By Ginny Lunn, Beanstalk CEO 

The picture above is one of my favourites from the recent Beanstalk challenge trek. I’d been delighted to be part of this first ever trek team, made up of Beanstalk volunteers, supporters and staff. We spent nine days in November trekking through the Helambu region of Nepal, to raise money for Beanstalk and a local school in the region.

Although the trek had been many months in planning, due to work being busy since the start of the September school term, I hadn’t been able to give it as much thought as needed.  But as Annie – our Director of Fundraising and team leader – and I settled into our seats, I started to wonder what was in store for us on our first Beanstalk overseas adventure. The team all had one thing in common, we’d never been to Nepal before so we were all unsure what to expect…and I started to wish I had spoken to Amelia (Shaw, our London Area Manager and resident Nepal expert) beforehand!

On arrival, what immediately struck me was the warmth of the people and their spirit of positivity, even though the region had been recently devastated by an earthquake. The villages that we passed through had been badly damaged by the quake, and for communities reliant on the tourist economy this can have severe consequences, yet everyone we met greeted us with warm smiles. Being able to play a part – even in a small way – in helping these communities is the reason why we chose to trek through the region.

As our trek went on I saw the same positive Nepalese spirit in our group who spent the entire time smiling and soaking up the whole experience. I have to say that it was an absolute pleasure to spend time trekking and camping with the rest of the challenge team, who made it such a special experience for Annie and me, and reminded us how lucky we are to work for an organization with the most amazing supporters.

After several days of trekking and camping we finally made it to Nurbuling School high up in the mountains…or hills as our Sherpas were quick to remind us! Our time at the school really was the icing on an already special cake. On arrival we were each greeted with a huge smile and a gift of a white scarf. Sam – the English speaking teacher - was a fantastic host and truly inspiring young man – such a great role model for the children. He had been a boy at the school and had returned many years later to teach. What really struck me about the school was how all the text books were in English, and their lessons covered topics such as how to be part of a community – something which I believe we could learn from.

We spent our evenings around a campfire with the children and their teachers, where we took turns in singing – the children sang some of their favourite songs and we gave them a rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer… sadly I don’t think we’ll be applying to X-Factor in a hurry!

Our time at the school was shorter than we would have liked but we did manage to paint the nursery school and spend time reading, talking and playing games with the children.

I’m sure I speak for the entire trek team when I say that we were all touched by our experience in Nepal and our visit to the school will stay with us for years to come. I must admit to having tears in my eyes as they made speeches to thank us for visiting. I leave you with the following letter we received from one of the children we met at the school, I don’t think I have the words to do justice to how much this means to all of us.