After the picture, Nanga started to talk to the children about his growing up without a father, about stopping school way too soon, and how lucky they were to have a safe, loving place to live. I swear the children listened to Nanga talk without moving a muscle for over a half hour. When Nanga finished talking, the children gathered around him and wanted to touch him, or hold his hand and talk some more.
These little ones are truly amazing, and as we said goodbye the next day, they waved to us as they walked down the road to school. We wanted to stay until they came back.
Neel, Executive Director of the program (in red), talks to the children
and introduces Nanga Dorje Sherpa. Barbara Gessmana photo
Thank you Deana, thank you Mountain Madness, for opening up this world to me. I hope to visit the Little Angel’s Children’s Home again this winter or summer and to help with funds from the U.S. for the construction of the new orphanage building!