Join Val and friends for a day in the hills raising money for our work in Nepal and Peru.
Our annual LED charity walk will be held on Saturday 9th September 2023 and we’ll be based in the village of Portinscale, near Keswick in the Lake District.
We plan to head off from the village hall at Portinscale which is just behind the Farmers Arms (grid reference: NY249237, What3words: watching.coasting.typed, Post code: CA12 5RW, Google maps) at 9.30am and ask you to all be there by 9.00am for a safety and update briefing.
We will then all then walk to the foot of Cat Bells with the hope we can all get to the top for a group picture (NY244199). After that there will be choice of 3 “guided” walk options (distance, ascent & timings all advisory!) which are as follows
Short route: Descend to Hause Gate (NY244191) and drop down towards Derwent water and walk back along path above the road (D: 11km, A: 550m, T: 4 hours)
Medium route: Go over Maiden Moor and High Spy and after dropping to the saddle (NY231153) with Dale Head, follow the footpath back into the Newlands Valley (D: 20Km, A:900m, T: 6/7 hours)
Long route: From the saddle climb up to Dale Head (NY222153), follow the ridge north west, then north round to Hindscarth (NY216165)and drop back into Newlands Valley from its north east ridge (D: 22km, A: 1200m, T: 7/8 hours)
You are of course free to choose any other variant of the above!
We will then all enjoy tea and biscuits at Portinscale Village hall before commencing the evening dinner around 7.30pm.
As many of you know, Portinscale is a charming Lakes village just a short walk from Keswick. Whilst there is lots of accommodation available in Portinscale, Keswick or Braithwaite, this is the Lakes so we would advise you to book early!
We’d love to see as many of you that can make it come along and so we can plan the logistics and catering we would be grateful if you would complete the registration form by clicking on this link: https://forms.gle/uw4g75Qj1Fpb1zp78
If you have any further questions now or beforehand please do not hesitate to email us. We look forward to seeing you all on 9th September!
The LED Board of Trustees and Val met in December on Val’s return from Nepal and discussed projects completed in 2022 and to plan for 2023.
For the past couple of years, during the COVID pandemic, we’ve focused funds into very necessary ad-hoc projects – in particular food distribution – in the remote communities in Nepal and Peru that we support.
In 2022 Val was at last able to get back to Peru and Nepal, and we have been able to refocus the charity back onto core projects – solar light distribution, education and health development.
Thanks to another generous round of funding from The Derek Moore Foundation, Val was able to distribute LED solar lights to remote communities in the Cordillera Blanca in July.
LED continues to fund the nurse and medical supplies at Quishuar Health Post and in August Leeds medics James Peaty and George Thomas spent their medical elective volunteering there. As well as providing healthcare from the health post in Quishuar and undertaking home visits for local elderly people who weren’t able to get to the healthpost, James and George also ran a mobile eye clinic in Pingspampa to distribute reading and distance glasses and provided English lessons for local children in Quishuar. Read more in their reports:
Val led two treks in Nepal in October – December 2022, distributing solar lights and eye glasses and running eye clinics in Manaslu, Nar Phu and Solu Khumbu. LED would like to thank Tsering Tarke and Mingmi Sherpa for their assistance in Manaslu and Tenzi and Dr Kami for theirs in Khumbu.
In Khumbu Pat Booth led eye clinics and carried out eye assessments to identify people who would benefit from a mobile cataract clinic due to be held in April. You can read Pat’s write up in “Helping with Glasses”: Eye Clinics in Khumbu
Thame school and community held a reception to thank LED for supporting the teacher and providing school supplies, and for providing food and financial aid during COVID.
Val and Mary met Ang Rita Sherpa of The Partners Nepal in Kathmandu and he provided an update on the 1 Day 1 Tree project LED had funded in Langtang and in supporting the running costs of the Elderly Care Center old people’s home in Bung.
The Nepalese Government has taken over provision of medical supplies to the Rasuwa Health Post following LED’s initial funding of construction and supplies.
Confirmed projects – there will be others:
Quishuar Health Post: We’ll continue to fund the nurse and medical supplies.
Quishuar Health Post Volunteers: Two medics from Dundee Medical School are already confirmed for summer 2023 and Val is talking to two more medics from Leeds about them spending their elective at the health post too.
Bung Old People’s Home & Solar Lights for Langtang: LED is partnering with The Partners Nepal to continue to support the running costs of Bung old people’s home and to provide solar lights for Langtang, which TPN will distribute. Langtang has still not recovered from the 2015 earthquake.
Thame school: LED will continue support the teacher and provide school supplies for another year.
Solar lights: One of the remote communities Val will be distributing lights to are the yak herders in the Thame valley to provide protection against increasing numbers of wolves and wolf attacks.
In recent years, LED has started to carry out basic eye checks in the remote communities Val visits when distributing LED solar lights and medical/school supplies, and while on trek. This has been down to the invaluable guidance and support from “Eye Doctor” Pat Booth who has provided instructions and charts and glasses carefully labelled and packaged.
In November 2022, Pat headed out to Khumbu with Val and a small trekking group. Here’s her write up of the trip.
It was with some trepidation that I agreed to go back to Nepal in November 2022, after missing three years with COVID restrictions. But it turned out to be the best trip ever!
We started off at Chhahari Eco Resort, just outside Kathmandu, as a group of nine trekkers. I got a box of glasses out and showed them all how it works – as most Nepalis and Peruvians have really good distance vision you can give them reading glasses based on their age. The next day four of us went up to Nagi Gompa to check some of the nuns and screen the schoolgirls staying there.
