“Wow. This tour has far exceeded my expectations. It offers an immersive experience that combines direct engagement with inspiring social entrepreneurs, authentic Nepali culture and the beautiful natural environment. I have never experienced anything like it. Luna and her team are warm, generous hosts who are passionate social entrepreneurs themselves. Bravo! We will be back” – Andy Hornell
“My heart is full. What a gift it has been to be invited into the lives of these inspirational social entrepreneurs. I feel uplifted after a week of engaging with everyone Luna has introduced us to- from women’s and farmers co-operatives to people committed to providing employment, fair wages and health services to those who would otherwise be without. This is the way to experience a country- spending time with local people who are passionate about their country and making life better for others. I am inspired to go home and make life better in my community. Thank you, Luna, for this very special experience” – Denise Grant
“Hidden Journeys has been an eye opening experience. Not only have we had the opportunity to see the beautiful country and its sights-we’ve connected with inspiring, resilient and passionate social entrepreneurs. They are transforming the future of Nepal-and it’s been so humbling to learn from them. I will bring back many experiences, lessons and new friendships. Thank you CFN for sharing with me Nepal’s most beautiful stories of hope and positive change-through the people” – Stephanie Arrowsmith.
Reading these inspiring quotes makes the entire team blessed and our hearts are filled with immense joy and pride. This enriching experience that our guests have described above is an outcome of 7 months of rigorous hard work and dedication and 7 days of an unforgettable journey. Let us share the reflections on the exclusive 7 day Hidden Journeys.
Hidden Journeys Nepal gives our special guests the chance to meet with and learn from social entrepreneurs and everyone involved gets the opportunity to develop and discuss new ideas and build connections for future projects. Initially it started an online crowdfunding campaign for the first 10-days Social Enterprise Tour in Nepal via https://kriticalmass.com/p/hiddenjourneysnepal which was received with much enthusiasm.
However, the disastrous April 25th’15 earthquake and its aftershocks shook the entire nation and the team of ChangeFusion Nepal was concerned about the guests safety and the tour idea was at the threshold. 5 potential guests who had make inquired about the tour had cancelled as they were fearful of the catastrophic earthquake and the team of Change Fusion sat in for regular rounds of virtual meetings with the Kritical mass representative and our 3 guests who had already pre-booked and pre-paid for the journey. After the earthquake, the ongoing impasse and crisis was indeed a challenge but the guests were encouraging and opined that ‘A country and its citizens can be best known at times at crisis” and they also believed that, “Now is the time to visit Nepal to show our love and support”. They wanted to come here and see for themselves how despite countless struggles, changemakers and social entrepreneurs are still making a difference. And so we were very cautious in planning the journey with revisions to the itinerary constantly to ensure the guests safety and even shortened the 10 day to a 7 day comprehensive journey which kick started on 20th November’15.
The 7 days of Hidden journeys began with the team of Change Fusion Nepal (Luna, Leena and Sajana) receiving them at the airport. Both the groups arrived at the same day 15 minutes apart between 7:45 – 8:00 pm on Friday (20th November’15). Despite the 20 hour flight from Canada the guests were very enthusiastic and we checked out of the airport at 10 pm.
Team members Leena, Luna and Sajana waiting to receive guests at the airport.
The first night stay was planned at Gokarna Resort with great hospitality and comfort after a tiring flight to Kathmandu. Our guests were Andy, Denise and Stephanie were jolly and encouraging who stayed up late at night to talk about the present situation of Nepal. They were assisted and guided by Luna, Leena, Sajana and Jason throughout the journey.
A brief about our guests-
* Andy Hornell has been helping people to use entrepreneurship as a force for positive change and is now the vice chair of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, and founding director of the newly-formed Social Enterprise Network of Nova Scotia.
* Denise Grant is accompanying her husband Andy and she is a former academician. She now is an organic farmer at Canada.
* Stephanie Arrowsmith Stephanie Arrowsmith is the Manager of Global Partnerships at StartSomeGood.com – the global crowdfunding platform for social change.
