May 9 – Barsa with Squeaky Shoes

…was born on the side of a road;
…has beautiful big eyes so dark brown they look black;
…has sandals that make a squeak with each step;
…likes to blow kisses;
…knows how to “high-five”;
…lives at Her Farm with her biological mother, but is every woman’s child and every girl’s sister;
…had me at “hello”;
…will get an education, good nutrition, health care, and lots of hugs at Her Farm;
…has strong women as role models;
…will learn to talk and say “Uncle” when she sees Scott MacLennan;
..but most of all, Barsa with Squeaky Shoes has a future because she is at Her Farm.

Barsa’s mother is on the left in the photo below, holding and breastfeeding the baby of the woman on the right, who had come to Her Farm needing help. It was obvious the baby’s mother had been unable to provide adequate nutrition for her baby, so without hesitation, no words needed, Barsa’s mother began to breastfeed the woman’s baby. Instinctive, pure-of-heart human kindness.

Helping, sharing, and working together at Her Farm. If you’ve made a donation already, thank you. If not please consider doing so. Immediate funds are needed to continue earthquake relief efforts. We’re making a difference every day to rebuild Mankhu.

Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri


May 7 – Wedding Day!

In previous visits to Nepal, when I saw women tilling in the terraced fields, I’d watch them labor and think, “That must be such hard work.” Today, in 95* sun, when it was me tilling long irrigation trenches, my thoughts were, “SWEET JESUS, CAN SOMEONE PLEASE JUST POUR A BUCKET OF ICE WATER ON ME!” Like there’s ice anywhere here . . .

My Her Farm sisters asked, “Anna, you okay?” They had barely broken a sweat. We rested a bit. One of the girls picked some fuzzy soft leaves–who needs tissues–for me to blow my nose. (Almost over a head cold.) While we sat, we picked grass and green stuff to drop off for the goats and cows kept in an open shed on the way back to the main house. Breakfast (rice and veggies again) was ready when we returned.

Scott has been approached by villagers asking about loans to help rebuild their houses and replace belongings, about $250 per house. Let that sink in a bit–$250 per house . . . Villagers will be doing the labor themselves, probably building together in groups. Whatever materials can be used again will be. Two Hundred homes, $250 each. To rebuild the entire village will take about a third of the value of a U.S. home. Scott is reviewing all this with the Her Farm Board of Directors, but it sounds like a plan. He’s encouraged that villagers are asking for a loan–a helping hand up, not a handout.

A third delivery of rice bags arrived this afternoon. Mankhu receives help because of Her Farm. It’s simple really: you donate money, Her Farm has money, Sunita MacLennon calls a local rice provider who delivers the next day. Still on the news are reports of difficulty getting aid where it’s needed. Not here–Mankhu has food and a plan to rebuild. As Scott recently posted on his Facebook page, “Mankhu is Rising!”

All day we’ve heard drums and Nepali flutes playing just down the road for a wedding celebration. Some of the younger girls here dressed in the traditional bright Nepali style. I wore my cleanest dirty clothes. We walked down the road together and went to the wedding, where I was graciously welcomed. I saw some similarities to western world weddings: the bride was beautiful and beaming with happiness, the mother of the bride was crying, the groom looked a bit shell-shocked, children were dancing, and men were grouped together outside drinking.

Me? I polished off my fourth liter of water today.

Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri


May 6 – Growing Hope at Her Farm

Providing a safe place for women and children coming from abusive family situations to live and support themselves was and still is the primary mission of Her Farm. But in the past few years, as infrastructure was developed, a higher purpose evolved. Operations at Her Farm, including taking care of livestock, farming crops, schooling, food preparation, building maintenance, buying supplies, and care for younger children, are now managed by the women. They also do outreach service within Mankhu village. They have become educated, confident, and empowered. With the realization of what they have accomplished here, they now know they can do anything.

This is a truly amazing outcome in a culture where the value of girls and women is, for the most part, insignificant. But the women here are strong role models for younger children. Many want to buy property and create their own Her Farm in other villages.

