WOW | Coffee Break
Women on TOP
On May 2018, five young women involved in different facets of journalism in the country, are going to climb Mt Everest with the slogan ‘Unified Voice for Equity. The expedition is being held under the banner of the Federation of Nepali Journalists. Rosha Basnet of Rastriya Samachar Samiti, Priya Laxmi Karki of News 24 Television, Kalpana Maharjan of Megha Television, Rojita Buddhacharya, of Nepal Television, and Deuralee Chamling, a freelancer have been preparing hard for what will be a lifetime achievement and experience. In this session of Coffee Break, the fearless females share what it entails to make in to the top of the world.
What got you interested in this Everest expedition?
Rojita: It was a childhood fascination.
After the loss of my mum at the age of two, I spent my childhood with my grandparents; partly in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu. While observing the night sky with my grandfather I asked him questions about my mum’s appearance, her facial structure, hair etc. One night, he pointed to the moon and told me that my mum was there. Since that day, I imagined that I would one day jump from one house to another, escalating towards the hill then to the tallest mountain and take a final leap from its peak to land on the moon.
Rosha: After working at RSS for over three years, I was tired of the sedentary lifestyle. I always wanted to explore remote areas of Nepal and discover nature. I am glad that this expedition has brought an exciting change to my life. I believe through this expedition I will be able to inspire female journalist to break the stereotypes. After all what better way to raise your voice than from the highest point in the world?
Kalpana: I won the Media Rock Climbing Competition 2011 and 2013, organised by National Tourism Journalist Association (NATOJ). While working as a television reporter for Mountain Television, NATOJ offered me to go on an expedition to Mera peak. But sadly during the training, I became very sick and was unconscious for a week. After my recovery, I once again longed to make a name for myself in tourism journalism. However, due to the unpleasant experience, I could not share this with my family. One day, when I got in touch with Rosha, the feeling revived. I immediately said yes to the expedition, keeping it a secret from my family. I am really excited to explore my strength and promote tourism through this expedition.
Deurali: I have always been spontaneous and fond of travelling and adventure sports. But my interest in mountaineering goes back to my childhood. While my father was reading the paper, I saw the image of Pasang Lamhu Sherpa. When I asked my mum who she was, she told me that Lamhu was someone who became immortal. I always wondered what that meant. I researched her story, and she inspired me to climb the Mt Everest someday. But it was very expensive and I never thought I would be able to pursue my dream. I met Rosha through a common friend and she asked me to join them on the expedition. Leaving everything aside, I started preparing for it. I am really excited to see what the mountains have to offer.
Priya Laxmi: When I was young, the sight of the steep mountains always captivated me. In 2010 I was invited for an expedition which was managed by Pemba Tsering Sherpa, but I had to procure Rs 12 lakhs for it. Since I could not arrange such a large sum of money within the given deadline, I was unable to go. However, I still aspired to climb the mountain someday. A friend named Shristi informed me about this expedition and I immediately joined in.
How do people react?
Rojita: I have been getting mixed reactions. Some people think we are crazy, while many have complimented us for our courage.
Rosha: Personally my family has fully supported me. Also, we are getting a lot of positive response from people.
Kalpana: Most people have told me that the decision is insane. Some have even judged me for leaving my six year old son behind. As for my family, initially, I did not reveal my plans. I only mentioned it after the training. Although they are a bit worried, they are supportive of my decision.
Deurali: When I informed mum about my plans, she was very positive about it. Although the news was not something unexpected for my relatives and friends, my grandmother was surprised.
Priya Laxmi: Initially people were a bit skeptical. They thought it was just a whim and the idea would disappear in the next two months. When we went to Ramdung Peak for our training, my family was anticipating that I would give up. But the difficulties inspired me to work harder. The most encouraging response we’ve received is from the government officials.
How supportive is the team?
Rojita: For me, my team is the reason for my existence on this mission. The idea of female journalists climbing the Mount Everest was designed to unite all of us. We fight with each other (a lot). We have many disagreements but we care for each other. We’ve accepted each other’s strength and weakness. We keep our personal differences behind when it comes to planning our strategies.
Rosha: Mountaineering seeks a high level of trust. I have been very conscious to build trust among my team members. We are a very good team. We tolerate, encourage and motivate each other. As we have been staying together in a closed camp during our preparation, we have become a family now.
Kalpana: We are each other’s backbone. We guide, discuss, motivate each other in every possible ways.
Deurali: Team support is very important. If I lack in any part, my team always motivates me to improve.
Priya Laxmi: The entire world needs teamwork to survive. No one can ever survive alone. In the context of mountaineering, going with a team is much easier than travelling alone.
What are your plans after the expedition?
Rojita: My ultimate dream is to work for education of children in remote areas.
Rosha: I want to travel to every nook and corner of the country. Also, I want to encourage females who have interest in joining the media and help them with proper facilitation, training and guidance.
Kalapana: After Everest, I will be focusing on promoting tourism in my hometown, Lalitpur by promoting our local handicrafts. Also, I will be exploring new tourist destinations in the country and make locals aware of the importance of our heritage, guiding them to make better income.
Deurali: Life is very uncertain so we should live in the present. For now my one and only concern is making our summit successful.
Priya Laxmi: I will be facilitating young reporters, guiding them on how to give right information without distorting the truth.
Message to women who see you as a source of inspiration
Rojita: Dare to Dream and have the courage to fight for it.
Rosha: Aim high, dream big and have the courage to fulfil your destiny. Rise above the circumstances and lead the road to change.
Kalpana: My grandmother once shared that when people claim women are Aabala (powerless) they forget the word itself has strength (bal) in it. The only thing that stops a woman from growing is herself.
Deurali: Prioritise your mental and physical health. Try to spread happiness, peace and tranquillity.
Priya Laxmi: Do not be afraid to take the first step. A little courage can take you a long way. For example, the expedition cost us almost Rs two crores. Although we did not have that kind of money, we looked for sponsors, contacted our relatives and somehow managed to finance it. So, at least try before giving up on your dreams.