We’ve had a few weeks now to reflect on the sudden changes to our world as a result of the coronavirus. In early January we were at the Adventure Travel Show in London and Dublin, people were happily planning their adventures to the Himalayas and we were excited about all that 2020 would hold. In a matter of weeks the world became a very different place as countries around the world started to close their borders. Som was in Nepal with a team from Cairns who were providing outdoor skills training to our team, we were preparing for our busy April/May season. I was in Australia following the news and realising as each day went by that our trekking season would have to be postponed.
Som and I always understood that forces beyond our control could stop our business from operating, Som lived through a civil war in Nepal and we both kept Take on Nepal afloat during the devastation of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. We have always prepared for events that would be beyond our control.
Our immediate response was to maintain regular contact with everyone booked to trek with us during the March-May season; we kept everyone up to date on the changes that were happening on a daily basis. Once it became apparent that travel was no longer an option we worked to re book everyone’s trek for later in the year or in 2021. We also offered the option of a full refund to everyone booked with us, although our terms and conditions don’t require this of us we were able to relate to the financial pressure that people were feeling and did not want to add to anyone’s stress.
Our biggest concern throughout this tumultuous time was not so much our own financial wellbeing, it was for our team in Nepal who do not have a safety net, they rely entirely on their wages from Take on Nepal. Our team were very anxious during this time of great uncertainty. Fortunately Som had a week with the team before returning to Australia, during this time he was able to talk everyone through what was happening and to put in place plans that would ensure everyone was well supported and cared for. We made a commitment to continue paying a salary to many of our team members, and for our trainee team we encouraged them to return to Batase village where they would have all of their needs met. We also have a safe space for our team members to utilise if they need to be in Kathmandu. All of our team members returned to their village and are staying in contact with us on a regular basis, they understand the seriousness of this situation and are often more concerned about all the friends they made around the world than they are about themselves. Our team are also keeping themselves busy by working on humanitarian projects in their community.
On a personal note, both Som and I have worked very hard for many years on Take on Nepal and also with our Fair Trade Shop in Cairns, we have suddenly been forced to stop and take time out. We’re enjoying time with our family and have started working on our website, we’re going to use the coming months in a productive way to make improvements and to come back bigger and better than before.
© Take on Nepal 2020