Vanderhoof is the eighth-day mark of a Canadian man’s 4,000-kilometre biking journey this summer to gather support for Nepali villages devastated by earthquakes last year.
Stopping by Vanderhoof on Aug. 18, Sean Heakes began his cross-country trip in Jasper, passing through Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island to finish in Los Angeles by October.
Heakes is the global/bike ambassador for the Jasper and Nepal-based non-profit group Mountains of Relief. It was founded by Raj Ghimire, whose home village Lisakhani was one of the communities damaged by earthquakes in Nepal during 2015 spring. Heakes was trekking past the village weeks before the disaster happened.
“For eight years I’ve dreamt of attempting a cross-continent cycle touring trip,” he said. “When I think of how best to help other people in my bike ride, I think of Raj and his nonprofit.
“Cycle touring is a selfish event in which only I am gaining from this experience; hopefully I can make a positive impact.”
The non-profit organization is looking to rebuild a decimated elementary school that served 120 children in the southern foothills near Mount Everest. An eight-classroom school would cost $35,000 to construct.
“Through different fundraisers, MoR has already raised thousands of dollars which have gone towards clearing the land for foundations and the construction of a water system,” he said. “We have also involved the community in the rebuilding process by employing locals in land clearing to keep the money within the local economy.”
Though Heakes backpacked around the world and cycled from Jasper to Banff in the past, this trip would be his longest cycling trip to date.
“The road has not always cooperated, but the drivers have,” he said. “I’m here to spread the word that a year after the quakes, they are still in really bad conditions.”
More information on the project can be found on www.mountainsofrelief.org.
In Nepal during April and May 2015, an earthquake and its aftershock of over 7 in magnitude led to thousands of people killed, millions of homes destroyed, and eight thousand schools damaged.