The Nepalese are some of the most welcoming people that we have come across during our travels. Always amazingly eager to please, they will go out of their way to accommodate travellers and visitors alike. Nepal has hundreds of thousands of tourists travelling every year, drawn to the opportunity to scale its stunning mountain peaks (or at least attempt to, blisters allowing…!), but how many stop to think about the fact that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world? Many travellers are enchanted by the openness of their Sherpa’s and Porters, but how many check that they are getting paid a fair wage or have insurance? Don’t get us wrong, we have all been awed by Nepal, and it’s easy to forget that day-to-day life will continue there long after we have packed up our backpacks and headed back home. But in order for us all to be able to continue to enjoy this beautiful country, we now have to be committed to protecting it. Leeches and all.

Take the Annapurna region for example, a real beauty spot and trekkers’ paradise! Unfortunately, when travellers come to stay they often like their lodges to be warm, their food freshly cooked and hot water for their showers. In their quest to please, local people will often cut down native trees to fuel their fires so visitors can have all their home comforts. The visitors leave and some may return, but the forests are destroyed forever.

Pukka Projects believes a lot can be achieved through the education of local communities into more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods. So at one school we rolled up our sleeves and installed a solar water heater to provide hot water for the residential students. By combining this with lessons about greener living, we hope to reduce the amount of trees cut down for fuel and therefore help protect the future of this amazing place. At another school we got out the shovels and installed a water purification system (including a five hundred litre tank) so that all of the 220 students could have clean water! There is so much left to do, so watch this space for information on our next project…

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