With CÎME, we create organic and fair-trade skincare products based on superfoods from the Himalayas. This November, we travelled to Nepal with our friend and photographer Nena from Studio Nunu to visit our projects. In 4 blog posts, we tell you all about our trip.
Part 4: Why we have fallen in love with Nepal and its population
We already did, but our trip to Nepal made us love Nepal and its population even more. These are the reasons:
Nepal has an amazing beautiful nature. Although its size is not very big, it has a big altitude difference in kilometres resulting in having multiple climate zones all together. Which makes the landscape beautiful and amazingly divers. Nepal is referred to as the rooftop of the world. Since 8 out of the 10 highest mountain peaks of the world can be found over there. With the Mount Everest that borders at Tibet as the most famous one. But surprisingly enough lower wetlands and the valleys have a totally different scenery with wild tigers and rhinos.
As big as their richness in nature, so is their culture and tradition. Religion and spirituality decide the rhythm of the daily lives. There are smaller and bigger temples where people pray, bring offers and spend their time and discuss politics. You can see holy walking around with garlands of flowers. We had gotten a ‘butter blessing’ with yak butter in our hair to enhance our fertility and also received a fortune telling by a hand reader.
What makes Nepal so remarkable is the way different religions live together peacefully. Nepal is officially a Hindu country. But it has a mixture of religions, the most common ones are Hinduism, Buddhism and the Islam. Traditionally Nepalese are very tolerant in consideration to this variegated mixture. In the morning you are waken up to the chanting prayers of temples and mosques mixed up altogether and veiled Muslim girls are best friends with Buddhist classmates.
The same tolerance that is found in relations to other religions can also be found in many different aspects. LGBT rights in Nepal are the most progressive in Asia. Homosexuality has been officially legalised in 2007 and in official documents you have the choice between between the boxes ‘male’ and ‘female’ and ‘other’. Nobody looks weird if someone is breastfeeding in public. Big public spaces such as the airport have secluded areas especially provided for breastfeeding.
The last decennia a lot has changed in terms of women rights in Nepal. The right for an equal salary between men and women is officially established, women are taking up high political functions, girls in most regions go to school and there is a rise in female entrepreneurs. And in general, there is a lot of respect towards women. That is what we noticed when we stayed with locals at the mountains. It was the father that changed the diapers of a baby, who cooked for us and we saw a lot of grandfathers playing with their grandchildren. Still there are a lot of inequalities between men and women in Nepal. That is why we find it so important to work with female entrepreneurs and initiatives that support women empowerment. Such as the Nepalese sisters Tara and Shanta, who mostly employ women in their green tea plantations. Besides the fair salary they also provide scholarships for the children of their employees, housing for anyone that lives too far from the plantations and a cow for every employee.
Despite all of this, Nepal is still officially an underdeveloped country. It won’t be easy to reverse the situation. We are aware that our projects can only make the slightest difference, but we are glad to make this small change. It warms our heart to meet the people that for the past couple years, we were able to make a positive change in their lives. We only could have made this change happen due to the support of our customers in Belgium. Thanks to their support we are able to contribute to the education of the Little Doctors in Humla and to an independent income for the farmers whom harvest, pluck and cultivate our Himalayan superfoods. We want to thank everyone for the past several years who believed in us and supported us throughout our adventure. Convinced for the years to come, we believe that we can make a difference for many people in Nepal.
Anke and Isabel
Pictures and video’s by Studio Nunu.
Did you enjoy reading this blog post? Check out our other blog posts about our Nepal trip:
- Part 1 here: From laywers to the Himalayas | about our carreer move and the role of Nepal in this story
- Part 2 here: About washing your hair with soap nuts | how we want to contribute to women empowerment in Nepal
- Part 3 here: How children become little doctors | How we want to contribute to the education of children in the north of Nepal