Guide Efrain heads to London

We’re pretty proud of our Meet the People guiding team, who do an amazing job looking after all of our customers across the world. With such a variety of guiding characters in our range, we’re never short of fascinating tales about their adventurous lives! Product Manager Lizzie caught up with our Peruvian guide Efrain, who recently decided to swap the high altitude peaks of Peru for the chance to compete in the London Marathon…

Efrain at Machu Picchu

I first heard about Efrain back in 2007 when we were setting up our tours to Peru. I had asked our partners in Peru to send us some information about our new guide and this was their reply…

 “His knowledge and love of all things Peruvian,  his great sense of humour, his unflappable nature and his ability to deal with the vagaries of travel in the Andes makes him a popular leader highly in demand and his leadership experience will make this trip an truly unforgettable Peruvian adventure. His ambition one day is to compete in the London Marathon.”

It’s now 5 years later but we are finally there and Efrain has made it to the UK (his first trip out of South America) to run in the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, which took place on Sunday 22nd April, 2012.

It is not easy securing a place in the London Marathon as there are many more people who want to do it than there are places available. But we had been able to get one for Efrain through Traidcraft’s charity, Traidcraft Exchange. They had very kindly given Efrain one of their much sought after places on the marathon and in return we agreed to raise £3,000 to support their overseas development work. This raises much-needed funds for Traidcraft Exchange, a wonderful charity where we all know that the money will be used to help people in the developing world to improve their lives through trade.

For those of you who have travelled on some of our tours to India, Bangladesh and Kenya you will already have first-hand experience of some of the projects that Traidcraft Exchange are involved in, but you can also find more about the incredible work they do by clicking here to see Traidcraft Exchange’s website.

Having raised the necessary funds needed  – we want to thank everyone for all of their time, support and generous donations – Efrain managed to make his trip to the UK and complete his dream of running in the London Marathon a reality! Completing the run in an impressive 5 hours, 3 minutes and 32 seconds, it’s safe to say we’re incredibly proud here at MTP HQ. Here are a few photos from his journey to the big smoke…

sightseeing in London

Sightseeing in London!

Chicuchas Wasi Presentation

Efrain giving a presentation about his childhood and recent developments at Chicuchas Wasi (www.chicuchaswasi.org)

Joe Freeman low res

Efrain and a Samaritans runner at 25 miles – just 1 mile to go! (Thanks to Joe Freeman for the brilliant photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/joefreeman/6956878164/ )

Efrain ran the London Marathon for Traidcraft Exchange and you can read more about his story on his Just Giving site: www.justgiving.com/Efrain

During his trip to the UK Efrain is also raising money and promoting a local charity in Cusco which is very dear to his heart – Chicuchas Wasi. Donations to Chicuchas Wasi can now be made through UK charity Friends of Chicuchas Wasi using the details as follows:

Cheques can be made to “Friends of Chicuchas Wasi” and sent to:
Michael Tunnicliffe
5 St George’s Way
Kingsmead
Northwich
CW9 8XG

Or by BACs payment sent to
The Co-operative Bank
Sort Code 08-92-99
Account number: 65469806
Please send an email to Michael at mtunni@sky.com to let him know a payment has been made.

The charity is registered for Gift Aid so please indicate if your donation is eligible for this to Michael, either in your email or in a note along with a cheque.

Interested in fundraising for Traidcraft?

If you have been inspired by Efrain’s marathon run for Traidcraft Exchange then join the Traidcraft Team in one of their challenge events.

Visit www.traidcraft.co.uk/challenge-events for more info or call 0191 4976445

Guardian Green List 2011

Traidcraft’s Meet the People Tours are one of the UK’s top sustainable travel initiatives.

That’s according to this year’s Green Travel List from The Guardian. The list is an annual roll-call of green, eco-friendly and sustainable travel companies, including tour operators, and accommodation and transport providers.

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Organisations are nominated by the public and then a panel of eco-experts choose the most innovative – Meet the People was chosen as one of the top sustainable holidays.

Here’s what the Guardian had to say about us:

Witness spectacular sunsets over the Himalayas, then explore the ancient city of Kathmandu, take an elephant safari in Chitwan national park then chill out in the lakeside city of Pokhara. This is just one of the whistle-stop itineraries on Traidcraft’s novel sightseeing trips to developing countries. Other destinations include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cuba, Peru and Vietnam. While exploring the country, you stay with the small-scale farmers who make fairtrade products.

Click here to read the Guardian’s article in full.

Click here for more details about how you can get involved in our worldwide tours.

GreenList2011

Navigating Nepal…

Meet the People traveller Judy Dixey headed to Nepal to discover the rich treasures and fascinating local culture that await those who venture here…

Many people dream of going to Nepal – some were dreaming when they were actually there, on the hippie trail in the ‘60s; some dream about trekking in the magnificent Himalayas or even taking a flight over Everest; some dream of finding themselves, or their god – Buddha was born in this kingdom at the top of world.

