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Friday, 29 November 2013

Holiday Cheer from WELNepal!

Women using sewing machines
This year has been good for WELNepal. We have now helped over 4,000 women in the lowlands of Nepal learn to read and write in their language for the first time in their lives. We are also launching some great new projects — our vegetable shop and sewing machine projects — in 2014. None of these projects would be possible without the generosity of our loyal donors and supporters. We — and the women we work with — are incredibly grateful.

With the holiday season fast approaching, we've been thinking about how to generate more help for more women in our project area. While searching for ways to raise funds and awareness, we came across a new and inspiring movement — Giving Tuesday.

According to Giving Tuesday’s website, “It is a new Canadian movement for giving and volunteering, taking place each year after Cyber Monday. The ‘Opening day of the giving season,’ it is a day where charities, companies and individuals join together to share commitments, rally for favourite causes and think about others.”

When we first heard about this movement, we knew we had to get on board. The event, which takes place on December 3, will allow our supporters to make a donation to WELNepal on Giving Tuesday’s website.

If you’re interested in making a holiday donation, simply visit the website and click on “Give to Any Charity.” Once you click, simply type in WELNepal and wait to be taken to a link to our donation page. You can donate any amount. A little (just $25 teaches one woman to read and write) goes a long way in Nepal.

In other holiday news, WELNepal is also offering supporters a chance to make a donation in honour of a loved one. Anyone who wishes to give to WELNepal on a friend or relative’s behalf will also get the opportunity to send an original WELNepal Christmas card (featuring photos of the women we work with) to the person to whom the donation is dedicated.

So, if you donate $25 in your mother’s name, we will send her a card letting her know what your donation will do for the women we work with.

To dedicate a donation to someone, follow these instructions:

1)    Donate Online by clicking the Canada Helps button on the page.

Simply follow the instructions and indicate the amount you wish to give.

In the message/instructions box, please provide us with:

-The donor’s name
-The recipient’s name
-The recipient’s mailing address
-A personalized dedication (optional)

And last but not least, WELNepal wants to give a BIG THANK YOU to All Saints Catholic Elementary School in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Earlier this fall, David Daai proposed hosting a small clothing drive for the children in our project area - a village where so many children shiver through icy evenings and chilly mornings because they lack warm clothes in good condition.

WELNepal managed to get in touch with Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board trustee Sharon Hobin, who put us in touch with All Saints. The clothing drive was a great success! Now, children in Nepal will have hundreds of items of clothing to keep them warm over the next five to 10 YEARS!

Thank you all for giving the children in Nepal a tremendous Christmas gift that will last many, many years.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Our 12th Annual Benefit Bash

WELNepalis (left to right) Barry, Anton, Ashley, David Daai, Anh, Diana, Betty

WELNepal recently threw its 12th Annual Benefit Bash, and what a bash it was! It was our first time in Toronto’s famed Tranzac Club and the venue was perfect. There was a plenty of room to meet, mingle and dance (and believe us, dancing was a big part of the evening!).

Auction tables
We welcomed about 100 guests to the party and treated them to delicious food donated and prepared by “our” chefs Mike and Max and popular Toronto restaurants The Roastery and Mt. Everest. We also showcased live entertainment, including performances by Nepali musical group Aryan and Band (fronted by adorable three-year-old drummer Aryan), belly dance troupe Tribe MayaFire and high-energy afro-pop band Njacko Backo and Kalimba Kalimba. DJ Simon provided the perfect soundtrack in between performances.
Aryan and Band

We also received a great response to our silent auction, and some lucky guests walked away with hockey tickets, original art, Nepali and Canadian-made jewellery and more. Guests also liked our colourful grab bags, and for the first time ever, we offered attendees the opportunity to sponsor two young women that we work with in Nepal.

Thanks to some very generous donors, both girls will be starting post-secondary school soon.

Njacko Backo and Kalimba Kalimba

All of us at WELNepal — and all the
women we work with — are incredibly grateful to everyone who took the time to come out and celebrate our work with us. The benefit is so much more than a simple fundraiser. It’s about raising awareness of the issues so many Nepali women face and doing so in a fun, memorable and meaningful way. The night is a celebration of our mission, our women’s groups, Nepal and our incredible donors. We hope everyone had as fantastic an evening as we did and we hope to see you all next year!

