Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with GVN in Nepal?
Simone: I always wanted to trek to and physically exert myself to reach it. Taking a jeep on the Tibetan side was not an option for me. Furthermore I always wanted to support charity and a good cause. With the trek I could combine both desires.
Describe your day to day activities of the Everest Base Camp Program.
Simone: Get up at 6.30 am, have breakfast at 7am (always porridge, eggs and bread). Leave the lodge at 7.30am (sometimes everything half an our earlier even) then trek... walk and walk and walk... up up and up... exhausting. Lunch was always full of carbohydrates, potatoes, rice and bread... then trek again! Step by step... up and up! In the afternoon we would arrive at the lodge where we stay the next night. We'd have tea and cracker. One day there was no tea prepared and 20 people where shocked and did not know what to do. Even on the way back you will not believe how much you have to walk uphill again.
Ten years from now, what’s the one thing you think you’ll remember from the trip?
Simone: The tremendous torture it was to reach the goal. However to also notice that when you think you reached your limit you can always push further. The indescribable beauty of nature. Words don't do it justice. And the true happiness of Nepali people. Who have so little, yet give so much.
What was the best moment of the entire trip?
Simone: The overwhelming feeling when finally reaching basecamp. Completely exhausted, incapable of walking only one more step. Finally you reached your goal... you remember the voices of your supporters who donated for the cause to whom you promised you'll make it. And then finally meeting the kids at BFCH and getting to know we managed to finance the home for two full calendar years. Together we really made a difference. Small individual contributions summed up to something of significant impact.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Simone: I am still supporting GVN, via Eat So They Can and this year by joining the South African Cycle Challenge. I have learned what matters really in life. I am able to differentiate minor issues from real problems and am even more grateful for what I have and feel blessed for the life that I am allowed to live. Professionally I take things a lot easier. Time pressure, important deadlines or meetings are all relevant. Of course only to a certain extent as the professional life is the one that finances our private life.