Nepal was life chang­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By NI­COLA STE­WART

It was al­most a mis­ad­ven­ture but An­gela Hamp­ton’s re­cent trip to Nepal proved some things aren’t meant to go to plan.

The 26-year-old flew to Kath­mandu on April 26, where she had planned to join an In­trepid tour group to Ever­est Base Camp.

Trou­ble was, she was the only one.

So it was af­ter a last minute switch to G Ad­ven­tures that she found her­self fly­ing into Lukla – one of the most danger­ous air­ports in the world and the gate­way to Mt Ever­est.

The for­mer Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dent set off on the eight-day trek to the base camp with a group of 15 tourists, plus guides.

Thrillseek­ers from Aus­tralia, Canada, United King­dom, Rus­sia, Swe­den and Den­mark made up the group.

The trek was harder than An­gela ever imag­ined, with six to nine hours of walk­ing a day, and the con­stant risk of al­ti­tude sick­ness.

‘‘You can’t blow your nose, you can only eat soup and be­cause of the oxy­gen lev­els you can’t go into deep sleep, so you have what they call moun­tain dreams.

‘‘The fa­tigue that you feel is just like noth­ing else . . . it’s crazy.’’

The group stayed at tea­houses along the way and looked for­ward to the warmth of fires fu­elled by yak drop­pings.

On a rest day, An­gela went to see a lo­cal school and hos­pi­tal that were es­tab­lished by Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary.

‘‘What he has done for the area is just in­cred­i­ble,’’ she said.

On May 6, she made it to Ever­est Base Camp, more than halfway to the sum­mit of Mt Ever­est, at 5346 me­tres.

‘‘You get there and you’re just ex­hausted,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s so hard to de­scribe ... I have wanted to do it my whole life so it was a bit sur­real.

‘‘First of all, the scenery – ev­ery­thing is just right there, all your senses are go­ing crazy.

‘‘The whole thing was in­spir­ing.

‘‘ My next goal is to climb a Hi­malayan Peak, al­though I’m quite con­tent not to tick any­thing off the bucket list for awhile.’’


Fol­low­ing a four-day trek back to Lukla, the group flew back to Kath­mandu, where they parted ways.

An­gela had opted to spend a month at an or­phan­age through lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion Hope and Home but for the sec­ond time her plans went awry.

The or­phan­age she was go­ing to had four vol­un­teers and just seven kids and she was de­ter­mined to help where she was most needed.

‘‘Can you teach?’’

The ques­tion from the vol­un­teer co- or­di­na­tor wasn’t what she ex­pected but she was quick to re­ply. ‘‘Prob­a­bly.’’ The next morn­ing she was on a bus to Chit­wan prov­ince and two days later was teach­ing at An­na­purna Higher Sec­ondary School.

‘‘I ar­rived there on a Sun­day – they have school six days a week – and the vice prin­ci­pal in­tro­duced me to a class of 62 chil­dren, they sang me the national an­them and he left.’’

It was cer­tainly a case of learn­ing on the job but she was sur­prised how quickly she picked it up.

‘‘Teach­ing five year olds who didn’t speak English maths was quite hard,’’ she said.

‘‘I knew a lit­tle bit of Nepalese but I had to come up with other ways to com­mu­ni­cate with them.’’

Near the end of her 31⁄ weeks at the school she re­alised how far she had come.

‘‘I had 60 kids lis­ten­ing to me – hav­ing 60 kids lis­ten­ing with­out mak­ing a noise was amaz­ing.’’

Since re­turn­ing to New Zealand she has ap­plied to study pri­mary teach­ing at Waikato Univer­sity.

‘‘I’m go­ing to go back when I’m qual­i­fied and try and do a lot more with the teach­ers.

‘‘ The vice prin­ci­pal Batuk is amaz­ing. He is re­ally try­ing to help his whole com­mu­nity.’’

While teach­ing at the school, she stayed with the lo­cal vol­un­teer co-or­di­na­tor and ate the tra­di­tional dish of dal bhat (rice, cur­ried veg­eta­bles and lentil soup) twice a day.

A week be­fore fly­ing back to New Zealand, she de­cided to spend seven days at an or­phan­age at Pokhara.

The AAN Chil­dren’s Home cares for 19 chil­dren, aged four to 15, many of whom were res­cued by Child Wel­fare.

Most of the chil­dren are spon­sored to at­tend pri­vate schools and aim to be­come doc­tors, nurses or so­cial work­ers.

As one of four vol­un­teers, An­gela helped them to pre­pare for school and com­plete their home­work in the evenings.

‘‘ Seven days wasn’t long enough, it was in­cred­i­ble how hard it was to say good­bye.’’

New heights: Mata­mata’s An­gela Hamp­ton af­ter reach­ing Ever­est Base Camp, more than 5000 me­tres above sea level.

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