The Trek Nepal 2023 team consists of 26 Computershare employees from across the United States and Canada who will embark on a trip of a lifetime, strenuously hiking for 7 days through the Annapurna Mountain Ranges in the Himalayas. With an ambitious fundraising target of USD $100,000 they have dedicated extensive amounts of personal time fundraising and training for their trip. With Computershare covering all travel costs, 100% of the money raised will go towards the World Youth International School in Nepal, improving student’s access to education.
Leading the Trek Nepal 2023 team of 25 dedicated Computershare employees for a trip of a lifetime is seasoned trekker and adventurer Jen Blake.
Jen is a registered nurse working for the National Health Service in the UK/Scotland. In between her trekking, marathons, and triathlons, she works in the Cardiac Cath Laboratory alongside the Coronary Care Unit in Ninewells Hospital in NHS Tayside. A true inspiration!
Having been involved in World Youth International’s Global Adventurer’s Program in Nepal during November 2022, and taking part in many adventures throughout Nepal and other amazing parts of the world, Jen is the perfect candidate to support the team in the leadup and throughout the Trek Nepal journey.
Read on to hear all about Jen’s adventures!
What was your involvement with World Youth International before committing to Trek Nepal?
I heard about WYI early in 2022 when I was looking to volunteer as a nurse abroad. When I researched the charity, the family history and inclusive way of running things, team approach and previous stories really appealed to me. They are dedicated to working alongside communities and really engaging with what is important to the people they are working with. After my initial interview with Terry (General Manager), I knew that it would be a great opportunity and just what I was looking for. It also gave me the challenge to raise money prior to departure which motivated me to do 2 challenges which I had been very keen to complete. I cycled the North Coast 500 in 5.5 days, which is a 500 mile road that travels around the north coast of Scotland. I also ran an Ultra Marathon - 80km - in the highlands. I decided to make it a triathlon, so I swam 1km in a Loch. This gave me a great chance to talk to people about the charity and the work they do - both nursing and educational.
When I met Terry and the WYI team in Nepal, I realised I had definitely made the right choice. They were so welcoming, friendly, helpful and passionate about the work they do. I was fortunate to be part of the Change a Life Boarding Centre opening in November which was such a magical day, and great to see first-hand how the school is helping hundreds of children.
I then travelled to Pokhara to volunteer as a nurse in the Western Regional Hospital, including helping to run a few health camps - using some of the money I raised to buy supplies, games for people in an orphanage and care home, and dental supplies for school children. It was a fantastic few weeks - so much so that I went back to the hospital in January to do a further 2.5 weeks. WYI has been fantastic and given me opportunities to discover new skills, meet new people and help to contribute to the communities that have given me so much in Nepal.
How many times have you previously travelled to Nepal?
I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit Nepal twice now. I first travelled to Nepal in 2017, before I was a nurse. I spent time trekking, exploring and volunteering at a homestay in Chitwan (helping in the local school and on the farm). I fell in love with the country; the people, the wildlife, the incredible scenery and of course, the food, and knew that I wanted to go back. In October 2022 I was thrilled to return to Nepal with World Youth International on their Global Adventurers Program, as a registered nurse.
What trekking adventures have you experienced in Nepal?
In 2017, I did the Annapurna Circuit, including Tilicho Lake, and part of the Poon Hill Trek. In 2022/23 I trekked independently in Sagarmatha National Park doing the 3 Passes Trek. This was 175km with 10,808m climbing up to an altitude of 5,500m. I spent about 5/6 days over 5000m - it was very cold! I also fastpacked the Langtang Valley trek (mixture of running and walking carrying as little as possible), and finished my trip to Nepal with the Mardi Himal Trek over my birthday! During each trek I stayed at Teahouses, which is a fantastic way to learn more about the local culture, meet other walkers and chat to the people who live in the area about their experiences.
Why are you so passionate about Nepal?