We’d also like to take this opportunity to offer a very, very special thanks to the people who dedicated so much time to making this benefit the best it could be.

Tribe MayaFire with Aryan
A heartfelt thanks to our Maitre D and host Michael, all of our performers, Anneli, Pat, Anh, Jennifer, Big Guy Shane, Meesh, Hideki, Eli, Suzanne, Betty, Isabelle, Holly, Ethel, Celina, Chip and Nancy (for her famous noodle salad that she kindly provides every year). If we forgot anybody, feel free to call us out in the comments!

We’d also like to offer a huge thank you to our wonderful MC and dedicated donor and fan, Barry Flatman. His speech about his trip to Nepal helped boost the profile of the tiny country we all love so much.

So to everyone who came out to enjoy eating, drinking and partying with us — thank you! Your donations will give so many women the gift of literacy.



Friday, 4 October 2013

Our Benefit is TONIGHT!

Tribe MayaFire
After weeks of preparation, we're beyond excited to be welcoming friends, guests and supporters to our 12th Annual Benefit Bash tonight!

In case you missed our past blogs, here's a brief rundown of the details:

Monica McKenna's 12th Annual Benefit Bash for WELNepal

Friday, October 4 (that's TONIGHT)! at 7:00 pm at The Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto)

There will be live entertainment and performances by:

DJ Simon

A Nepali percussion and flute duo

Belly dance troupe Tribe MayaFire

Oh, and did we mention that there will also be a fantastic complimentary buffet dinner and a silent auction featuring hockey tickets, electronics, jewellery, art and more?

We'd absolutely love to see you at all at what promises to be a fun and memorable celebration of your generosity and, most of all, the incredible achievements that the women in Nepal have made with your support.

Visit our website for more information on how to buy tickets for tonight's event (minimum $40 donation suggested).

See you tonight!



Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Barry's Time with WELNepal

President David Daai: I met Barry many years ago when he came to my studio for his promotional photos.  After leaving the photography business, I did not see Barry for some years.  We met again at a small fundraiser thrown for WELNepal by a mutual friend. 

As other guests listened intently to stories about my work in Nepal, Barry would wander by cracking jokes.  I wondered why my old client even bothered to come. At the end of the evening, some of the guests gave me cheques for $25 or $50. Barry then sat down beside me and asked “how much did you say it costs to cover a whole women’s literacy class for one year?"

I told Barry that we would need $450 to do that, and Barry took out his cheque book and wrote me a cheque for that amount.  That was eight years ago, and Barry has been supporting a literacy class every year since then.  The money and the hockey tickets that he donates to our silent auction have helped literally hundreds of women learn to read and write.

That’s my friend Barry. Please enjoy his lovely recap of his incredible trip to Nepal this past winter. 

Barry Flatman with his class in Sauraha, Nepal
Sept. 20, 2011: After waiting nearly twenty years, I had both my knees replaced at the same time. For much of those twenty years, I had been “bone on bone” – that is, no cartilage to buffer the grinding of the bones inside my knees. I had become bow legged, developed numerous bone spurs, had two distended knee caps, was riddled with arthritis, had ground my teeth down from the constant pain and moved about the Earth more like an angry, hobbled 80-year-old than the almost 61-year-old I actually was. 

The rehab was very hard, very painful and very morphine-filled, but after several months, I found myself walking without crutches and back at work once again - PAIN FREE! One does not entirely realize just how much suffering you have endured until the pain is actually gone – a revelation to be sure. But in the larger picture of the real world, I was soon to discover how little I truly knew about hardship and suffering, or, for that matter, the revelations arising from their absence.

I began to plan for one year ahead, when I knew my knees would be the best they would be for the rest of my life. Looking back on what I was unable to do for the past two decades, it became apparent that climbing in the Himalayas was at the top of my wish list. I further reasoned that if I was to make the journey to Nepal, I would also be able to visit my friend David Walton and see firsthand the extraordinary work of WELNepal – an organization I've supported for many years.

A few of the Himalayas
After much careful planning, I found myself winging my way to Nepal! Upon entering the village of Sauraha, where WELNepal is headquartered, I was immediately struck by how clear and direct the people were. I consider myself to be a pretty open and honest person, but I was not prepared for how they looked straight into my eyes, seeming to look into my soul to see who I really was. There was none of the “filtering” I was used to in my western urban environment – no sense of being on guard, of wondering “who is this and what does he want from me?” or “what can I get from him?”. If they decided they would be your friend – that was it! You were friends and you would obviously be coming to their house for dinner that night! They had so very, very little in their lives compared to us but they would, literally from that moment forward, give you the food off their plates and the clothes off their backs without a second thought.

