TREKT Himalaya - Mission Treks in Nepal
Canyoning Guides with Guest from Hardcore Nepal

“We are not untouchable! We are Nepali. We are guides. We are proud!” Ramesh BK with Trainee from 2009, Ram Chandra BK

Dream Nepal Dalit Training Program by Hardcore Nepal Adventures

Most of the guides you meet at Hardcore Nepal and TREKT Himalaya come from the Dalit caste. Here is our story of how we started, why we are dedicated to training guides from this caste, and how you help us each time you book a tour with us.  Your participation elevates the life and village status of the guides who work for us.  They return home as proud “guides” and can say they work for one of Nepal’s top tourism companies.  Thank you in advance for your support… Here is our story.

How the Dalit Training Program Started

In Autumn 2009, we started training three young men from the Dalit community near Bimal Nagar, Nepal, and one non-Dalit from Charaudi, Nepal, to be guides.   We focused on Rock Climbing and Canyoning guiding, but also provided opportunities for Mountain Bike training and Kayaking through other companies who also volunteered to give them a chance.   Within one year, two of our guides had offers for regular full-time employment for the tourist seasons, and the other two got steady freelance work.

Since then, we have had several offers from Western guides to help train our recruits further, so we decided, why not start a regular program to help men and women from the Dalit castes train for a better chance at getting a job, a better tomorrow, and a better life?

How this Helps Dalit Communities

Ram Chandra BK – HN Adventures/TREKT Office Manager

Take for example one of our most successful trainees, Ram Chandra BK, from Bimal Nagar.  Ram Chandra, at 22 years old, was responsible for taking care of his mother and six younger siblings.  When we first met him on a climbing trip in his village, he had no steady employment or way of earning a living.  The family was destitute and relying on whatever help they could get from other family members and villagers for food and basic needs.    A few months later, when we had a small tourist group camp at the village, Ram Chandra asked us if he could please carry some equipment and help in our camp to earn some money.  We employed him and two others on that trip.   He called us a few weeks later to ask if there was any work in Kathmandu.  He had no guiding experience, but as we were busy with trips, we told him to come and we would find something for him to do.   He was eager to help and learn anything.  He quickly learned to do Climbing and Canyoning and was great with our clients.   We kept training him for office work as well.   One year later, another company asked him to work as a freelance Canyoning guide.  They were so impressed with him, that they too offered free training and he has now learned to be a safety kayaker working along the many, many rafting trips that originate from Kathmandu Rafting agencies each season.    In less than a year,  a young man who had almost no way of earning money for his family’s survival has had found many different ways to get good work. Today he is an important member of the HN Adventure/TREKT team as office manager and volunteer trek/training coordinator. As of 2014, Ram Chandra has taken the helm and trains other dalit guides at Hardcore Nepal Adventures.  He is considered Nepal’s best canyoning guide and trainer, and gets much respect and recognition in the adventure tourism industry in Kathmandu.

Nepalis want to work.  They just need opportunities.  The best things volunteers can do for Nepal is create jobs and educate people for those jobs. It’s great to teach everyone English, but there is no use for it if there are no jobs in tourism, trade, or technology. We cannot do everything, but we hope we have made a step in the right direction by training and employing the most impoverished and discriminated against of all Nepalis in the nation’s unique tourism industry.

Why We Believe in Helping Dalit People in Nepal

“My son will not grow up knowing what it means to be dalit. The people I meet today respect me as a guide and a business owner, they just see me, not my caste… But we are lucky ones; there is still so much awareness we should bring to villages.”

Ramesh BK (Bishwokarma), owner of Hardcore Nepal Extreme Adventures, grew up in the small village of Similtal along the Trishuli River. His family was the only Dalit family in the village. Ramesh remembers a childhood of having to sit outside at community celebrations, having to wash his own dishes in tea houses where he had already paid for food, and not be allowed to enter the homes of his childhood friends. The elders of the community reminded him he came from the “Untouchable” caste. Ramesh’s mother, worried for her son, would always warn him not to go into the homes of the other villagers. His father on the other-hand rejected everything about this idea, except for the inclination to fight against it. He became a village leader, a land owner, and dabbled in local politics.   The family seemed to be rising above their caste status by sheer tenacity and hard work.  But in 2003, tragedy struck. The proud home they had worked for years to build was swept away one night in a monsoon landslide. The family was homeless, penniless, and nearly hopeless.  They were moved to a refugee camp where they would live under a tarp by the river for 2 years. One year into their life in the tarp tent with little work to be found, and even less food for the family, Ramesh’s father disappeared in the Trishuli River while kayaking. His body was never found.  Ramesh was left to fend for his family alone at 19 years old.

