For Trekking. Against Hunger.
As our UK hospitality industry team celebrates reaching their trek summit in Nepal, we look back at their epic challenge & visit to Action Against Hunger's projects.
May 10 2018
At the end of April, following a year-long fundraising campaign to raise £100,000 in support of Action Against Hunger's work, a team of 17 UK hospitality industry ambassadors came together to tackle a gruelling 5 day trek across the Langtang Valley in Nepal and achieve their goal of summiting Kyanjing Gompa's 4,400m peak. The trek was not only physically but emotionally challenging, as the route took them through areas that suffered extensive damage and loss of life following the 2015 earthquake, which have only recently re-opened for trekking.
Action Against Hunger has worked in Nepal since 2005 and scaled up programmes in response to the emergency in 2015, with support from the UK hospitality industry, who fundraised for affected areas through the Restaurants for Nepal campaign.
Here are some key moments and highlights from this year's Ambassador Challenge and the team's subsequent visit to see Action Against Hunger's work in Nepal first hand.
1. Meet The Team
The #nepaltrek18 team comprises of 17 chefs, restaurateurs and hospitality experts from Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Bournemouth who share a love of food and a desire to take action against the causes and effects of child hunger. From left to right, our team members are:
- Richard Brown (Beastro)
- Louisa Hodge (AAH)
- Josh Moore (Northern Fields)
- Paddy Smith (Red & Blue Restaurants)
- Steph Whittingham (Hanover Street Social)
- Lucy Noone (R Noone & Son)
- James Bates (Maray)
- Aine Morris (Abergavenny Food Festival)
- Trip doctor, Robert
- Fiona Botham (Levanter, Baraxturi)
- Ross Mackenzie (Blackdog Ballroom, Crazy Pedros)
- Vince Margiotta (Cucina di Vincenzo)
- Dominic Borel (Pasta Loco, Pasta Ripiena)
- James Fowler (The Larderhouse)
- Jamie Randall (Adelina Yard)
- Anthony Fielden (TNQ)
- Kieran Waite (Bravas Tapas, Cargo Cantina, Bakers & Co.)
- Peter Sanchez-Iglesias (Casamia, Paco Tapas, Pi Shop)
- Challenge leader, Christina
- Out of shot - Josh Eggleton (The Pony & Trap, Root, Kensington Arms).
2. The Approach to Langtang
On Day 2 of the trek we reached the former site of Langtang village, which was destroyed by landslides following the earthquake in April 2015 with a loss of nearly 500 lives. The village is slowly being rebuilt further along the valley. This part of the trek really brought home the scale of the disaster and how much still needs to be done to help affected families get back on their feet, as Peter Sanchez-Iglesias found: "The scene was just pure devastation really. It has clearly had a very strong impact on some of the sherpas and porters who accompanied us, who were there when it happened, and it was very emotional. But what was good to see is that there is hope, there is rebuilding happening, everywhere - and guest houses are reopening. Visitor rates have only returned to around 30% of what they were and there is still a great deal of construction work to be completed, but it is happening."
3. The Final Ascent
The team making a slow, arduous ascent towards reaching their 4400m summit near Kyanjing Gompa. The altitude proved extremely challenging, and most of the team were reduced to walking a couple of steps at a time before stopping to breathe and continue. While describing this ascent as "horrendous" and the hardest thing they had ever done, the sense of triumph and achievement upon reaching the top was also profound.
4. Triumph at Kyanjing Gompa
A jubilant Nepal Trek team at the 4,400m summit of their trek, near Kyanjing Gompa. James Bates was relieved to reach the peak and warned against underestimating the challenge: "It's worth thinking about how taxing it is - not just physically but also emotionally. You're taken so far out of your comfort zone, which you can't really train for, but you really do need to prepare yourself for."
5. Meeting communities supported by Action Against Hunger
Once their incredible challenge was complete, it was time for our trekkers to meet Action Against Hunger's teams on the ground in Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts to see some of the work being delivered in partnership with communities there. In Bhorle, Nuwakot, our trekkers met the locally established Water Management Committee, who were keen to demonstrate the water reserve tank and household access points that have been installed by Action Against Hunger over the last 9 months. This reserve tank, which sits on the hillside above the village, services around 75 households within a radius of 1.5km and faciliates the transfer of water from local streams into the tank and down to the taps in each household.
6. Changing lives through simple interventions
In Bhorle, the local Water Management Committee demonstrated one of 55 household water points installed in the village by Action Against Hunger with the support of DfID. These water points save each household an hour's walk every time they need to collect water and carry it home, so that they can focus that time on other activities like childcare and income generation. Waste water from this water point is also used to propogate a flourishing communal vegetable garden next to the tap. James Fowler said: "It was eye-opening to see how lives have been transformed. What we may take for granted in our day-to-day lives are the biggest life-changing additions to these communities." This village was the first recipient in the district of a new water system and these installations are being replicated across the district.
7. Improving conditions for disaster-affected families
On the second day of their project visit the trek team visited an Action Against Hunger supported Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Nuwakot, where around 1,500 people took refuge after the earthquake and landslides destroyed their homes and land. Three years on, around half of the households are still living in the camp, as the deadline for closure approaches. The spread of disease is a high risk in camps with large populations and poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions; here the team hear from our Field Coordinator in Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts, Ravi Bhandari, about the water filtration systems that Action Against Hunger has put in place in the camp to ensure residents have access to clean, safe drinking water until they are able to move on to a new home.
8. Hopes For The Future
At the IDP camp, trekkers heard from families about their experiences since their arrival and their plans for the future. Man Kumasi Tamang, 25, came to the camp from neighbouring Rasuwa District when her village was damaged by landslides, along with many families from the area. She is in the process of rebuilding a new home near to the camp with financial support from the Nepalese government, which she hopes to move to soon with her young son. It has taken a long time to reach this point as families must find 50% of the rebuilding costs themselves, and this has been challenging for many. Around half of the families who came to the camp with Man Kumasi have been able to move on, but half remain. Action Against Hunger will continue to ensure that all families in the camp have access to safe drinking water until they are able to move on and the camp is closed.
Now in its 5th year, Action Against Hunger's Ambassador Challenge project sees teams from across the hospitality and food industries come together to take on a physical challenge in a country we work in, to raise funds for and awareness of Action Against Hunger's work. The Ambassador Challenge and its dedicated team of cyclists and trekkers has raised over £547,000 to date to support our work in nearly 50 countries and provide healthier futures for malnourished children and their families. It's not too late to support the team - if you'd like to sponsor them you can reach their fundraising page by clicking on the banner below.
Nepal Trek 2018
Find out how you can support the team with their fundraising efforts