When I visited Nepal in 2017, I was captivated by the incredible scenery, the pace and way of life, the kindness and genuineness of the people I met and knew when I left that I would definitely return. The Himalayas have a certain magic that made me really want to explore them further. Everyone I met was very friendly and helpful, which made it a great place to travel around. Nepal has so much to offer, from jungle in the south, bustling cities and traditional hilltop villages, to raging white water rivers, peaceful lakes and of course, the incredible mountains. As someone who loves being outdoors, exploring new places and is passionate about nature, it's a very special place.
What is your favourite food while trekking in Nepal?
Has to be Nepal's traditional dish, Dal Bhat. It gives you Dal Bhat power, 24 hours a day!
Any tips you can give on trekking the Annapurna Mountains?
Trekking is challenging but very rewarding. The Himalayas are a different environment from anywhere else, so my main advice would be to take it all in. Take your time, stop and look around, take pictures and (if you're someone who likes to) keep a wee record each day of the things you've seen, funny stories, people you've met etc.. It's amazing how much you can forget. Drink plenty of water, probably more than you usually would - this is important at altitude, and it can be very easy to not drink enough. Sunrises are well worth an early wake up time and be prepared for card games in the evenings. Take photos, definitely try out your Nepali phrases, keep an open mind and try lots of different foods!
What did you do on your Global Adventures Program nursing placement during 2022?
My placement kicked off at the World Youth International School where I ran a Health Camp for over 300 students alongside another Nurse from Melbourne, and local Doctors and Dentists. We then spent time in Pokhara volunteering alongside Nepalese healthcare staff in the Western Regional Hospital. It was challenging and eye opening, but a brilliant experience – I mainly worked in Intensive Care, with a couple of days in A&E. I also visited the Cardiac Cath Lab in Kathmandu which was a great opportunity. We were able to work closely with the Nepalese team, ask questions and become more familiar with the hospital and wards before getting stuck in to help out wherever we could. I was really keen to learn and to see how see what life as a nurse is like in Nepal at the Western Regional.
Tell us a little bit about your fundraising during 2022.
I love being outside, I love being active in the outdoors. So I decided to do a kind of triathlon type of challenge. Not all in one go. I cycled a famous route in Scotland called the North Coast 500. It's a 500 mile route that goes from Inverness all around the top of Scotland and back to Inverness. It took six days, and even though it was a challenge, it was an amazing experience. A couple of weeks later I ran the Lochaber 80K, which is a 80km trail run in the Highlands, which was again, really difficult but great fun. Then I swam 1km across the Loch back in my home county of Cumbria. I was able to raise about one and a half thousand pounds. I'm so grateful to everybody who sponsored me and all my colleagues and all my family and friends who helped make the opportunity possible. All the money went towards World Youth’s sustainable development projects in Nepal.
What do you love the most about being a nurse?
Oh, so many things. Nursing is so diverse, it can take you anywhere. You are always learning and you're not only learning from your environment, but you're also learning from the people that you meet. While in Nepal during November 2022 I was with a fantastic nurse from Australia called Kate and she's a theatre nurse and it's brilliant being able to share stories and share insights and support each other as well. Nursing is such a supportive job - you're in it together and I love that.
What are you most looking forward to during Trek Nepal 2023?
I am really looking forward to meeting the team from Computershare and joining in their adventure of a lifetime. It will be wonderful for the team to get an insight into the work World Youth International do at the School in Kathmandu, and the incredible positive impact they have there. Through this, they will also be able to see directly how their contributions are changing lives –awesome! I am excited to share my love of Nepal and its wild places with others and to see it for the first time again through the eyes of the trekkers. It will be a challenge for the group, Nepal is a very different environment to be in, and I think the camaraderie that will grow from that will inspire future adventures and challenges. Fingers crossed for a clear sky for sunrise on the top of Poon Hill as that is a view that will stay with everyone for a lifetime.
The team, led by Jen, commence Trek Nepal 2023 on 15 November 2023. You can help them achieve their fundraising goal and improve children’s education in Nepal by donating here: Canada, USA, Australia, UK.