Do you think you’re giving back just as much – if not more – as you’re receiving?
I met yet another person during my time in Nepal who’s inspired me to make sure that my ’good karma’ balance sheet is tipping in the right direction…
My Everest circuit trek leader, Bir Singh, has done incredible physical challenges including leading the Great Himalayan Trail (a six-month high altitude trek through the Himalayas… now THAT is a challenge!), but the true reason why I find him inspiring is because he decided to do something to make a real difference to the lives of remote Nepalese villagers.
“I’ve been leading wealthy foreigners across this country for many years. Whenever I travelled through remote villages, I used to always feel regret that we were just travelling through without being able to give them any help. So six years ago, I decided it was time to give back,” Bir Singh says.
“Nepal is a trekking and climbing paradise for tourists. But for Nepalese villagers who live in the remote parts, their everyday life is filled with challenges brought upon by the remoteness and harshness of their environment. One of the most confronting issues in these areas is the lack of medical facilities,” he says.
In 2007, using his business acumen, medical background, local knowledge and pure passion, Bir Singh founded Sanjiwani Public Health Mission Nepal, a donation-based medical clinic located in the isolated village of Ghandruk in the Kaski district of the Annapurna region. Prior to establishing the clinic, the only medical service available to the local area was very basic. Any condition requiring serious medical attention demanded that the patient walk seven hours across rugged terrain (we’re talking about the Himalayas here!), followed by a 45-km drive to the nearest hospital in Pokhara. The likelihood of making it at all was probably slim…
Bir Singh has had to put a lot of his own time, effort and money (and no doubt, sweat and tears!) into the clinic, but with great rewards as today the clinic treats more than 4,500 patients every year, making a tremendous impact on this local community. But that was probably not enough for him as he also decided to start sponsoring five poor children to provide them access to schooling.
When I asked Bir Singh what his dream was, he said to be able to help his family and friends… I’d say he’s doing much more than that!