The person who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
This sentiment rings true to how 2 Pairs Project started. What began as a solo adventure to Nepal, with the intent to conquer Everest base camp, veered in a direction I would have never expected.
I requested leave a week prior to arranging my trip to Nepal in April 2015. A spontaneous trip. When I arrived in Kathmandu its muddled traffic, marigold draped entrances, traditional buildings coexisting with new - every corner had a story to tell.
It was here I met my friend Om. He worked in tourism and organised my hike and transport. The day I commenced my hike, a national protest broke out. Om swiftly managed to arrange a taxi to pick me up in the early hours of the morning to avoid the road closures. I arrived safely and experienced a truly majestic and peaceful hike. This was the first time I saw snow top mountains, drank ginger and honey tea with locals and warmed up in brightly coloured tea houses next to clay ovens.
Shortly after arriving home the earthquake struck. When scrolling through my Facebook feed, this is what I saw.
These were the pathways I walked to get in and out of my hostel, where Om was working and arranging hikes and other adventure seeking trips for tourists. From the day the earthquakes struck, Om and his friends were doing whatever they could to help out. Initially, he worked with a small group of volunteers, clearing the pathways and roads to make it easier for people to walk. They saw the floods of people that no longer had homes and started to arrange tents.
The following weeks, these were the posts on Facebook that I would see. I wanted to do something to help, so I started a gofundme campaign, reaching out to family and friends to donate. I guaranteed the funds would go directly to the people who needed it the most and would provide updates on how the funds are making a difference.
Small donations were made, I needed more to support Om's efforts. So I made jars for cafes to collect tips. I arranged for a few cafes within the Sydney CBD area to collect ‘tips for tents’. These small jars raised over $2000 and so did the crowdfunding campaign.
It was these jars that helped more than 450 people, stretching across three districts in Nepal; Nuwakot, Gorkha, and Dhading.
At this point in time Om was focused on rebuilding houses and schools. When I would speak with Om he would say, “we are only doing small things, the things we know how to do, but what we are doing is going directly to the people that need it the most and helping anyway we know how.”
I wanted to show my family and friends how their donations were making a huge impact. My partner, Jack and I went to Nepal. It was through meeting and talking to the people the funds helped, we knew we needed to create a sustainable way to continue to fund the rebuilding efforts.
Om has always said, “what we do is making really small changes. It’s about the little things we do collectively that will have a big difference for the long term.”
As I said, I never expected to be here. It was the people that I met along the way and my belief in their approach to making a real and direct impact for the Nepali people.
I believe we all have the ability to create change in every shape that’s meaningful to our lives. I’m not a big influencer, that has a large network. I’m Emma, the girl that love coffee every morning (or move out of my way!) and asked for small donations and tips. And it’s the Om’s of the world that understand how to connect and create real change for the people that need it the most.
Everything begins with carrying away small stones, or removing bricks that are blocking a pathway to the road ahead - start small.