Then up to ‘Remote Khumbu’ via Lukla. One of our first visits was to the hospital at Kunde. They had some donated reading glasses there already but unfortunately mainly too strong; +1.00 and +1.50 suits most people, if you would ever like to bring some along with you. They had an ophthalmoscope (for looking in people’s eyes) that we borrowed as I had had to leave mine behind because of the weight restrictions on the flight to Lukla. The best thing was the news that they had an Eye Camp coming in the Spring to do cataract surgery, so we were able to advise people to come back then.
We then went on to Thame where we were treated to a display of Nepali dancing by the pupils at the school. We were then able to screen all the children who were boarding at the school, using an alphabet poster as a chart. Even the youngest children could do this easily – they all had fantastic vision. We had so many helpers we were able to work in two teams.
In the afternoon we were booked to do eye checks at the Thame Health Post. Again, we were able to work in two teams as we had a retired GP with us who was also able to use the ophthalmoscope. That turned into a long session, and it was getting too dark to see by the end. My scribe was side-tracked by the guides’ and porters’ tales of how many times they had summited Everest and Ama Dablam etc. They would all have been world famous if they had been westerners.
When we were in the more remote areas of the trip, we pretty much did eye checks in every place we stayed. As ever, the people were incredibly grateful for our services. We were all laden down with prayer scarves by the end.
I was re-acquainted with Tsering from my Manaslu trip, when he was a very helpful primary teacher in Sama. Here in Khumbu as one of Val’s team, Tsering did most of my optical translation for me, as well as being my personal porter. From his point of view, he became recipient of my Most Improved Optical Assistant award and graduated to Fully Trained Sight Tester!
The sun is very strong in the mountains and can cause eye damage; Tsering embraced the need for change and we took every opportunity to get people to wear a hat or cap with a brim, and sunglasses if possible, especially for the guides and porters who spent time on snow and ice.
We were in an area near Everest which had a lot of infrastructure supported by The Hillary Foundation, which means there is lots of Wi-Fi – and so lots of mobile phones. There unfortunately seemed to be an associated increase in distance vision problems. So we also encouraged youngsters to follow the 20/20/20 Rule: for every 20 minutes on a screen or device, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 metres away.
In total we saw over 300 patients, mainly for reading glasses but also some distance, conducted vision screening in youngsters and a basic eye health check. We also distributed some safety glasses (it was alarming to see stone masons at work unprotected) and gave advice to two families whose very young children had squints (not previously diagnosed).
Three of the trekkers also spent a couple of enjoyable hours repairing and servicing some non-functioning solar lights that LED distributes, and we all were amazed by the solar reflecting panels used to boil our tea kettles!
It was such a rewarding and satisfying trip, I had forgotten how much it meant to me to be able to give something back. My heartfelt thanks go to all my helpers, especially the doctor and another trekker who helped me with my Diplomacy Course, as I can be a bit blunt at times!
And, of course thanks go to Val and all her team without whose help nothing would be possible…and for all the extra work ‘Helping With Glasses’ has created. In the end, we had run out of glasses, but were able to keep records and hopefully we will be able to send out what is needed next time.
And thanks to my husband who puts up with all the brainache this creates!
In summer 2022, Leeds medics George Thomas and James Peaty undertook their medical elective at the health post LED supports in Quisuar, in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. Here’s the report George prepared for us:
We really enjoyed our time at the clinic and want to thank the LED charity for giving us the opportunity to go and the local people around the clinic for being very welcoming. We went to the clinic in Quishaur near Huaraz for around a month. This clinic supports the health of the people in the area surrounding Quishaur.
The clinical part of the elective was very varied. Primarily it consisted of us working at the clinic. We would see people with the permanent nurse, Lary, for consultations in the clinic and go on home visits. Often it could be difficult for local people to get access to glasses, so on one occasion we also went to a neighbouring village to do an eye clinic. Furthermore we did lessons in English with the local school where we tried to incorporate teaching about health.
Often there was different health problems to what would be normal in the United Kingdom where both of us are currently at medical school. People would more likely to have late presentations of diseases which could make them more severe. Different medical conditions were also more prevalent for instance parasites were more common. At the clinic we had less access to the resources that would be expected in the UK for instance investigations such as bloods or scans therefore it was very important to work as a team doing the medical fundamentals of history taking and exam well. It was very useful for our training to be able to see conditions which would be less common in the UK and focus in on the core fundamentals of medicine.
The language barrier could also pose a challenge as both our Spanish is not the best. We have to thank both Claus, a local mountain guide, and Lary, the nurse, who we couldn’t have done without who helped with translation from Quechua to Spanish. Though by the end our Spanish had improved a lot and we also have to thank them for that!
It can be difficult for local people to get access to healthcare in the area around Quishuar therefore throughout my time there we realised the importance of clinics such as the one we were at to give medical support. It was a very humbling experience going to such a remote clinic and getting to help treat the local people. I was continually surprised; especially by some of the older people there, by how tough they were and their ability to carry on living quite physical lives with sometimes severe medical problems. Even so the local people were always very generous to me and James. One memorable experience was after a consultation one of the patients very kindly gave us some Guinea Pig which we had never tried before.
After the clinic we also had the opportunity to do some mountaineering in the region with Claus, a local mountain guide who also helped translate at the clinic. This was my first chance to do mountaineering and I really enjoyed it. It was challenging at times, for me especially so when I was trying to sleep at altitude. I was a bit out of breath and only managed to fall to sleep what felt like just before I had to wake up. We ended up going up Mount Urus and Mount Ishinca. It was a really great experience and has made me keen to do more in the future.
We both want to again thank Val and everyone at LED for what was a great experience at the clinic and we really appreciate the help from everyone who made it possible for us to go!