I was privileged to try out a very different kind of Nepal on a trip organised by Saddle Skedaddle on behalf of Traidcraft. Traidcraft is an essentially Christian organisation whose mission is to reduce poverty through trade. It is active in various developing countries throughout the world, empowering people to take control of their lives through working to produce goods which can be traded in the West – whether it’s food, crafts, clothes or homeware. All are produced under at least as good conditions as those demanded under Fair Trade regulations.

Our visit was entitled ‘Meet the People’ who are involved with Fair Trade and Traidcraft; and so we did. We met an inspirational man who’s at the forefront of an organisation – Get Paper Industries – which has drawn disadvantaged women into employment, making hand-made paper, or felt objects. We visited as they were working on a line of paper containers for The Body Shop; so when you next buy items from there, do take note of the little boxes they are packed in – they will probably come from Nepal. He also had the heart and wisdom to see that girls’ education is essential (currently 34% of girls in Nepal do NOT go to school) and to devise schemes to ‘trick’ that caste-based society to ‘Send your daughter to school’. The scheme is to pay 100 rupees (approx 75p) a week to the lower-caste families when their daughter goes to school; this encourages other higher caste families to feel they might be missing out. The notion of ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ works in Nepal too, so they send their daughters as well.

The company is also active in AIDS awareness, and it is also environmentally aware, so any machinery used is powered by solar energy.

Women at GWP

There is a major issue of young women being trafficked to India for the sex trade; GPI has initiated self-governing networks of girls to confront this issue – over 100 groups now exist of 15 girls, who can guard against the traffickers’ empty temptations of a better life elsewhere, through mutual support and information. They are also provided with the means of earning income and preventing their fathers or brothers from selling them to traffickers – they might be given a goat, which will have kids, and more kids; the goat is a speciality meat at festivals, so is highly valued. We met one such group in the back of beyond, up the most appalling track, which was only passable by jeep or on foot. The girls were meeting together, minuting their discussions and decisions and earning respect from the villagers round about.

GPI Anita Milan School

Our next visit in Pokhara was to the Women’s Skills Development Project, founded by Ram Kali Khadka in 1975. Over 11,000 women have benefitted from her energy and actions and the two shops on the Lake Side Road are packed with imaginative craft work from the 435 current members. They are learning skills such as dyeing, weaving and sewing; some of these are skills we lost 100, 150 or even 200 years ago; but they are useful skills in the context of the country as it is. How could you expect them to be learning IT skills, when there are constant power cuts, and the lighting is barely good enough to read by at night? Of the 435 women working for the Project, some are home workers; 35 are disabled, of whom 11 are blind.

We certainly filled our suitcases with masses of beautifully-made imaginative presents for home and families, very useful as we come up to Christmas.

But the trip wasn’t all serious visits to these projects. There was plenty of time to visit and admire a fraction of the temples and shrines for which Kathmandu has obtained the deserved soubriquet of City of Temples. We also described it as City of Chaos as the traffic is terrifying, there are no traffic lights and policemen in the middle of the road wave and blow whistles to gain some sort of order. Amazingly, we saw no accidents, and drivers squeeze their battered vehicles through tiny spaces, demonstrating significant skill and nerve. Everyone who is not in a battered vehicle is on a motorbike; usually the driver wears the helmet, while the pillion rider takes her life in her hands and doesn’t. Cows, dogs and chickens wander across the road with impunity and somehow survive. The potholes are such that I’ll never complain about those in Britain again!

We also travelled to the Chitwan National Park, where we saw rhino, elephants and deer; at one point a family of wild boar had an argument and charged across our path. We had a highly knowledgeable guide, Kumar, whose wild-life life had begun with 9 years in tiger conservation, and despite no formal education, had accumulated a wealth of knowledge to share.

Nagarkot

And of course, we did get up to see the sunrise. Rosy-fingered dawn did tip the peaks of the Himalayas in front of us, a few minutes before the sun itself actually appeared above the horizon. What an astounding experience.

Our guide, Prajol, had worked with Traidcraft and Skedaddle to ensure we had as rounded a view of Nepal as could be gained in the space of just under two weeks – and many of us have come back with a feeling of sensation- and emotion- overload which will take some time to unpack and process. There is no doubt that there is masses to do there, the infrastructure militates against swift improvement in living conditions, as does the Hindu acceptance of life as it is. But it is better to light a candle than rail against the darkness and that is what I did, in the Mahabuddha, the abode of a thousand Buddhas, in thanks for our visit and as a prayer for peace and enlightenment.

To see more photos visit ICN’s Facebook Page

Many thanks to Judy Dixey for this article and to the Independent Catholic News for allowing us to reproduce it here. To see the original article please click here

If you would like any further information about our tours to Nepal with Traidcraft then please click here. Alternatively, please call Hannah at Skedaddle on 0191 2651110 or email us at info@skedaddle.com.