The emphatic greeting of “Namaste,” shared a thousand times a day between
Barry preparing for his motorbike ride to the village
all men, women and children, is deeply rooted (they teach it to their babies in diapers) and is an essential exchange between two wondrous creatures (them and you) that recognizes the unifying divinity within all of us. It is almost always accompanied by a big, open, gorgeous, pearly-white smile transforming a brief encounter into a blessed event – a loving exchange between two human beings.

Another thing I was not prepared for was the sheer physical beauty of the Nepalese – seemingly every man, woman and child. From the most extraordinarily beautiful eyes, hands, and faces to the startling colours of their wardrobe to the flowing grace by which they move - they are simply stunning people and a joy to behold. Given our western preoccupation with youth and beauty, it was initially culturally bewildering to me to see women, who would be described in the west as having “fashion model” looks, appearing to display no awareness of their beauty whatsoever. They, quite obviously, did not seem to attach the same importance or value to such things.  I would soon discover one disturbing reason as to why.

The people I met and befriended in Sauraha demonstrated such warmth and caring in a reality that is so very harsh and unforgiving – especially for the women. From what I observed, the women work from well before dawn to long after dark. They do the cooking, the cleaning, the sewing, the mending, the washing, the scavenging for wood and the hauling of water. They raise the children, tend to the livestock, work the fields and run the shop if there is one. A young, uneducated girl is often viewed as just another mouth to feed and, as soon as possible, will be married off to another family where she will work in servitude to them for the rest of her life. Beauty has little or no useful purpose in this existence.

WELNepal is making a difference and it is breathtaking to behold. All over the region, women are coming together in small groups and, under WELNepal’s guidance, are learning to read. By educating themselves, they are finding hope and fresh possibility in their lives.

Barry in Sauraha
Since David Walton began this work 17 years ago, 67 women’s groups have formed in the Chitwan region. WELNepal conducts basic literacy and advanced literacy classes and has created some 15 libraries along the way. The women have created a micro bank for themselves, supporting each other to develop (with WELNepal's help) small income generating enterprises: mushroom growing, candle making and organic farming. Next year may see the digging of wells for year round irrigation and the creation of marketplaces for them to sell the goods and vegetables they have created. And they do all this in addition to their day-to-day work in their homes and communities.

David is known as David Daai in Nepal – a term of endearment and respect – a cherished “older brother” in their family. A quote from a woman brought stark clarity to my understanding of WELNepal’s vital work. She said “I owe a great deal to WELNepal. Before, I used to feel like an animal. Now, I feel like a human being.” There was no attempt to make you feel sorry for her and no sense that she was angry about her lot in life. It was simply a fact.

We must continue to support WELNepal. This, too, is simply a fact.

Oh, yes. I did, also, finally climb in the Himalayas. I embarked on a ten day trek to Annapurna Base Camp in the valley know as The Sanctuary – alt. 4,200 metres. In seeing the sunrise there, I said goodbye to the last twenty years of my life and welcomed the next twenty.

I will never again complain about my “suffering”. 

Barry Flatman is a Canadian actor who has appeared in numerous films and television shows. He has starred in ReGenesis, The Kennedy’s, Murdoch Mysteries, Defiance, and Saw III. He is also a longtime friend of David Daai and a generous and loyal supporter of WELNepal’s work.


Monday, 16 September 2013

WELNepal's 12th Annual Benefit Bash!

Monica McKenna’s 12th Annual Benefit Bash for WELNepal
7:00 pm on Friday, October 4 2013
The Tranzac Club
292 Brunswick Ave
Toronto, Ontario

Last year's bash
It’s that time of year again! The time when WELNepal’s dedicated friends and supporters can gather at a hip Toronto hotspot to celebrate yet another year in the life of WELNepal. Over the years, we’ve helped more than 4,000 women in the lowlands of Nepal master literacy. Now, we’re dedicated to helping them tackle even bigger and more challenging projects.

