A group of youngsters of
UWC Mahindra College, Pune have decided to climb 6000 meters in the Ladakh region to raise funds for Nepal to support post emergency reconstruction work in this Himalayan region. This will be done through crowd funding. The expedition is also special as it provides rural girls of Maharashtra with a ray of hope by way of Akshara – a local impact initiative of the International school, UWC Mahindra College in Pune, which aims to empower individuals living in rural areas, by providing them access to educational opportunities and personal support
The devastating earthquake in Nepal, around two weeks ago, resulted in large scale loss of human lives, destruction of World Heritage Sites and more tragically left survivors homeless and, in many ways, in a hopeless situation.
The people of this Himalayan region have to fight to rebuild not only their homes but their lives, too. These people do not need our sympathy. They need our empathy.
International school, UWC Mahindra College in Pune, which is involved in outdoor education, is raising funds in a unique manner – by way of climbing the Great Himalayas of the Ladakh region.
A group of 15 young economically and socially disadvantaged women from villages near Pune, along with twenty-five international students, are part of the four-week expedition, which will start on May 25. Summit objectives include Stok Kangri (6150m) and Lungser Kangri (6667m) in Ladakh,
These pioneering women are a part of Kriyā, a student-led initiative at UWC Mahindra College that works with disadvantaged youth on physical fitness, confidence building, and overcoming societal and self-imposed limitations in the outdoors.
Marija Uzunova, faculty and mentor for this initiative, says: “We are conducting this expedition for the third time. All our expeditions happen through fund raising. However, this is the first time we are raising funds for a cause.” She was speaking at a press briefing held at a city hotel, on May 5.
Marija said that initially when they heard about the earthquake they had wanted to cancel the expedition. “But it would have demoralised the girls who had been working on this expedition for the last few months. Then we decided that we will raise funds for Nepal by way of the expedition.”
When asked about their association with Goa the group said they had been inspired by the student leader of this programme, Malaika Vaz, to come down to Goa to spread the word about this cause.
This expedition is not a usual expedition on many counts. For one the funds it will raise will provide the quake struck Himalayan country with monetary relief and two it will reshape the lives of rural girls who are part of this expedition. Sharing her story during the press briefing was Seema, who said that her life got new meaning after being part of the Mahindra College. “I come from a village near Pune. I was married off at seventeen and moved to Mumbai. I was a victim of domestic violence and suffered from depression. When I joined the UWC College, it changed my life. The strenuous physical exercise needed for this expedition made me feel good. Now I motivate other girls from the village.”
Through crowd funding the group plans to raise around 20,000 US Dollars. Marija further explained that they are taking utmost care to ensure that their funds are not mismanaged. “We have many friends in Nepal and have been part of various expeditions there. We have a fair idea about the help needed. The funds raised will go towards supporting post emergency reconstruction efforts by two local organisations. We are contributing part of the funds to the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal that is working towards rebuilding Dalit homes in the Nagarkot district in central Nepal. The other half of the funds will go to the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation that is supporting Sherpa widows and families to mitigate the effects of loss of life, livelihood and homes to indigenous climbing communities in the Khumbu region in the foothills of Mt Everest.”
The Sherpa community forms the backbone of Nepal’s climbing industry and takes great risks to provide for their families. The community has been hit hard for two years in a row, with an avalanche last April and now the earthquake. With the belief that women all around the world should be able to support themselves and that physical activity is always transformational, the women from Kriyā reach out to these widows.
(Individuals who are interested in supporting this programme get in touch with the college and write to firstname.lastname@example.org . To donate directly, please visit the fundraising campaign online at https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/1244875)