On March 11, 2013 Ramesh BK and his team kick off the second bi-annual Medical Trek Nepal with a focus of reaching rural, cut-off villages in Nepal. Helping villagers with get medical care is not the only mission for Ramesh BK. He has a message: we want equality for Nepal for Dalits, women, and other minorities. His trekking group is a shining example of that. The trek is lead by Dalit guides. His medical team is made up of Nepali and American women doctors and nurses.
BK has his heart into this trek, and with good reason. Although today , he is a successful businessman with a home and life in the United States, not long ago he classed himself in a marginalized caste that felt little hope of rising above caste discrimination despite laws in Nepal that are clearly define such discrimination is illegal.
“I was lucky,” says Ramesh BK of Chitwan district. “I worked as a tourist guide since I was a teenager. I met people who helped me along. But that is not the norm in Nepal. Most guys like me don’t get that kind of break.”
That is why in 2010, after 1 year of opening his now popular adventure company Hardcore Nepal, (http://hardcorenepal.com) he and his wife Sandra Krasa BK began seeking Dalits who were interested in becoming guides and training them to work in tourism. Today, the offices of Hardcore Nepal and TREKT Himalaya (http://trekthimalaya.com) (the couple’s U.S. incorporated company) are manned by primarily Dalit guides; most come from Gorkha, near Bimal Nagar.
“Before I met Ramesh and Sandra I had no English, no job and not much to do,” says Ram Chandra BK from Gorkha. “Today I am the manager of Hardcore Nepal Adventures. My English is not perfect, but very good because they teach [sic] me to guide and talk with tourists. My life is very different now. Very different; very happy.”
The message that Ramesh BK and all of his guides want to spread as they trek through remote areas of Dhading district Nepal, including many Dalit communities, is that Nepal is a place where rising above caste or gender inequalities is possible if the people keep marching forward.
“Today I am proud of my Nepali heritage, and I don’t feel anything about being so-called Dalit. Untouchability is just a strange idea that no one really cares about in other places - not even in Kathmandu. I want to tell the villagers that. I wish I would have thought that when I was growing up instead of letting myself think we were somehow different.”
It takes a voice, it takes a village, it takes a community to come together and help each other.
Media are invited to this trek which departs Kathmandu on March 13, 2013.
Ramesh BK can be reached at (977) 981 346 3599, email@example.com
Ram Chandra BK can be reached at (977) 981 390 1983, ramchandra@hardcorenepal. com