This such an exciting announcement, and if you live in Durango you might have already read the article in the newspaper. Next week I will travel to Nepal with the Bhotia Foundation. The goal of this trip will be twofold: to open up a dialogue on women's health and to help women find more economic stability through the crafting of medicinal herb products. I am so excited to have been invited to assist on this life-changing journey to Nepal. Life changing for me, I'm sure, as it's an honor to be able to share my knowledge of plants and medicinal herbs to make an impact on a culture of women that have few resources and an even smaller voice. My greatest hope is that we can begin a greater conversation about women's health and in the future shift the lives of girls by sharing information and providing tools for earning a living wage from abundant plant resources.
HIMALAYAN TREK TO FOCUS ON IMPROVING
THE LIVES OF NEPALESE WOMEN & GIRLS
There is so much to this trip that it would be best to link you to the original article in the Durango Telegraph.Click here to read. I will be traveling with a small group from Durango and our journey will be arduous. The area we are visiting is all within the boundaries of Nepal’s 580-square-mile Makalu-Barun National Park, one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. We will be visiting small villages and our primary focus will be women's gatherings. Karma has set up meetings for us at every village we stay in. With the help of a translator and visual aids we will be sharing basic information about women's health and reproductive issues. Women's health is a taboo topic and is coupled with a cultural stigma that to bring attention to one's self is socially unacceptable. Women will endure much physical hardship before they will seek treatment or relief.
This is the very beginning of a process and much of our trip will be a fact finding mission. I have taken a deep dive into studying the botany of the region and while I have a good knowledge (and love!) of plants, I am finding the local flora to be wildly vast! It will be a growth experience for me, as well, to apply my skills as an herbalist to a new region. I will also be bringing a basic apothecary for acute conditions and helping those that I can. Karma and Jyamu, our fearless leaders and 'locals', think that I will be able to reach a lot of women and it would be another teaching opportunity. Jyamu and Karma grew up in Chyamtang. Jyamu will be our translator and facilitator for the women's groups.
Also on our team is Julie Korb, Professor of Biology at Fort Lewis college. Korb says, ’Part of the vision for the trek is to help women develop a source of income with products they make from plants growing around their villages. “Right now they simply harvest and bring raw materials to town to sell,” said Korb. “This isn’t sustainable, and they get hardly any money for the plants.”
Stephanie McGee, a graphic artist, has designed all of the visuals for educational material for our women's gatherings. Her husband is also joining the trek to assist.
How can you help? The truth is, a little goes a long way!
In addition to focusing on women's economic and physical health, the Bhotia Foundation will also be delivering basic supplies to villages along the 120-mile trek.
To help bridge the cultural divide with the universal language, the Rio Rapids Durango Soccer Club has donated soccer balls and pumps. Local students are also donating money for school supplies for their Nepalese counterparts.
The foundation is also looking for donations of old reading glasses and hats. (of both the ball cap and warm, fuzzy varieties) Glasses and hat donations can be dropped off at Dancing Willow Herbs, 1018 Main Ave.
And, of course, monetary donations are always welcome. According to Karma Bhotia, founder of the Bhotia Foundation, all monies collected go directly to villagers and their needs – there is no administrative overhead.
To donate, go to:
Our Travel Apothecary
As I begin the packing process, I've had to narrow down what I take to include the must-haves that will offer help to the women in Nepal and will be useful to all of us trekking. Here is a list of remedies and formulas for travel, that are especially useful when there are many 'unknowns' such as diet, altitude, drinking water, and vastly different climate conditions. To be able to offer some comfort and share with the locals the value of 'a healing tradition among women' will be an honor and privilege.