During the last school holidays, sixteen students, one parent and one teacher completed an eight day trekking trip in the Annapurna area of Nepal. The group did some sightseeing, got involved with the local villagers at grass-roots level and some serious trekking. They also donated $1600 (US) to an orphanage which plans to use this money to build a retaining wall, extend a fence and provide equipment for the students. The money was raised by our current students, parents, staff and ex students who have previously trekked in Nepal.

Nepal is an in-your-face country and can be very overwhelming; haggling hawkers, death-wish traffic, toilets that make you gag, cultural vibrancy and the peaceful coexistence between Budduism and Hinduism. Then there is the Himalayas, containing not only the world’s highest peak, but also 1300 peaks over 6000m (Mt Cook is less than 3800m).

The Annapurna is one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world and the people who live there are hardy and friendly but extremely poor. One observation the students made is that even though Nepal is one of the poorest countries on earth, its people, especially the children generally appear to be happy and proud. The poverty and hardship of life in these communities is at times confronting, but the students who have participated in this trip return feeling a new sense of gratitude for the life we have in New Zealand.

The Nepal trekkers with teacher Bharat Pancha