This year, we worked tirelessly with our Nepali coordinators and women’s groups to hammer out plans for a vegetable shop that will be owned and operated by the women themselves. We watched the women tackle candle-making with inspiring enthusiasm. We also decided to start investing in well-digging and sewing machine projects, as our women’s groups are demanding more income generating programs. 
Our new candle-making class

We grow bigger and bigger every year, and it’s because of YOU and your generous support and encouragement.

To show you how thankful we and the women are, we’re inviting you to a fundraiser that will raise awareness, help the women in our project area further their goals, and — best of all — show you a good time complete with complimentary food, live music and entertainment and a silent auction.

We’re excited to host our beloved bash at The Annex’s famed Tranzac Club for the first time, and even more excited to welcome back, by popular demand, the beautiful women of the belly dance troupe Tribe MayaFire.

Tribe MayaFire
You can also expect delicious food donated by T.O restaurants Mt. Everest and The Roastery. The rest of the food will be generously supplied by our loyal “Chefs de la Maison Extraordinaire” Mike and Max. Guests will also be able to, for first time in our benefit’s history, purchase myriad boozy beverages from the establishment’s cash bar.

This year, our much-anticipated silent auction will showcase jewellery created by Nepali and Canadian designers, Nepali and Canadian art, restaurant gift cards, hockey tickets, cameras, authentic Nepali crafts and more.

Stay tuned to our website and Facebook and Twitter pages for more info on musical performers! 
Last year's silent auction

If you plan on coming to the benefit (and we sincerely hope you do!), you can RSVP to David Walton by email or by calling (416) 603-4399. If you sign up for our mailing list (which you can also do by emailing David at the email address above), you can donate by clicking the “donate” link in our latest newsletter and be automatically added to our guest list (our suggested minimum donation is $40). You will also be automatically added to our guest list if you donate on our website (please leave your name to be added). You can also pay by cash or cheque at the door the night of the event (sorry, no debit or credit!).

It’s also not too late to contact David if you have any silent auction items you wish to donate!
The women we work with have come so far, and we couldn’t have helped them if we didn’t have all of you generously supporting our cause. So come out this fall and give a little bit to a woman in need — and have a great time doing it!

We hope to see you all there!



Monday, 2 September 2013


You may remember hearing about Sharmila in our previous newsletter. She even has a page dedicated to her on our website, but we want to talk about her here, too. We can also show you more pictures of her and her incredible work for her community and WELNepal!

Several years ago, Sharmila came to our organization and asked us to fund literacy classes in her district of Pithuwa.  She asked us to sponsor many classes, and we were able to fund three. When I (David) returned the following year, I was informed that those three groups were doing very well. In fact, they were the top performers among all our classes.  Why? Because Sharmila made a point of regularly visiting “her” classes to ensure that they were being run properly.  She even took it upon herself to fire an under-performing teacher.
Sharmila teaching
With commitment like that from a woman with such leadership skills, we did not hesitate to give Sharmila all the literacy classes she could handle. We have now sponsored 12 classes in Pithuwa, and under Sharmila’s supervision, they are all fully involved in our Advanced and Remedial classes.
But sponsoring literacy classes was not enough for Sharmila. She wanted ALL of WELNepal’s other projects to be made available to ALL the women’s groups in her area. She also refused to wait for all the women’s groups to finish their two-year literacy classes before tackling other projects. Sharmila wanted even more opportunities for her groups and she wanted them NOW.

And now, in Pithuwa, the women have a library. Most of the women’s groups have been involved in our three-day health training. Women’s groups are growing and selling mushrooms. All of these projects operate under the watchful eye of Sharmila. And all projects in Pithuwa are incredibly successful.

Sharmila taught me an important lesson — projects run by driven, passionate alpha female leaders are the projects with the highest success rates. Now, WELNepal works with other dedicated women such as Ahilia, who lives in Majuwa, Binita, who inspires the women in her group in Kathar, Tan Kumari, who ensures successful projects in her village of Badahara and Samjhana in Lothar, who oversees and motivates a number of women’s groups.

