MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving in Nepal

As we reflect on the things we are thankful for this week, it is important to remember those around the world who are less fortunate. Over the years, Mountain Madness has been getting more opportunities to give back to the communities we visit on our mountaineering and trekking trips. When you trek with Mountain Madness in Nepal, we donate a portion of your trip fee to support families and children in Nepal. This year, we worked with Changing Lives Nepal to help support 13 children at an orphanage plus over 150 rural farmers improving their lives by learning to grow organic tea. 

Mark reads to the children during his visit to Kathmandu last October.
Mark Gunlogson photo

Rural families in Nepal can earn substantial income by
learning to grow tea on otherwise unusable land.
Deana Zabaldo photo

A local tea nursery where farmers learn to cultivate tea saplings.
Deana Zabaldo photo

The orphanage has given these children (and staff) a new start. Children who had insufficient food, no parents or abusive family situations, and little education now form a family, have regular meals, are learning responsibility, and have good health care and regular school attendance. The home has self-sufficient components to cover some of its needs, and Changing Lives Nepal provides additional support for food, toilets, school scholarships, uniforms, and books.

The Children's Home. Mark Gunlogson photo

In 2009, MM Guide Deana Zabaldo, who has been instrumental in the organization of the orphanage, helped  with the renovation of a traditional farmhouse 3 hours from Kathmandu and the placement of children in the home. Children attend a nearby school, where we have also been involved. It has some of the best test scores in the region and has become entirely independent and self-sustaining.

To discourage begging, playing games with the children can go a long way.
Martin Sidwell photo

The farmhouse is surrounded by cash crops that both contribute to the children’s diet and are sold to generate income for the home. Their goal is to support 15 children through their basic education and to create a replicable model for sustainable, income-generating development in line with their philosophy.

Deana with the children. Mark Gunlogson photo

In 2011, Mark Gunlogson's daughter's Girl Scout troop worked hard to raise money to purchase a laptop for the home, which we were happy to send over to Kathmandu with Deana this month, as she prepared to lead the first Everest Base Camp Trek of the season. The Girl Scout troop also had a chance to interact with the children of the orphanage last season when they sewed unique pillows for the children. The kids were so excited to receive these gifts from their friends in Seattle. 

Ganga and Jamuna, twins named for sacred rivers in Nepal, are
two of the orphans going to school with Mountain Madness support.
Deana Zabaldo photo

Pasang Dorje Lama and Sanjay Giri with their pillows.
Mark Gunlogson photo

The orphans with their new laptop from Mountain Madness.
Deana Zabaldo photo

Mountain Madness is committed to social responsibility, and we are having a positive impact in Nepal. We lead the trekking industry in fair treatment of porters and staff, providing staff health insurance for emergencies, and paying good wages. We also give back throughout the year to help Nepal's rural poor. 

Join us for a 2012 Nepal Adventure with confidence that you are traveling responsibly...and traveling with the best! 

If you would like the chance to help these children, you can donate to Changing Lives Nepal. Thank you to those Everest Base Camp trekkers who have already done their part to make a difference. You are changing lives!

(some material above excerpted from