Taking on the Himalayas for charity
While looking for work can be a stressful time for many, Kristina Juul sees the gap in her résumé as lucky. The break has given her space to trek through Nepal and Bhutan.
She’s doing it for Adara, a non-profit organisation that helps people living in severe poverty in remote countries. It was founded here 20 years ago by then resident, Audette Exel.
“I am very inspired by her background and the journey she has taken in her career, finding a way to leverage her expertise and combine it with her passion for social justice,” said Ms Juul.
The 32-year-old is part of a team of eight that will trek through the Himalayas, visiting Humla, Kathmandu and Ghyangfedi, a community devastated by the April 2015 earthquake.
Each member has to raise $10,000 for next month’s trip. Ms Juul has so far reached $1,230. The cash will be used to support Adara’s ground plans such as mobile medical camps, school improvement and teacher support.
“I’d always wanted to go to Nepal,” said Ms Juul, who learnt about the trek from Adara manager Pamela Barit Nolan. “I love trekking and I love a good challenge. I thought, why wouldn’t I do this with a great charity where I can actually make a little bit of a difference in the world while also exploring a part of the world that I’ve always wanted to see.”
She left her job as an energy broker in London, England this year. Her current work as a consultant allows her the time to give back.
“[My sister and I were] given every opportunity in life,” she said. “It wasn’t a question growing up that we would be going to good schools and getting a university education, whereas 82,000 children in Nepal don’t even attend primary school. And 30 per cent of young children are malnourished or don’t have enough food in their bellies. Having been lucky enough to be born into a good family in a safe part of the world, it’s something we take for granted — which we shouldn’t.”
The poverty has had a terrible impact on the Nepalese community, with human traffickers luring countless people away from their families on the promise of a better life.
“[Adara’s] focus is on women, children and their communities,” Ms Juul said. “There are over 12,000 women and children trafficked in Nepal every year.
“Adara recently rescued 136 children and put them through a rehabilitation programme and reconnected them with their families.
“It’s reading stats like that that really speak to me. Women and young girls are given almost no opportunity. The young girls get fed last and they’re the first to be pulled out of school and put to work. The boys get the most opportunity. That’s something that Adara’s trying to change.”
Ms Juul earned a degree in environmental science at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. She fell in love with hiking while working in Calgary.
“Living within an hour’s drive from the rocky mountains was amazing,” she said. “I’ve been lucky enough to trek in several parts of the world — my most recent was through Patagonia. It was absolutely stunning and we covered a lot of ground. I’ve always loved the outdoors and have always loved doing trips like that which challenge you physically and mentally.
“You’re dealing with really, really high altitudes so incredibly thin air. In that case you’re moving so slowly, you’re focusing on putting one foot in front of the other to get to the top.”
She’s excited to experience that again, next month.
“We’ll get to see first-hand, the work of Adara but part of this challenge is actually doing a trek. [It is] up to 3,200 metres, so it’s not massively high altitude but high enough that the air is thin and it gets more difficult to breathe and to walk,” Ms Juul said. “That difficulty is nothing compared to what the other communities in Nepal are going through on a daily basis.”
• For more information visit adarapoonhilltrek.raisely.com/kristinajuul or www.adaragroup.org</i>
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