The first day of travelling started with a hearty breakfast at Gokarna Resort and briefing to the guests about the 7 day- Itinerary. Then we drove our guests directly to Dhulikhel to learn about the ‘Dharti’ initiative; its past activities for relief with current and future plans for long term sustainable goals. Then the guests visited Jason‘s site of The Karmi Initiative which is collaborating with ABARI Bamboo and Earth Initiative to develop an experimental co-learning campus in Kampani, a village near Dhulikhel – just one hour southeast of Kathmandu. Then we stopped by at Fulmaya Didi‘s place at Bhattedadha for lunch. Then went around to old town of Dhulikhel to meet locals and see old houses. After an eventful day, the rest stop was at Himalayan Horizon Hotel and dinner with the Ex mayor of Dhulikhel, Sir Bel Prasad Shrestha. He is the man behind transforming Dhulikhel village and hearing his stories of development made the evening a great learning experience for us all.
Dhulikhel is a popular destination famous for its natural scenery, mountain, sightseeing, temples and stupas. But many guests dont know that it also has one of the best University, which is Kathmandu University and Community led Hospital, which is Dhulikhel Hospital. So the 2nd day of our trip was to find how the community people came together and transformed the place which has hospital, water, solar, electricity and university. Ex Mayor BP Sir took the whole team to dhulikhel and showed hospital, university and first girl’s school established there.
Dhulikhel Hospital is an independent institution which was conceived and supported by the Dhulikhel community, as a quality health services provider since 1996. The Hospital is guided by the principles of social equity, sustainable development and harmony with nature and has already rendered its services to 50 out of 75 districts in Nepal.
Kathmandu University (KU) is an autonomous, not-for-profit, non – government institution dedicated to maintain high standards of academic excellence. Within a period of 21 years, KU has built not only reasonable infrastructure, but also established a track record of academic excellence. The main thrust of KU is to make it a research-cum-teaching university in science, management, engineering, medical sciences, arts, and education.
After the Hospital and University visit, team went to Namo Buddha. Namo Buddha is one of the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site of Nepal. The landscape below resembles an eight-petaled lotus, and the sky above has the form of a wheel with nine spokes. An ancient carved stone reflecting the legend of Namo Buddha is still there which depicts the historical momentous of Buddha who was moved by compassion at the pitiable sight of a tigress and her cubs that he offered his own body as food.
The best part of the tour is not just about the visits and learning from there but also about how in short time, the guests and hosts are bonding with each other, it is just 2 days and they have really become good friends and there is always a long conversation on dinner about their respective countries and how to help each other in the field of social entrepreneurship.
The early morning trip to the Junar District of Nepal from Dhulikhel was a four hour journey across the picture risqué terrain of the eastern part of Nepal. Having travelled 311 Kms, we were overjoyed to see the luscious sight of the fertile hills of Sindhuli welcoming us with the Junar plants everywhere. The guests then met with our social entrepreneur Dipak Prasad Koirala representing the Junar Kendriya Sahakari Sangh where they visited the nearby Junar plantation site, nursery and the Junar processing factory unit. There were varieties of produce from the citrus fruit like jams, marmalade and pickles which explored the possibilities of the cooperatives prospect of scaling up in terms of export. With yet another fruitful day, we proceeded on returning to Dhulikhel on late afternoon and reached our resting stop later at night.
The Junar of Sindhuli is a successful module as it is an amalgam of 40 local cooperatives in one along with the private sector and the government investment. The cooperative has improved the living standards of the farmers and has opened up prospects of extending its market networks and making their Junar a globally consumed quality product. Also, the cooperative is an example of a collective working culture among the farmers and it also shares with them the technical/administrative knowledge and experiences required for maintaining a standard farming practice.
Past 3 days of our journeys has been amazing for our guests and they are already learning the diverse social entrepreneurship approaches along with culture, farming, health, education and Junar plantations. Yesterday was a physically exhilarating day which involved traveling to a place for 4 hours and returning on the same day and so we gave enough time for our guests for resting today and began with Day 4 at 9 am today.
