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Trio warm up for Nepal charity trek

Trio warm up for Nepal charity trekA TRIO of intrepid women are warming up for the trek of a lifetime to aid Huntly-based charity Himalayan Initiatives.

Charity trekkers Debbie Haefner and Jane Lockyer, both from Huntly, and Liz Mackay, from Kemnay, will be cooking up a fundraising pancake tea in the garden at Cluny, on Huntly's Victoria Road, this weekend to boost funds for their mission to distribute stoves to villagers in north-east Nepal.

The three will take on the challenging Dudh Kunda Circuit, walking at an altitude of more than 4500m as part of the stove project. There are still places available on the two-and-a-half-week trip in October. Details and the itinerary are available on the website at

Himalayan Initiatives supports community-led sustainable development in Nepal and, at the request of village communities, has funded more than 770 cooking stoves to date. These replace smoky mud stoves or open fires which can cause health problems for both young and old, including asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and lung cancer.

The project links with a Nepal Government initiative to promote the use of improved cooking stoves. The government provides a 30% subsidy towards the cost of the stove, and the charity requests that households contribute 10% where possible and the charity makes up the rest which, including transportation costs, works out at £65 per stove.

Jane, the charity's chairperson, said: "This trip offers a brilliant opportunity to experience the wonderful cultures and scenery of Nepal away from the main tourist trails and to get involved first-hand with the work of the charity.

"It's a challenging trek, but for anyone with a moderate level of fitness it should be manageable. Some preparatory hillwalking here at home is advisable – we've been making the most of the recent good weather to get those legs in training."

For Debbie, treasurer at Himalayan Initiatives, this will be her first trip to Nepal.

She said: "I'm really looking forward to seeing the stove project in action. The stoves, which are manufactured in Kathmandu, bring so many benefits over the traditional method of cooking on open fires, which produce smoke-filled houses with all the potential health problems that poses.

"It is also not uncommon for children to fall or roll into the fires and be severely burnt.

"The new stoves have a chimney to remove smoke to the outside, are much safer and burn wood much more efficiently, easing the burden on local forests and saving villagers both time and money. The stoves have proved so popular that we have had requests for many more. We aim to be providing at least a further 100 stoves in October – hopefully more if the fundraising goes well."

Debbie, Jane and Liz are offering a warm welcome to all for their pancake tea, to be held between 2-4.30pm this Sunday, August 4. Nepalese handicrafts will be on sale and there will be a plants stall, raffle and second-hand books stall.

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