He survived and even thrived thanks to hard work, a few kind souls willing to give him a chance, and the idea that his father left with him – you can transcend!

Ramesh was offered a chance to work in rafting because his father had supplied all the handmade oars for the rafting companies in Nepal, and many people knew his father as a great craftsman and riverman.  A couple great guides taught him to kayak in their spare time.  Soon Ramesh was working steadily as a safety kayaker.  Within a few years, he was able to not only rise above the caste discrimination, but he started to thrive, becoming a requested guide and safety kayaker for companies in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Ramesh BK with trainees from 2010.

In what seems like a short time, Ramesh BK has gone from living under a tarp in uncertainty to owning his own company (with his wife and partner Sandra Krasa BK) and starting Dream Nepal Volunteer Program as an extension of Hardcore Nepal Extreme Adventures.

Dream Nepal Dalit Training Program came out of request from the village elders of Bimal Nagar, a small village on the Pokhara Highway still unknown for its amazing adventure opportunities (they have rock climbing, caving rafting, and trekking within a stones throw).    When the elders met Ramesh and discovered he was a successful guide and business owner they said, “We have boys here who are also BK (a Dalit caste), like you.  Is there any way you can help them get work?”  And so our training program was born –  Two guys from Bimal Nagar, and two more from other villages.

Our Dream for Our Guides

Ramesh trains guides for canyoning.

In November 2011, we  expanded our training program for non-Dalits (but impoverished youths who need help finding meaningful work) and women.   They will learn canyoning, climbing, rafting, trekking, mountain biking, camp set up, conversational English and other skills which will increase their chances for employment in Nepal’s tourism industry.   In 2012, we hope to add-on computer literacy classes and basic business skills.   With this combination, we hope to train future entrepreneurs who will also create jobs for Nepal.    As our training program and company grows, we would like to make a permanent camp at Bimal Nagar (home to a very large Dalit community) for tourism and training.

You Can Volunteer To Help Train Dailt Guides in Nepal or Intern in our Office

If you are an experienced guide – we need you!   Volunteer with us for Autumn 2013 to train guides in kayaking, rock climbing, canyoning, mountain biking, etc.

Volunteer Brandon Morton from Kentucky, USA helps Binod BK (trainee) on a rock climbing trip near Kathmandu. Brandon helped new guides with training and English language on his 6 weeks stay in Nepal.

If you are a company or individual – we need equipment!  We are happy to take your used equipment, no matter what it looks like.    It is so hard to get climbing shoes, rafts, and kayaks in Nepal.  Any little thing that goes along with these activities helps.  You can donate equipment or consider giving us used things at a discount.

Learn more about sustainable tourism through helping dalits at this website – International Dalit Solidarity Network.   Please watch the video and help end abuse and discrimination of dalits in Nepal.

Hardcore Nepal Canyoning Guide Arjun BK - Dalit Training Program

Arjun BK was our Dream Nepal Dalit Training Program trainee for 2014. He is becoming an excellent canyoning guide, and we are proud to have him on our team.

As we continue to grow, we take on at least 1 new trainee each year.  In 2014, we got a phone call from a local NGO who takes in children.  They had a boy, Arjun BK, who had completed school, and was now 19 years, he had no job.  The NGO had heard about our training program for Dalits and asked us if we would consider Arjun BK as a trainee.  Arjun started with us in September 2014 and is quickly learning the ropes!  He is now a guide assistant to some of our senior guides and is proving himself to be an excellent canyoneer.  Stop by and say hi to Arjun and our other guides when you are in Thamel.