World Challenge is confident that all school teams due to travel to Nepal on expedition in 2016 will be able to do so safely after a comprehensive review of the destination, taking into account advice and information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and our private security partners.
Following the end of the monsoon season and after extensive collaboration with our in- country network, we conducted a comprehensive post-earthquake recce in October 2015.
The objectives of this recce were to check in with our in-country suppliers and assess all areas of operation to establish when it would be safe, and appropriate, for World Challenge teams to return to Nepal.
All World Challenge approved accommodation was visited and visual checks were made for structural damage resulting from the earthquake; those in Kathmandu have been inspected by the government and issued a certificate of structural integrity following the earthquake.
All trekking routes in the Annapurna and Khumbu regions, including the Everest Base Camp and Poon Hill treks, have been reviewed and remain suitable for use in 2016.
Community project sites were reviewed for suitability and in collaboration with our Nepal Project Coordinator, we are looking into a destination-wide strategic approach to best place teams which will allow them to have the greatest positive impact, whilst still delivering the core learning outcomes.
Since the earthquakes, the response from the greater World Challenge community has been incredible with over $40,000 having been donated by schools that have previously travelled to Nepal, Expedition Leaders and other friends of the company.
This money has been placed directly back into the communities and schools we work with and was administered through our in-country project hosts – the Mother and Children Art Foundation, who set up an Earthquake Relief Fund.
We are also working to develop an appropriate response and strategy for our projects in Nepal.
The need has been identified that, more than ever, schools require repair and restoration building works to ensure they have enough safe classrooms for their pupils. Whilst we need to recognise the limitations of the scope of our projects in relation to the substantial amount of work that still needs to be done, World Challenge is committing to doubling the project donation for all 2016 teams to help better equip them to contribute towards this issue.
World Challenge will continue to closely monitor the situation in Nepal and will react accordingly to any significant developments. We will be working with all schools due to travel from 2016 to ensure they have the appropriately planned itineraries.
The safety of our participants remains a major priority.