It starts in one village, in this generation. And as women plant the Her Farm concept in other villages, they will create future generations of empowered women, and then real change will have occurred. Hope and opportunity – what a wonderful crop to grow!

I am respectfully asking for donations, which you can do at, the official site of Her Farm. Immediate funds are needed for earthquake damage in Mankhu. Here are some important things to know about how your $$$ is being used:

1) Scott MacLennan, Executive Director, as well as members of the Board receive nothing except good karma for their work. Scott does get all the dal baht he wants, though. Only the Nepali women working here are compensated.
2) 100% of what you give goes directly to Her Farm, a 501(c) tax deductible entity with IRS.
3) Through a volunteer program, about 150 in a year, Her Farm receives about $50,000 annually in revenue.
4) Scott is totally involved. He Lives here at least half the year. Mankhu knows him as a neighbor, not an outsider. Women and girls know him as Father or Uncle. His U.S. home is up for sale.
5) Scott doesn’t just have his heart in this endeavor. For example, When he sold his business in New Mexico and “retired”, rather than take the sale money himself, he made a deal for the buyer to make monthly donations to Her Farm. Scott got a higher selling price and the buyer got a tax deduction. (He’s so smart!) – Growing Hope for Nepali women and girls at Her Farm.


Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri

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May 5 – My Turn

With this visit, I will have spent eight months with Nepali people. They have allowed me the honor of walking across their grand mountains. They have fed me, washed my dishes, put up my tent, brought hot tea to my tent each morning, carried my belongings, gave me a solid grip on a log across a raging river, kept me from getting lost, and fixed ropes and anchors for safe descents down icy steep slopes. Lakpa Tamang, Nawang Sherpa, and Lakpa Sherpa even took turns carrying me on their back at one point, when I was ill and exhausted and couldn’t even stand up, let alone walk.

Now it’s my turn. There’s so much to be done in all of Nepal, but at least I can help some.

Wandering around Her Farm, I saw on the third floor of the main building (accommodations for Scott and his wife Sunita, and visiting volunteers) that a brick wall in process of construction had fallen from the earthquake.

“Hmmm, I think I can fix that.” Now let’s suppose this happened to any of most of you readers. Your choices to fix it would be –

a) Not my concern; the contractor will deal with it.
b) I’ll toss the rubble in trash, city will take it away, call Home Depot to deliver more bricks.
c) I’ll chip away the mortar from all the bricks because I can use them again.

First of all, you already have something we don’t here: a choice! I’m guessing none of you (except for my Aunt Nancy) chose “c”, but that is basically the only option here. I asked for a chisel and hammer and got a “deer in the headlights” response, so I settled for a farm tilling tool. With help from Michaela and Sherry, we’ve “recycled” all the bricks we could. Tomorrow I’ll ask about mortar.

Once it gets cooler in the early evening, we’ll go out in the fields and do some hand tilling and weeding on the terraced fields where tomatoes, beans, corn, cabbage, and soybeans are growing. “Green acres is the place to be, farm livin’ is the life for me . . .”

Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri


May 4 – Standing Strong at Her Farm

The Her Farm school walls were built with lots and lots of dirt bags, by Her Farm girls and women and Scott’s volunteer team. Reasons to use dirt bags? They are (duh) dirt-cheap. Dirt is plentiful – there’s a whole mountain of it here. Labor is cheap – even little tykes can help fill bags with dirt. And most importantly last week, dirt bags absorb earthquake shocks. The school is still standing strong. You can see there was only a bit of outside damage in this photo.

The finishing technique to dirt bag wall construction is called “mudding”. Gaps around the bags are filled in with sloppy mud. A bit of cow poo is added in to get extra hardness during the drying process. After that, paint can be applied as desired. The volunteers here did an amazing job! Some of the mudding came off during the quakes, so touch repairs are in process.

The building also has a room called Her Clinic, which was built for nineteen year old Namunaa Lopchan, soon to graduate from nursing school in Kathmandu. She has been with Her Farm for five years.

