It always amazing to me how easily we connect with others. I woke up to a message in my inbox and a friend request via Facebook from someone in Nepal. After verifying who he was with a mutual contact, I started to chat over messenger and learn about what Shrawan Kumar was doing via business in Nepal.
At first, it seemed that his purpose was simply to build a tourist business to help reclaim lost tourism after the earthquake which struck the country earlier this year in April. The quake took the lives of more than 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000. A sad day for the people of Nepal and devastating for the long term because of the perpetual economic loss through tourism. UNESCO sites were destroyed, and others severely damaged.
After hearing briefly from Nirajan, I wanted to capture more of his story to see what he was doing to reinvest in his community, and how others might also be a part of rebuilding Nepal. Awareness is being made through a movement #NepalNow. The question becomes, “How can more become engaged in supporting existing movements and businesses?” To Nirajan, the answer can be quite exciting… Travel! And use local companies who are making a difference such as Rugged Trails. Find our exchange of questions and answers below…
How did you start Rugged Trails? Why?
I worked with different trekking and travel companies more than 10 years. Everyone has ambitions to be a successful person in different sector but I had only thought about working with companies where I was enjoying.
The last company where I worked I put all my efforts, ideas, and give them a countless time to get clients, and promotion.
But they were not honest in anything, as their commitment was to spend 5-10 percent profit for schools, orphanage but all that was bullshit. Not even paying good money for guides, porters, and even office staff which makes me to start my own company then I can give all what they were not giving to them.
My dream is to help people (helping hands) (to built a school) through this company, it’s just a beginning I am not successful but I will do someday. Most of all company put this to get clients but they are not doing this stuff.
How did the earthquake impact tourism and overall economy in Nepal?
Nepal economy depends on tourism, there are 1000’s of family who are living and having a successful life from tourism.
Nepal get foreign currency from tourist who come and spend in Nepal but now it’s getting problem banks doesn’t have USD and other currency. Governments have to buy the currency from other country which is big loss for Nepal.
Major cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini and especially mountain peoples they are most affected from this earthquake. If there won’t be a tourist they will not get food, no education for children.
There are 100’s of guide who use to feed their family from TIPS, and guiding salary. Even porter if they don’t get tourist to carry their bags they don’t have other thing to earn money.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you face in Nepal? And how do you overcome them?
We Nepalese face the civil war which was one of the terrible situations in my life and for other people who were living in countryside. 10 years of civil way where Maoist use to take (it’s kind of kidnapped) children, young people to fight against the government. I had face this problem from Maoist and government both, Army- Police caught me and inquiry that I am belongs to Maoist. Maoists try to take with them because they need people, they try to kill because they think I am police or army (belongs to government).
These were the bumps of life everyone has own but this was awful and recently the earthquake which me and many people are going through it. Working in tourism means you are responsible for all of your clients, which was the hardest part during the earthquake. As other people I lost my house, family were scared, don’t have place to sleep for them and even for me sleeping outside. Same time families need my help and clients need my help who are here with us. At this situation being away from family is so painful but also is glad that all of my family members are safe. This is the happiest moments too because I help many family, by giving them food, clothes, blankets, shelters, tents and other necessary things. I want to thank to all of my friends around the world who help me and contribute us to help earthquake victims.
What part of your personal story prepared you for what you do today?
The recent earthquake which I had written above, I think that was the biggest turning and feel to be like a “Yeah Man you did it”. No business, no home, which was painful because I started my company a year before and we built our house a year before. House is completely destroyed and business shut down it’s a painful situation but also have hope. Still am helping people and talking with people around to build schools for those kids, who are innocent, they don’t have house, and no proper school.
If you could change one thing around you what would it be?
Main problem of Nepal is Politics which is the biggest problem but in general the biggest problem in homeless people (especially children’s) and hunger which really touch me and want to solve this.
How can other Nepali people and foreigners make this change occur?
Nepali have to change their old mentality, systems and have to be responsible for country, we don’t have to do anything in Nepal just be civilized and make it peace rest god had gifted us everything, amazing mountains, cultures, landscape, and water resource.
Foreigners are doing lots in Nepal but the main is Tourism which goes to the bottom of Nepalese houses, Be a tourist in Nepal, Make your vacation in Nepal. From top * hotels to the local huts they will get direct benefits.
It has been a wonderful experience hearing about Rugged Trails Nepal, and the social benefit they are looking to provide. Find out more about the company here. Also, ask about the secondary school that the company is trying to build through their proceeds.