The Everest Base Camp Series: A deeper purpose
Our count is down to seven weeks. We’re all starting to feel the pressure of: am I training hard enough? What am I forgetting in this planning process? Do I have the right clothing and gear to bring? Am I (as) prepared (as I can be) for the altitude?
Beyond all that, though, is a deep and meaningful drive, a greater purpose for this journey. We learned about The Juniper Fund rather recently through a friend. The Seattle-based nonprofit, “provides assistance to individuals, families and communities in underserved countries adversely impacted by their work for the mountain-based adventure industry.” Many of the families that the organization supports have lost a loved one while working on an expedition.
As we learned in last week’s blog, Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries. The Juniper Fund reports that unemployment and underemployment hovers near 50%. The United Nations estimates that over 25% of Nepal’s population lives in poverty, earning an average of $730 USD per year; yet, those who work on trekking and mountaineering expeditions can earn far more than this. In fact, some high-altitude workers can earn up to $6,000 over a two-month period in some seasons. While these careers can offer great promise, they also come with great danger.
Over the past 17 years, The Juniper Fund reports, 45 Nepalis have died working on Mt. Everest and several more on other expeditions. The sudden loss of income is devastating to these workers’ families and many are not lucky enough to secure alternative employment.
The Juniper Fund emphasizes that, “protection of local workers and their families is an important component in making sure the positive impacts of tourism are not outweighed by the negative impacts.” The organization provides a safety net for the families affected by a disabling injury or death of a worker.
So, as we push to be our best and most prepared selves over the next seven weeks, these families and those lost will be at the forefront of our minds. We look forward to meeting some of these committed individuals along our journey and will be sure to share their stories with you along the way.