The first stop from Dhulikhel on the way to Kathmandu was our social entrepreneur Sunita Nhemaphuki’s farm at Banepa. Sunita has started an agriculture based magazine – Krishak ra Prabidhi, with the objective of improved information flow between the farmers and the market. Her venture has also initiated Krishi Club, a practical information center and platform for farmers to share and network.
The next stop was the Namuna Ghar at Bhaktapur which is initiated by Rabindra Puri, the first Nepali awarded with the Asia Pacific Cultural Heritage Award. Namuna Ghar or model house at the Bhaktapur Municipality in itself a museum of traditional Newari architecture at modern day extending 259.21 square meters.
After the guests visited the historic Kirtipur city and Sabita Maharjan’s venture Kirtipur Hosiery. Her venture has been empowering over hundred women through their knitting skills. At last, the day came to an end with a stop at a traditional Newari authentic cuisine restaurant to add the flavors of Kirtipur in our guests’ memories of the journey.
At the hidden journeys we take care of even the smallest details, to ensure that guests are happy and content. We are also concerned about their meaningful stay and so the guests are having a lovely time stay at Newa Chén. Newa Chén stands as a living monument of the Malla era – a renaissance period in the history of Nepal and the guests explore and experience newari culture and tradition in its splendid native settings. Due to the time constraints we cannot take our guests to meet every social entrepreneur at their ventures so we invited them for breakfast so that they could get to know each other today.
We started with Jo Hill, a social enterprise expert who runs an organization that works on sustainable waste management in India and is currently working in Nepal to set up a pilot composting / recycling project. Next the guests visited SmartPani, founded by Suman Shakya and Tyler McMahon which develops, installs and maintains environmentally friendly rainwater harvesting systems. The system provides potable or grey water for households to combat the water shortage problems faced in Kathmandu and elsewhere.
Then the guests visited Friend Handicrafts and met Shanti & Nirjala Shrestha who established the venture in 2003 with an initial investment of Rs. 6000. It provides employment opportunities and other benefits to women from lower income households – giving them a livable wage and a safe working environment. At last our guests visited Gaali Gaali founded by Surabhi Pudasaini which crowd-sources and maps information on government services to help citizens register businesses, get driving licenses and access other government services through its online and offline platform ‘Nalibeli’. The aim is to maintain transparency and accountability in Nepal.
Another specialty of the hidden journeys tour is that learning is a two-way process; the guests are learning from our social entrepreneurs and we also learnt about their ideas from the International Conference at King’s College today. The session featured a workshop on digital fundraising/ crowd funding for social impact by Stephanie and a discussion on the global context of social entrepreneurship by Andy with a group of MBS students, aspiring change makers and social entrepreneurs as attendees. We also had our local entrepreneur Sachina’s stall there. Then the last visit was at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, a part of the Nepal Eye Program. After fourteen years, TIO is still determined in its mission to be the hub for ophthalmic services, academia and research. The current focus of TIO is on strengthening its academic unit, opening more rural community eye centers in the hilly and mountainous districts of Nepal and above all sharing the ‘Tilganga’ model of eye care concept to others. The guests then came to our social entrepreneur’s collective ‘A Shop with a Story’ at Baber Mahal Revisited followed by a closing dinner with the remaining team of Change Fusion Nepal, Barsha and Shakar and few other social entrepreneurs from diverse fields. The event was a wonderful medium of ideas exchange and networking.
We hope that our guests had a meaningful stay in Nepal and wish them the very best in future endeavors. Lastly, a special thank you to Catrin Froehlich, Benny Wallington (Kitical. mass) and Jason Shah for their constant love and support in making the first 7 days Hidden Journeys a memorable one. Lastly, a big thank you to you readers for sharing our journey with our daily photos ans stories at the Change Fusion Nepal’s facebook page. We will be back with more exciting projects. Do stray connected.