About 18 months ago, I was approached by the Mountain Company with a proposal to run a charity trek in Sikkim under their auspices for the benefit of HELP’s various projects in the Himalayas. This seemed like a good idea at the time, providing tourists with a chance to stay in a Sikkimese village and to visit a school we are helping (en route to the start of their trek), in return for a donation to boost HELP’s funds.
Disappointingly, we have had no takers. My guess is that many of our contacts, especially our ex-volunteers, know the Himalayas already, and don’t need to use a UK-based company to arrange their treks. As for people who don’t know us, it seems likely that they would be more inclined to choose a charity trek that raises money for a cause they can relate to, such as cancer research or disaster relief. Raising money to participate in a charity trek is extra work, and, for those who have not visited the Himalayas, the state of education in the region may not seem like a cause that is worth the effort.
Whatever the reason for the lack of interest, my son, Alan, and I are going ahead with the trek which will take us close to Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. We fly out to India on 10th October, and, after visiting schools in Sikkim, we will start the eight-day trek, which will take us up to an altitude of 5000 metres (16,000 feet), on 16th.
I don’t want to throw in the towel at this stage and give up trying to use the trek to raise funds for HELP. I hope to send Barbara Porter to Ladakh next September to run a teacher training seminar for local teachers in Leh, which I am sure most of you will agree is a worthy cause. Barbara, a free-lance teacher trainer, volunteered with us as a teacher at St. Paul’s primary school in South Sikkim three years ago, and went back last February to run a couple of successful one-week seminars for local teachers in Kalimpong and Gangtok respectively. You can see extracts from her report in this blog . The total cost of the trip, including Barbara’s fees, was £2000, and we need to raise a similar amount for her next trip.
If you agree with us that training local teachers is an excellent way of improving the quality of teaching in village schools, and would like to sponsor us, the thing to do is to go to the donations page of our website (www.help-education.org/donate) and complete the online form, noting in the comments box that you are sponsoring our trek.
Wish us luck!
Director, Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme