Nepal… A Small Country With a Big Personality
We have been working in Nepal since 2015, and since then our work has exhibited the most rapid tree growth in any of our project nations. This February, our CEO, Steve Fitch, and International Operations Director, Sehr Ali, traveled to Nepal to visit our planting sites and nurseries and to strengthen our international leadership team. Now back in the U.S., Sehr writes about her visit and experience.
With Sehr’s words describing her experience and pictures taken along the way, we hope to help you envision the restoration that is occurring in Nepal through your support.
Steve (Eden's CEO) meeting local Eden managers
The neighbors out playing in the field
Best known for its impressive Himalayan peaks, Nepal is a small country with a big personality. Wedged between two giants, China and India, Nepal remains a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts and mountaineers. Internationally known for peaks like Everest, it is lesser-known that Nepal was once also covered with dense jungle, teeming with wildlife.
As we landed in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, our plane cuts through a thick layer of smog hovering just above the city. Once we had deplaned and exited the airport, the smog hit us like a ton of bricks. How could a country that was once covered with green lush forest be living under a cloud of pollution and smog?
After a few days in the capital, conducting meetings, interviews and training, we headed out to visit some of our reforestation sites. Visiting these sites however, is not as simple as it sounds. We work with some of the poorest most marginalized groups in the country, often in remote hard to reach areas. As we bumped along hours of unpaved dirt roads, we became accustomed to seeing the sight of women and children carrying loads of wood on their heads and backs. At one point, as we surveyed a new planting area, we came across a large group of women and children, all carrying machetes, axes and other manners of sharp tools for wood cutting. They had been walking for several miles in order to collect enough wood for their families uses for one week. The removal of reliance on fuel wood in Nepal is essential to the success of our projects, and while speaking to these women, it became obvious that given another option they would gladly forgo this weekly wood collecting trip.
This interaction became a common theme throughout our trip. The more people I spoke with, the more I understood the love and respect the Nepali people have for their forests and their environment. Having spent years depleting it, they were now looking for ways to bring back what they had lost, a lush, healthy canopy filled with wildlife.
This hope and ambition for change left its mark on us, and as the clouds of smog retreated in the background, we realized that Nepal is a country that leaves you just a little more hopeful than when you arrived.