Although most of you who read this initially will already know me personally, I will give a quick intro. My name is Adam Laird and I am a 23-year-old recent college grad from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I write to you from Pokhara, Nepal, 7,500 miles away from the place I grew up, serving as the Director of Golf for the Himalayan Youth Golf Association (HYGA). Through the organization, I, along with my good friend and co- adventure travel enthusiast, Lisa Pfaff work to enrich the lives of impoverished nepali children partially through the game of golf, but more importantly, through a determination to improve young people’s lives. In doing so, our daunting task is to bridge the cultural difference gap between two opposite regions of the globe and prove that with genuine compassion for others, real, large-scale change is possible.
My blogging will be multi-purposeful in nature. For family members and friends, I’ll be sharing photos and short excerpts on the interesting things Lisa and I see and do during our time here in Nepal. My true vision for this page, however; will be much more difficult to convey.
I assume that everyone that will ever read this blog knows that terrible things happen in this world every day. You have all seen pictures or heard accounts of these terrible things; starving children in Africa, gunfire in the Arab Spring, terror groups plotting unspeakable crimes worldwide. What most of us don’t fully understand (including myself) is why such things happen. We hear about these things but we don’t see them firsthand, we don’t realize the scale at which atrocities are happening in the same world we live in. My vision for this blog is to convey my thoughts on such topics, and attempt to show readers the truth, from my perspective, while living in one of the poorest places on earth.
Although young, at 23 I have had the great fortune to visit a small fraction of some of the world’s most beautiful places, and Nepal hovers toward the top of my list for sure. This very morning I sat on the rooftop of my hotel/temporary apartment sipping from a cup of hot mint tea, overlooking the Annapurna Range, one of the world’s highest and most majestic set of mountain peaks. My home-base, Pokhara is a backpacker’s paradise, a low valley set at the foothills of the mighty Himalaya. Tourists flock here to take in the awe-inspiring views (although such views are not as often possible during the present monsoon season). One would think that with such an amazing setting, locals would be living comfortable, prosperous lives feasting off the revenue generated from eager westerners coming in by the busload to witness the beauty first hand. The fact that an average man here makes less money in a year than many middle income Americans make in a week just doesn’t add up.
Sunrise view from the rooftop of our apartment
Nepal is a country littered with extreme hardship and poverty. Inhabitants of the capital city, Kathmandu, live in an environmental disaster. Heaps of reeking garbage line the busiest streets of the city. The water of the Bagmanti, Nepal’s holiest river, is black as tar from the mass pollution that travels through it every day. Its estimated four million citizens breath in a thick layer of smog that covers the entire city every day. And this is the capital city, where millions have flocked for higher paying jobs and the hope of a better life, this is the promise land…. And back to Pokhara, a city labeled for its amazing scenery, is also a city more secretively scared for its horrible injustices against women in the form of forced sex slavery and trafficking. The secluded nature of the place serves as a perfect setting for some of the worst people humanity has to offer, those who profit from young women who are uneducated and misinformed, ending up with the terrible misfortune of being sold from owner to owner as if they were a piece of out of date furniture.
These are the best areas that Nepal has to offer; still it gets much worse, with families living in more remote areas that are literally a bad crop season away from starvation. Children who don’t even know what it means to receive an education, let alone a college degree. People who have absolutely zero chance of ever living a life filled with anything other than hardship that I could not even begin to imagine. And for as impoverished as this country is, there are other nations whose people have it worse, MUCH worse. These are all topics of discussion that will appear in my blog over time. For now, I will be sitting in my fully furnished room wearing a pair of comfortable Reebok mesh shorts and my Led Zeppelin tee-shirt, typing on my widescreen HP laptop…just contemplating how lucky I truly am to be in a place that affords me the opportunity to help tell the story of people who have no means to do so on they’re own. It is my goal to do them the best justice I possibly can by igniting your interest in the topics I discuss, so we all can gain a greater understanding of what we can do to create change wherever possible.
Take care…Stayed tuned…And tell others to read as well. Also, check out my friend Lisa’s travel blog : http://lisapfaff.wordpress.com/