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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A SAR-Related Adventure In Nepal (And A Book To Follow)

So, I'm not sure how many of you who read this blog also follow Deb's Search & Rescue Stories (or any of my other online ramblings), but JUST in case you don't, I wanted to let you know about my upcoming trip to Nepal, where I'll be hanging out with the country's only SAR team for three months beginning in May, 2010. (And if you've heard about this umpteen times already, I apologize.)

Anyhow, last November, the founder of the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal, Dutchman Ingo Schnabel, contacted me to see if I'd be interested in writing a book about them. This would mean traveling halfway round the world, of course ... which took a few minutes of consideration on my part.

Twenty years ago this past October, Ingo followed through on his dream of starting a SAR team in Nepal. Ingo explains how this came about in a post on Nepal Friends in Times of Need. He wrote:

"I was sitting in Maastricht in the Netherlands in front of the Television, a beer in one hand and potato chips in the other. I was just 41 years old and had traveled half the world. I was a researcher in Africa, a dog trainer (Imperial Iranian Air Force) and Biology teacher in Tehran, then called the Empire of Iran, where Shah-Han-Shah Reza Pahlevi , the powerful Emperor, crumbled at that time and I had to leave.

"Back in the Netherlands, I tried my best to settle down, and I got fat and lazy. Then suddenly, in front of that TV, I saw a program about the misery after the earthquake in Darjeeling and Dharan in 1988. I remembered that I had promised to my Tibetan friend Lobsang that I would come to India and Nepal and start a dog breeding center for earthquake relief. I jumped up, switched off the TV and selected six dogs from different local breeding centers and started fund raising and their training in Maastricht at the motorcycle road race trajectory in the forest. A year later, on October 8, 1989, I arrived with these dogs in Nepal and have never left the country since."

During those 20 years in Nepal, Ingo and the team have started hospital camps in remote areas of the country and even a special school that doesn't adhere to Nepal's caste system. (See the video below.) They respond to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides and flashfloods, mass casualty and medical situations, and to reports of missing and injured trekkers. The more I learn about Ingo and the HRDSN, the more fascinated and excited I become about the trip. I only hope I can do their story justice. I'll write the book when I return to Arizona.

Here's that video about the school Ingo started....

To read more about my upcoming trip and perhaps consider a pledge towards the project in exchange for a signed copy of the book (once published) and other backer rewards, visit my Kickstarter page. There, you can also read a number of project updates and HRDSN member introductions.

While I'm in Nepal, I won't be able to keep up on this blog (so if anyone is interested in guest posts, let me know!), but I will be blogging about the experience and the exploits of the HRDSN on Deb's Search & Rescue Stories and posting updates on my project's Facebook fan page.

Related article:
My Adventure in Nepal

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