Somewhere in a village in Nepal
in an orphanage dormitory, a child is huddled under blankets late at night reading textbooks for tomorrow’s class. There is no electricity at night and no light. Everyone else is asleep. The child received a CUBE mini light as a gift and uses it as a flashlight. It provides enough light for reading and keeps the child safe in its own private world. The glowing colored light emitted from the CUBE slowly changes into another color, the child’s eyes get heavier and soon the child falls asleep dreaming of flying to the stars.
It has been just over a year since Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April of 2015. With nearly 9000 people killed and a million more homeless not much has changed. The world has forgotten about the earthquake, but Nepal still needs help.
It is mid April, the beginning of a semi warm Spring day and we are chatting with Stefanie Günther. We are sitting on the grass in a park next to the Lake of Zurich. The sky is blue and in the distance one can see the Alps still covered with snow. Stefanie originally wanted to go for a round of stand up paddling but access to the lake was unfortunately blocked off by construction. So we sit and soak up the sun.
We first met Stefanie a while back through mutual friends. We instantly connected and she has been part of the enevu family ever since. Stefanie is all about giving and connecting people. It seems to be second nature to her. Born in the former state of East Germany near Berlin to a relatively conservative family and growing up with her brothers, she has chosen a nomadic lifestyle of her own calling, which has led her to where she is today. It probably all started for her when she went snowboarding for the first time at the age of 19 and fell in love with it. After finishing her studies in hotel management, she went straight to the mountains for an entire season. Season after season followed and she spent most of her time snowboarding and working at the world-renowned Laax mountain resort in Switzerland, eventually becoming an ambassador for the resort and part of the tightly knit snowboarding community up there. In summer she would live and work in Zurich, do yoga and stand up paddling and during the winters she would go back to Laax. She also developed a love for travelling and meeting people. So it seemed all natural that she also became the brand ambassador for Dakine outerwear and Elan snowboards in Switzerland.
Stefanie gets excited when talking about her past trip to Nepal last year. “It was something deep inside telling me that it was time to go to Nepal. You know that I have Nepalese blood in me?” Just like the many things she does, the Nepal trip happened organically. She made up her mind that she wanted to go there and help. It wasn’t supposed to be a glamorous exotic vacation but a trip where she could experience and connect with the people of Nepal on a personal level and help them at the same time. Ahead of time she started her own Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for Nepal because she wanted the donations to get to the people directly instead of getting lost and delayed due to all the red tape, bureaucracy and political chaos. This was linked with the Theo Fritsche Foundation (officially established 9 years ago) which she found and contacted directly, after losing faith in many of the regular and established aid agencies and NGOs.
Theo Fritsche, an extreme mountaineer from Austria, who has been travelling to Nepal for over 20 years, fell in love with the country and its people. He decided to actively start helping Nepal 16 years ago by building schools and housing for children and providing for their education. Amongst supporting the poorest in the most remote areas of Nepal in any way possible, his organisation has also started building new homes for those who need it the most. Through Stefanie’s Indiegogo crowfunding campaign and other direct donations, that were paid into a funding account, she raised 6000 CHF. Using her own funds to pay for travel, she then ventured to the remote parts of Nepal in mid September of 2015 to help in person.
After her 5 month trip to Nepal Stefanie still remains in contact with the people she met and with those she worked with, either via daily phonecalls or Facebook. She helped the Theo Fritsche Foundation build new houses for families and spent quite some time at their schools working and bonding with the students and staff.
“You give a little bit and you always get so much back, at some point. Even if it’s a little. It’s not about doing it for getting something in return, but eventually you will get something in return, in some form or another.”
Connecting, giving and bringing people together is something that she just does naturally. During her trip to Nepal Stefanie brought the enevu CUBE, her little travel companion, along with her. The children of the schools and orphanages she stayed at just loved the CUBE. She called us during her trip and suggested that we should send some over and we gladly obliged and now the children would get their own personal mini lights. They would be given to the children as special presents on their birthdays.
Most of the times electricity is very limited in the remote regions of Nepal. With the CUBEs the children could control their own personal mini light when they wanted to, create their own worlds and have light when there wasn’t any. “It’s just great to see them doing their own thing with the mini lights. You know what I mean? They are just like in their own world with the CUBE.”
Stefanie continues her life according to listening to her heart. She stopped working at a quaint café/bar in Zurich where she used to work part time. She’s going to be a SUP instructor this Summer and spend more time outdoors. The next winter season will be spent in the Alps again, predominately in Laax snowboarding and showing people around the backcountry as a guide.
Though this October Stefanie will be returning to Nepal again. She and the people of Nepal would deeply appreciate all the help and support you can give. For more information and to keep up to date with her Nepal adventure, visit “Nepal – Hand in Hand – Project” on Facebook.
How to help?
Donate directly to Stefanie’s Hand in Hand Project account:
Verein Nepalhilfe Hand in Hand
IBAN: CH18 0839 0033 8358 1000 9
ALTERNATIVE BANK SCHWEIZ
Donations are still urgently needed. All donations are 100% for Nepal and are used in an efficient, transparent, and accountable manner.
You can also help Nepal by visiting the beautiful country and its people as a tourist.
It’s hard to not like Stefanie. She’s hyperactive, sporty and full of energy, extremely good hearted and always willing to give and help and doesn’t expect much in return. She believes in doing and setting a good example. As for now she is still living her nomadic lifestyle, even though at times it’s easier said than done, but it just feels right.
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography
Give and you shall get in return.
All images provided by Stefanie Günther
and the Theo Fritsche Foundation.
Theo Fritsche Foundation
A private aid foundation focusing on helping communities in the most remote areas of Nepal. They help build schools and support education for the poor, provide scholarships and practical training at the technical academy that the foundation founded. Other support areas include reconstruction, providing medical supplies and individual immediate help.
The Aftermath – A Year After One Of Nepal’s Worst Earthquakes Things Are Worse Than Ever (BuzzFeed News).
Stories of survival and hope after Nepal’s earthquake (The Guardian picture essay).
Earthquake survivors left stranded in Nepal as red tape stops aid flowing (The Guardian).
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