Ironically, my love affair with Nepal with its expansive and all-encompassing scenery, along with its generous and charming people, began early one morning on a cramped underground journey to work in central London.
Flicking through the mornings free newspaper, I came across an advert for a charity trek up the Khumbu Valley towards Mount Everest, culminating at the head of the valley with promised views of the world’s Mother Goddess Chomolungma
Three months later, and having raised nearly £8000 for charity, I landed in the madness that is Kathmandu. I had no idea what to expect, but had always felt a calling to the Himalaya and an affinity with the philosophical teachings of Buddhism
As soon as my foot touched her soil and my lungs breathed her air this country, this place, these people, this culture permeated my heart and my soul.
The next thirteen days involved an internal flight to Lukla (reputably one of the world’s most dangerous airports) following the Khumbu Valley to Gorak Shep, where we would summit Kala Pattar, a small hill by Nepali standards sitting at a mere 5550m. Only then would we see her. Mighty Chomolungma . Steadfast and overpowering in her magnificence.
On descending the valley I found it increasingly difficult with each step to move back towards ‘the real world’. I had a sense that the mountains didn’t want me to leave, and as a magnet draws things closer, they wanted to encompass me with their invisible arms and dance with me for eternity.
It was no surprise that by the time I arrived back in Kathmandu I had already resolved to return to Nepal as soon as time allowed. Plans got underway immediately, and before the next year was up, I found myself back in the Khumbu Valley. Back to what had very quickly become my second home.
I have since returned to Nepal every year for increasingly longer periods of time, with my desire to return becoming far more complex than my original self-centred motivation and the personal gratification of trekking and climbing the highest mountains on earth.
I am now irreversibly aware of the discrepancy of privilege within and between countries.
I believe that no human should suffer because of where they were born, who they were born to, or what gender they are. I have truly learnt and believe that EVERY LIFE MATTERS EQUALLY.
I have seen this. I have felt this. I know this.
The devastating earthquakes of 2015 and the continuous political discord within Nepal have acted as an impetus for me to work to resolve in whatever way I can the lack of freedom, the discrepancy of privilege and the marginalisation of minority groups experienced by many Nepali on a daily and lifelong basis.
I have recently established Unite for Nepal a small charitable foundation dedicated to the support, development and growth of sustainable community driven health, wellbeing and equal opportunity projects in rural Nepal.
We at Unite for Nepal believe anything can be achieved through generosity of spirit, actions based on the imaginings of the mind, a compassionate heart, and a commitment from the soul.
Nepal is a country with a particularly alluring and magical energy. It is a country whose irresistible pull is founded in an ancient society and culture which, to this day, is still upheld on a day to day basis by those who call themselves Nepali.
With all of its layers of complexity and its multitude of contradictions, Nepal has a sense of wholeness and calm.
Above all else, the most lasting impression of any visit to Nepal, is that left by the Nepali people themselves. Those who are always smiling in the face of adversity and whose hospitality, generosity of heart and forever welcoming smiles will most definitely have you returning at least once in a lifetime.
Put quite simply, Nepal is unsurpassable.