Postcards that make a difference!

Where were you two years ago?

Two years ago I was preparing for an amazing trek to Base Camp Mount Everest. As part of the groundwork, we visited schools, friends and family where we issued post cards to be penned to bring with us to Nepal (a special idea crafted by my wife Barbra and executed by the entire family).

But my first reaction was not so special: post cards? what? We’re heading to Nepal and you want post cards filled out? However, with most things, she was right and we implemented the post card campaign.

I’m getting ahead of myself; so let me start from the beginning when I met the Sir Edmund Hillary foundation organizers. Their dream, as envisioned by Sir Edmund Hillary, was to build schools and medical clinics in the Himalaya Mountains. Where I come in: two years ago I was at a charity event for the foundation where I became the successful bidder on a trip for two to Base camp Mount Everest. Upon that acquisition, I was consumed with two overwhelming thoughts: preparation for the trip and how could I further help. And despite the trip being a result of a charitable contribution, I knew my son TJ and I could aid in other ways as we prepared to make the journey.

Okay – this is where I should tell you a story of the Sherpas of Nepal, complete with an abbreviated geography lesson.

The Sherpas are incredible people who populate the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. The current number of Sherpas in Nepal is approximately 35,000. The Sherpa community became internationally recognized when a team hired them to help with the exhibition to summit Mount Everest. I experienced the warmth of the Sherpas, whose Buddhist religion dictates the need to care for other living creatures (a lesson we can all apply to our daily lives.)

Quick Facts about Nepal:

  • population is around 31 million people (almost the population of Canada in the geographic area of 149k sq. km – close to the size of the Yukon or the state of Florida.)
  • has the world’s highest mountain chain, the Himalayas, covering a total area of 612,021 sq. km and passes through five countries: Nepal, Indian, China (Tibet), Bhutan and Pakistan.
  • the worlds population is around 7 billion and in this general area there are approximately 2.2 billion! (So there’s lots happening in this area!)

The post cards became a mechanism to raise some money, awareness but also forge a connection from one side of the world to the other. The idea was that children from all across the country would sign them and we would take to the children of Nepal. Along with sharing a message from one child to another, we also delivered money raised from the cards, which was a donation of two dollars to fill out. Through this effort we raised $5000.00! (about the salary of a teacher.) Do you know how heavy those post cards were? Almost 7lbs! We were excited to take them to the Sir Edmond Hillary School in Khumjung and at the 50th anniversary celebration I was given the opportunity to present at the celebration and read a couple of the cards. It was a tremendous honor and grounding experience that I will never forget.

We met many great people, enjoyed an unbelievable part of the world and experienced an awakening journey. And today I as I reflect on the preparation of that trip, the efforts to raise a few dollars and the benefit it was to all, I can’t help but wonder how the simple gestures are the ones that can make a difference. Far to often we get caught up in the notion of “the size or magnitude of a gesture of humanity.” You don’t have to travel around the world to make a meaningful contribution. Buy a homeless person coffee or lunch, volunteer at a shelter or donate clothes that fill up your oversized closet. Here are some profound words to consider as we go about our daily lives: “we work long hard hours, and to buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like”.

Big things come from small steps; don’t wait any longer. Take your first step today!

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens


FYI: an elementary class from Dauphin, MB is hoping to receive post cards from across the country to fill a map with pins from every spot they get a card from.

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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