Help me out here.

FlagMountainIn 4 months time I’ll be turning sixty, exactly 6 weeks today I’ll be setting off to celebrate by trekking to Everest Base Camp for the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Maybe I’m mad, maybe it’ll be a disaster, maybe I’ll wish I hadn’t done it, maybe … maybe … maybe ….

Maybe I’m going to have one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Actually, yes, I am going to have one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

It’s going to be hard, there are going to be days when I question why I’m doing it and there will be times when I will just want to stop. I know that. But there will also be many more moments when I savour my surroundings, when I take a breath and appreciate life and when I realize that, with the right attitude, we can succeed in whatever we choose to do.

And there’s the thing – I’m choosing to subject myself to this extreme holiday, choice though is something that many people don’t have.

Many girls in the world do not have the choice over the basics, whether they complete their education, whether they marry or not or who they marry. Over 10 million girls under 18 years old are forced into marriage each year, many with men much older than themselves.

The education of these girls is of paramount importance. With education comes understanding and with understanding comes power. The power to create change.

Change doesn’t come easily though, it’s usually won after a hard fought battle. So, while I’m fighting my own battle and pushing my physical and mental endurance to its fullest I’ll also be supporting the education of girls worldwide through the ‘Because I’m a Girl’ campaign.

Because I am a GirlI’d love it if you could get behind me by donating to this worthy cause and spurring me on as I train, quite vigorously I might add, for the greatest challenge of my life.

See that ‘Donate’ button up the top there? Go on  – click on it, you know you want to. There’s not long to go.

 

What Did Today Mean To You?

Today marks exactly 3 months out from my departure for Kathmandu and the start of my Everest Base Camp adventure.

Today I began my course of injections to make sure that my body doesn’t fall victim to any of those little bugs that attempt to infest our insides when we move away from our own little corner of the world.

Today my arm hurt.

Today another girl child in Nepal married because that’s what was expected of her.

Today her life was changed – for the worse.

Sabita and her son

Sabita and her son

Sabita, aged 16, has an eight-month-old baby boy. She was married in 2010, when she was 14.

Sabita said, “When I was 14, my family started talking about my marriage which I couldn’t deny as this is the tradition in our village, it was a kind of pressure.

“We are poor. My mother and my brother used to work as labourers. I had to drop out from school when I was in grade two. During my first pregnancy, I wasn’t feeling well. I vomited and couldn’t eat anything except milk. Now, my baby boy isn’t very healthy. I realise my life has been negatively changed after getting married at early age.”

As a grandmother I am enormously grateful that my grandaughters will have the choice to be who they choose to be and will not be forced into a life that will inhibit their creativity and stifle their drive and their determination to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life.

The fact that I have the ability and the freedom to visit a country where girls as young as twelve are forced into marriage and motherhood well before they are ready startles me at times. The lives that we lead are so far removed from those who live only a plane ride away.

Help me to help these girls by donating to the Because I’m a Girl Campaign as I trek to Everest Base Camp in May. Make my efforts worthwhile. Please.

Just visit my donate page at Plan International and pledge your support – you’ll be helping these girls to help themselves.

It takes more than one man to climb a mountain.

eric-shipton

Deciding to undertake the 60th anniversary trek to Everest Base Camp in May has opened up a whole new world to me. Not only had I never taken been remotely interested in Nepal in general or Kathmandu in particular before the planning began but I had also didn’t know anything about mountaineering or mountaineers or even the Himalayas. I didn’t even know that Mt Everest has one foot in Nepal and the other in Tibet.

In the last few months though I’ve found myself devouring anything I come across that mentions Kathmandu, Everest, mountains, training, trekking etc and I’ve come across some fascinating stuff, particularly about the pioneers of mountaineering in this region.

Does the name Eric Shipton mean anything to anyone? No? What about Sir Edmund Hillary? Now that’s familiar isn’t it? Even John Hunt is fairly well known as the leader of that 1953 expedition that saw Hillary and Tenzing stand on top of the world.

So who was Eric Shipton and what did he have to do with Everest? Quite a lot actually, as I’ve recently discovered.

The sports houses at Grange Lane Junior School in Scunthorpe, where I attended up to the age of eleven, were named Everest, Sherpa, Tenzing and Shipton, the first three were obvious associations but I had no idea why the fourth would be called Shipton.

So I did as all good writers do – I turned to research. This took me on quite an interesting journey, through newspaper archives, autobiographies and travel memoirs. I did get slightly sidetracked with all of the interesting accounts of the mountaineering in the Nepal region but ultimately I discovered some interesting facts about Eric Shipton.

Shipton was in fact a distinguished British Himalayan mountaineer, heavily involved in many expeditions from the 1930s through to the 1950s. He was the leader of the 1935 expedition that gave nineteen year old Tenzing Norgay his start as an Everest Sherpa and he was the one who made the decision, in 1951, to accept two New Zealand mountaineers onto his team that undertook the reconnaissance expedition to Everest, chalking out the now famous route over the Khumbu Glacier. Edmund Hillary was one of those New Zealanders, the rest, as they say, is history.

khumbu-glacier-300x200

Initially Eric Shipton accepted leadership of the 1953 expedition but was then controversially replaced with John Hunt on the grounds of Hunt’s organisational skills.

Eric Shipton it seems was a popular mountaineer. In his memoir View From the Summit Sir Edmund Hillary maintains his affection for Shipton and voices his belief that they would still have been successful under Shipton’s leadership.

Mountaineering enthusiasts will know of him but unfortunately Eric Shipton’s name did not go down in the annals of history or the continuing public consciousness as did that of Edmund Hillary and the leader of that 1953 expedition, John Hunt.