Sharmila has been an exceptional addition to the on-the-ground WELNepal team for several reasons. Firstly, she works efficiently and effectively to ensure “her” groups are benefiting from our classes. Secondly, she models the qualities we hope to instill in the women we work with. She’s ambitious and she’s not afraid to advocate for herself and her community. She shows everyone that rural women from the lowlands of Nepal have the potential to be great leaders who value education, community and personal growth. For anyone looking for a success story to link to female literacy in the developing world, look no further then Sharmila.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Visiting Nepal

Visiting Nepal

Before I begin, let me say that I’m not really a seasoned traveler. I, like most other WELNepalis, am from Toronto. I’ve traveled to multiple destinations in Canada, US and Europe, and while in Europe for the first time back in 2007, I experienced minor culture shock regarding the different languages, casual approaches to line ups, and stringent dining etiquette in certain areas (no pasta at 5 pm in Paris no matter how badly you want carbs!).

I felt out of sorts and out of place and thought my Amsterdam hostel looked like a women’s prison.

To be fair, it kind of did. Picture a dozen bunk beds, one sink, and a bathroom with semi-open showers. But I was in Amsterdam. I was in the lovely, clean and prosperous Netherlands and I was complaining. Not complaining about everything, mind you, but vocalizing my discontent with my accommodations pretty regularly. And it wasn’t even that my hostel was all that bad. It was just different. As I learned on that trip and others that followed, different can be hard.

So imagine my shock when I went to Nepal to visit WELNepal’s project area in February of this year.

That was more than just different.

When I arrived in Kathmandu, I was struck by how tiny and chaotic the brown wooden airport was. A sign warned me of the forthcoming constant car horns, as horns are “how Nepali’s express themselves!”

*I should also say, before I go on, that my entire two-week trip was expertly organized by WELNepal’s good friend (and excellent travel agent), Nawal Khattri. You can visit Nawal’s website here:

Thamel district in Kathmandu
Once I arrived at Hotel Blue Horizon in the famed district of Thamel, I met up with two friends and fellow WELNepalis Kim and Diana.

Diana (L), Kim (C) and Ashley (me) (R)
They had been touring Kathmandu for several days with one of our wonderful guides, Mingmar, and assured me that I would get used to the chaos and wildly different surroundings.

But while I will admit it’s hard to feel at ease when you don’t know how to “work” the culture and you stand out so much by virtue of your appearance and mannerisms, we never felt unsafe. Aside from bargaining difficulties while shopping (prepare to haggle!), the people were incredibly welcoming and eager to chat.

After my first night in Kathmandu, we boarded a Greenline bus to Pokhara. Pokhara is where tourists begin their Annapurna treks, and as we found out, Annapurna treks are really hard.

Beautiful Pokhara

Our second wonderful guide, Dawa, met us at the bus station with our porter, Nima, and both accompanied us to our glorious Trek O Tel in Pokhara. Trek O Tel is a three-star hotel with beautiful gardens and spacious, homey rooms with tub showers that are reliably hot. It also boasts a lovely in-house restaurant with a buffet station.

Now, most tourists who visit Nepal do so to trek. The trekking can be, depending on your fitness and skill level, unexpectedly difficult (or at least it was for me!). But the scenery is profoundly beautiful and the opportunity to immerse yourself — if only very temporarily — in the communities along the path is unmatched by anything else. You’ll see mountain homes and colourful (but Spartan) lodges. You’ll also appreciate how hard it is to live in the mountains when you see people — often women — walking up steep stone steps in flip flops with sacks of rocks on their backs. You’ll also get pushed out of the way by a mule carrying a gas tank.
After our trek ended, we finally made our way to Sauraha to enjoy the Chitwan region and meet several of the women’s groups involved in WELNepal.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by David (affectionately known in the village as David Daai — which essentially means Brother David). David Daai is a mini-celebrity in the little village, and people will often come out of their shops or restaurants to ask him if he’s eaten (a common question in Nepal). Through David, we met many wonderful families, including the Rimal’s and a hospitable family who taught Anton, my boyfriend, how to play a traditional Nepali board game on a rainy day (below).

A family we played some boardgames with on a rainy day

We went to the Rimal’s tiny and delicious restaurant (run out of their home) several times over the week we spent in the village. There, while eating the best dal bhat we had on the trip, we chatted with the couple’s two daughters, Susmita and Asmita. Susmita is currently working as a volunteer nurse (at the time, she was preparing for her exams — exams that apparently went quite well!).

David Daai, Anton, me and Diana with the Rimal family

But the most exciting part of the trip came when we got to spend a day with some of WELNepal's women's groups.

Early one morning, we set out on motorbikes driven by some of WELNepal’s generous and hardworking coordinators, including Raj and Jugge.