But three years ago, she happened to be in a village I was hiking through alone. I was looking for the trail to Juhle and not sure which way to go. (For those of you who didn’t follow my 2012 trek across Nepal, this was during a two-week period In which I was recovering from exhaustion and illness.) I asked Namunaa the way and she and two friends took me to the right trail I needed. Then they walked with me to make sure I got there. And they picked berries for me to eat.

We exchanged names, and I gave her my website information. When I returned to the U.S., I had a friend request from her on Facebook. It was through Namunaa that I learned about Scott and Her Farm. Now I am here to help. Isn’t it amazing what her act of kindness ultimately gave wings to?

I am filled with pride when she calls me “sister”.

Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri

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May 3 – Moonrise over Mankhu

Getting from Point A to B in Nepal is not easy, and today was no exception. The traffic in Kathmandu had returned to its normal chaotic mess. The main road to Dhadingbest (about fifty miles) where Scott would meet me, was crowded with trucks, buses and motorcycles, all competing for best position by honking their horns the most. The day was oppressively hot.

Scott sent Radip from Her Farm with his jeep to pick me up. When we drove 75′ through a river, I knew the ride would be interesting. The dirt road was the narrowest, roughest, muddiest, edgiest EVER! Radip had to stop at about halfway and add water to the radiator. I took the opportunity to show Sumjama, a girl about 14 in the front seat, that one shopping bag was filled with “girlie” products, her eyes got wide and she gave me a solid “thumbs up”. It is, after all, HER Farm. It took nearly an hour to go a bit over four miles to the top of the mountain. We passed house after destroyed house, most in the process of rebuilding.their brick and mud walls.

There are five volunteers staying here who have a renewed sense of purpose since the quake. They told me Manchu had experienced four to five aftershocks per day and that the previous night as the first to sleep indoors. Village children come here to play with Her Farm children, so I’m not sure how many are actual residents here, but a guess would be fifteen women and children. The youngest, fourteen-month Barsa, was born on the side of a road. Her mother is mentally ill. Several are victims of abuse or rape. Some left their home rather than enter a forced marriage.

As evening came, the scorching sun went behind the mountain, allowing cooling relief. The night was clear, and an almost full moon shown down on light mist in the valley below. There was a peaceful sense of quiet and serenity at Her Farm and Mankhu.

As it should be. These souls deserve nothing less.

Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri


May 2 – Soaring Among Giants

Such a beautiful morning to fly! I was in what’s called a “stol” plane (Short Take Off Landing). Once the plane taxied from the tarmac and we sat at the end of the runway, I could look out the pilot’s front window and see the short runway slanting down towards the cliff edge. I’ve got to admit that as the engine revs to full throttle, my heart rate goes up as well. Faster, faster, then right before we reach the edge . . . We are airborne.

I had taken a seat facing north and could see the giant Himalaya clearly. The flight was only forty-five minutes to cover the same distance that almost two weeks ago had taken ten hours by jeep plus three days walking. Geography happens.

The airport was busy with lots of choppers from different countries unloading aid supplies. Domestic and international flights are taking place. More people are leaving than coming, so getting bags and a taxi was no problem.

Kathmandu had rubble, crumbling buildings, tangles of utility wires. But then it always has this. Strangely, it looked, well, somehow “normal”. My hotel was still standing and had a room ready with (hooray!) power, water and wifi.

So what happens next? After a shower and clothes washing, I’m going shopping. Scott MacLennan, who I’ve referenced on my Facebook page, gave me a list of food and supplies needed at Her Farm in Mankhu village, which was leveled completely, as it was near the epicenter. Her Farm is a home for displaced women and children, developed through by Scott and his supporters. The most recent accomplishment is (was?) a fully functional school that provides breakfast for any child showing up.

I’ll leave for Mankhu either tomorrow or the day after and stay there until my flight leaves for the U.S. May 17th. I’ll be learning more about Her Farm and am eager to share my experience here with all of you. It is an honor to have an opportunity to return some of the kindness Nepali people have so generously and compassionately shown to me.


Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri


April 30 – Lukla

There is a logjam of passengers here in Lukla waiting for flights back to Kathmandu. But weather today is clear, so we are hoping to get boarded tomorrow. It’s a simple process, actually: you buy a ticket, stand in line, and as planes arrive, you get on a plane, if weather turns bad, you go back to a guest lodge and wait for the next day to get in line again. No flight number, no departure time.

It’s a bit complicated to land on a tiny 1600′ airstrip on a mountainside cliff. For that reason, and weather issues, National Geographic TV rates Lukla #1 of the world’s ten most dangerous airports. The runway is slanted 12% to slow a landing speed, and conversely, to maximize lift before the runway ends at the cliff. Coming or going, it’s a “nail it” the first time situation. There’s no option for a go-around.

Wifi is down in Lukla, so this could be a long day. As I wait, I can’t help but wonder what I’ll encounter in Kathmandu. Is my hotel still there? My flight back to the U.S. Isn’t until May 18, I think. I doubt I’ll be able to move my flight up, and I’m not sure I even want to. I’m hoping I can put this time to good use, perhaps contacting relief agencies or hospitals to see how I might help.

Thanks for being a part of my journey — because of you, I never feel really alone. xoxox

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April 27 – Beautiful Nepal

I’ve learned and seen enough to know that news reports are certainly showing you horrific images of devastation so I thought I’d share a different perspective. The first photo is one I took of Kyajo.Ri this morning. What an amazing sight! The second is a view from the trail this morning.

We must turn back today, from Machermo, which is disappointing, but under present circumstances, I feel nothing but profound gratitude for my good health and safety. We learned last night that Gokyo, our next intended destination, has only a few undamaged buildings, and is in danger of flooding. There are several higher glacial lakes nearby where cracks in the earth occurred and water is seeping into the valley floor below. It is too dangerous to go there. Aftershocks happen every 12 hours or so. It will take us three days to walk to Lukla.

We depend on others on the trail for information and get conflicting information regarding availability of place to stay and of food and bottled water. We see choppers in constant flight up/down the valley going to Everest Base Camp. I fear the worst.

Many trekkers, guides and porters have no way to contact family, so my satellite phone has been quite useful to help in that regard. Each time I dial a number and hand over my phone, I hope for tears of relief, but that is not always the case,

God help my beautiful Nepal and her kind souls,

Posted in 2015 Pachermo & Kyajo-Ri


April 25 – All of a Sudden…

. . . my soup sloshed out of the bowl onto the table. “Uh, that shouldn’t have happened,” I thought. Then I hear a rumbling and the whole room started to sway back and forth. “Wow, strong gust of wind.” thought. Looking out the open front door, I realized the large stone patio was moving back and forth along with the building. What the . . . ?

I heard rocks falling and women screaming. Kaji, just outside, shouted, “Earthquake!” and motioned for me to get out. I was already running for the door. My brain had trouble processing that the mountain I stood on was  . . . moving. The rumble was thunderous! I looked for something to hold onto and my wobbling feet took me to (ironically) a prayer flag pole to hold on to. Thirty feet from me a large, old stupa cracked, the top broke off and fell. Even though it all lasted :45 seconds, it seemed never-ending.

After a bit of discussion and a lot of Om Mani Padme Om, Kaji, our porter Chitre and I continued along the trail quickly to get to a more protected area where there was forest above us. Still in a heavy mist, we heard but could not see, almost constant rockfalls below us and across the valley. There were cracks in the earth in the middle of our narrow “shelf” trail cut into the steep mountainside. Rock edging in some places had broken away and hung precariously on the edge.

We decided to stay put in Phortse tonight, since we heard that guest houses farther up were completely fallen. My room is on the ground floor. The building is fairly new and has no cracks in it. Yet. The dining room has a nice stove fire. There’s an interesting international group here, so we’re sharing stories and waiting for aftershocks, hopefully we can learn more about what is happening, where the epicenter is. Feeling a bit . . . Isolated.

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