I think I might be remembering him though as I climb those slopes and get my first view of the Khumbu Glacier and he was also known to have taken photos of what may have been a Yeti footprint, so I’ll be on the lookout, just in case.

Shipton's Yeti footprint, with an iceaxe showing the scale

Shipton’s Yeti footprint, with an iceaxe showing the scale

Don’t forget that you can encourage me in my efforts (to reach Base Camp that is, not to find a Yeti) by donating to the Because I’m a Girl Campaign. All you need to do is go to the Donate page at the top there and follow the prompts – easy really and you’ll be helping a really worthwhile cause.

There are some Amazing people out there!

When I initially set up my fundraising page with PLAN I had to set a target. I was worried when I set it that I wouldn’t be able to reach it, but there are some AMAZING people out there and, through your generosity, we’ve already hit the $1,000 mark.  Wow!

Some of these people are friends, others I’ve come to know through the blogging world but there are some who I’ve no idea who they are. To all of you wonderful people goes a huge thank you.

By supporting me on my trek to Everest Base Camp next May to celebrate my 60th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, your donations are helping out with the Because I’m a Girl campaign.

Girls washing their hands in clean water in Vietnam.

This campaign aims in particular to promote the education of girls by fostering an awareness in their communities of the advantages of extending the time a girl spends in school.

One in three girls around the world is denied an education with less than half the girls in the developing countries completing primary school. One in seven girls in developing countries is married by the age of fifteen, in Indonesia 36% of marriages involve children under the age of sixteen.

With your support girls like 15 year old Lamana are empowered to change their future. Lamana was forced to marry a man twice her age who beat her when she tried to leave the house. Despite the disapproval of her community, Lamana fought  to leave her violent husband. With Plan’s help and her family’s support she has moved back home and returned to school allowing her to regain her confidence.

Girls at a Plan supported school in Sierra Leone

Research shows that just one extra year of schooling can boost girls eventual wages by 10 to 25 per cent. This has a long term ripple effect on the wellbeing of their families and communities.

So, although my fundraising is going well I would urge you all to help me out here and keep up the momentum by donating to this worthy cause. You can hit the donate tab up the top there or head straight to http://fundraise.plan.org.au/travellingbag

Improving the education of girls will act as a positive step towards a more just world.

Challenge for the Girls

FUNDRAISING UPDATE!

Only ten days into the fundraising and already a significant dent has been made in my target. To those who have kickstarted my campaign, a huge thank you.

I think I must be sending out positive vibes into the universe because today, to my great delight, I also received my first corporate donation from Rod at Carbon Footie, a solar panel company here in Perth.

Stay tuned for a sponsor’s page appearing, so if any other companies would like to get in on the act just make a donation of over $250 and I’ll put up a link to your website.

It’s really great to know that people are prepared to back this cause that seeks to empower local communities to enable their children to overcome poverty and achieve their potential through adequate education and training.

Keep the momentum going and if you are able to donate, even just a small amount, hit the donate button above or go to http://fundraise.plan.org.au/travellingbag

Exciting changes!!

There’s been a few changes around here but I’ll try and make the explanation as concise as possible, I know I tend to get a bit long winded at times.

First, the obvious – there’s a nice new picture up the top there. Just a reminder of where I’m going, I hope you like it.

Everest Base Camp

Second – where am I going? Well, a slight change of plan there. As many of you already know next year, 2013, will see the celebrations for my 60th birthday and also the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. To commemorate these two momentous occasions I made the decision to undertake the 60th anniversary trek to Nepal, run by World Expeditions.

I’ve been rethinking things lately and I’ve made a slight adjustment to my plans. I’ve decided to go further! Originally I was doing the short trek, going as far as Thyangboche Monastery but I’ve now decided to extend it and head for Base Camp. I figure, in for a penny in for a pound. My training is going better than expected (thanks in no small part to a pushy training partner) and, after discussing it with a few people who have done Base Camp, I’m beginning to think I’ll regret it if I don’t do it. I don’t want to get as far as Thyangboche and then decide I should have gone further. More later on my updated itinerary.

And the final change – as I’m now committing myself to pushing my physical and mental endurance to its fullest extent I’ve decided to do it for a good cause. I’m hoping to raise a few dollars (or pounds, or euros or whatever currency you work in) and would really appreciate your support.

The charity that I’ve chosen to support is Plan, one of the oldest and largest children’s development organisations in the world who work in developing countries to empower communities to overcome poverty, and to protect and promote child rights. More specifically I will be donating any money raised to the Because I am a Girl campaign.

With society placing a lower priority on educating girls than on educating boys, one in three girls in the world are denied the education that we take for granted, less than half of girls in developing countries complete primary school.

Girls are more often expected to stay home and help with domestic work and, with financial concerns an issue in poorer communities, it is the boys who take priority when it comes to education.

Over 10 million girls under 18 years old are forced into marriage each year with 1 in 7 married before they are 15, putting an end to any possibility of completing their education.

I have two daughters and two granddaughters who, with myself and all the other girls in my family, have been lucky enough to live in a western country where, generally speaking, girls are not disadvantaged simply because of their gender.

We can afford to live in relative comfort, not only do we have enough to eat but we also have the luxury of occasionally being able to eat out at restaurants and we regularly throw out left over food. We can afford to live in houses or apartments with a washing machine, a dishwasher and a flat screen T.V. We have gadgets and swimming pools and we travel.

We are well educated and encouraged by friends and family to succeed in whatever we choose to do.

And we do have a choice. So many girls in the world don’t.

Your support for this cause would really be appreciated and you can do so by checking out the donate button on my blog header or go straight to

http://fundraise.plan.org.au/travellingbag

Every little bit helps and it will spur me on my way as I train – quite vigorously I might add – for one of the biggest challenges in my life 🙂

Note: Base Camp photo courtesy of National Geographic.