On my way to the villages

We visited their office, and then set off in drizzling rain to see the classes first hand. Our first stop was the women of Ashley and Anneli’s class (named after me and WELNepal’s webmaster, Anneli West).

The women welcomed us into an open, outdoor space by giving us beautiful flowers to hold. After the coordinators introduced us and explained our visit, we got to chat with the women and their curious, excited children. We also got to take pictures, and every child was excited to see each and every shot. 

After we finished visiting with that class, we went to visit the women involved in L.M. Clark’s class (L.M. Clark is a Canadian customs brokerage company that sponsors a Basic Literacy Class). This class had a huge open area in the middle of what appeared to be a rectangular rural complex. The women and their children sat outside on the ground, and gave each of us a bouquet to welcome us.

The women of L.M. Clark’s class weren’t at all shy — and neither were their children. They happily posed for photos, asked questions through a translator, and chatted with us about their class and asked us questions about our lives in Canada. It was during this meeting that we first saw Sharmila. Sharmila, as you might expect, carries herself confidently. She speaks loudly and clearly and is visibly proud of the women she represents.

One interesting question that the women asked is whether or not any Canadian donors would be willing to start an educational organization for Tharu children.
Some of the women (and their children) in L.M. Clark's Class

For those who don’t know, the Tharu people are an indigenous ethnic group native to the Terai region of Nepal (the area that borders India). But although they are recognized as a distinct ethnic group, many children are disadvantaged from a young age because they do not speak Nepali and, as a result, fall behind quickly during their early schooling years.  During our meeting, one of the women asked if we could fund a school for Tharu children.

It was hard to say that there wasn’t much we could do immediately, but that we would keep her important request in mind.

View of a Tharu village
After our visit ended, we walked through the village and admired the colourful houses and sprawling cattle.

Our last stop of the day was George and Eva’s vegetable growing group.

The women involved in this group grow mushrooms and they showed us around their expansive property and even showed us where they make and store their homemade fertilizer. They, too, happily posed for pictures and showed us their colourful homes.
George and Eva's women's group

A day after we visited WELNepal’s women’s groups, we went to a small Tharu village and spoke with some of the local girls. Diana showed them pictures of her friends, home and family back in Canada and David Daai told one of the girls that I let my dog (who I showed her a picture of) sleep in my bed with me.

She seemed shocked (that isn’t typically done in Nepal), but was very polite about it. A little Tharu boy also let us pet his beloved baby goat (below).

After we walked through the Tharu village, we went to visit the women of Sapana. For those who don’t know, Sapana is a Canadian company that produces and sells products that are handmade by Nepalese employees using New Zealand wool (a very international company indeed!). You can check out their website here: They produce clothing and accessories, and the women there showed us the stuffed children’s toys they were creating in their airy, open office that was complete with a tiny kitchen and a bedroom for an employee’s new baby.

As our time in Sauraha drew to a close, we tried to say goodbye to as many of the generous Nepali friends we met as we could. We visted the Rimal’s one last time for buffalo mo-mos, and they were just as good as the mo-mos we all devoured several nights earlier at a local musical festival.

David with local boys at a food and music festival
We took email addresses and Facebook friend requests and prepared to leave David Daai’s tiny village and the women of WELNepal, promising to return as soon as we could. The atmosphere in the village is unmatched by anything else. It’s not like the bigger cities where you can get lost among tourist spots and have to work to avoid careening vehicles and stray animals (though there are lots of heartbreaking strays and cars in the village and you must be careful to avoid the cars). The village has a quietness and friendliness about it. The people are open and talkative and helpful. They welcome you into their shops and homes and restaurants with genuine smiles and enthusiasm.

There’s also much to do in the village. Besides visiting the women, we rode an elephant, saw wild rhinos, went on a crocodile canoe ride and hiked in the jungle.

Wild rhino!

A friendly stranger with a flashlight helped us find our way back to our hotel during a blackout and the employees at that same hotel came and got us from our rooms one night when they worried we were missing out on a Tharu dance in a meeting room.

We drank more masala tea than we can remember and bought more than our share of special Nepali tchotkes. We also saw many mahoods riding their elephants through town.

You won’t see that in Canada. Ever.

So while it would be a lie to say that a trip to Nepal isn’t quite different if you don’t know what to expect, it’s certainly more than worth the long journey to get there.

So, in the words of David Daai, when are you coming? 

--- Ashley Newport