Hi, I'm Deb, a writer and Search & Rescue volunteer from Flagstaff, Arizona. I'll be spending three months in Nepal from May through July, 2010, to learn about the only SAR team in the country and the many lives they've touched, so I can return home and write a book about them. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the book will go to the Nepalese rescue team.
This is a project I'm very excited about. Here, let me tell you more about it....
The Origins Of The Rescue Squad:
Twenty years ago this past October, Dutchman Ingo Schnabel, founder of the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal (HRDSN), was sitting on his couch in Maastricht, eating potato chips and drinking a beer, when he saw a television program about the devastating aftermath of an earthquake.
Ingo says, "I was just 41 years old and had traveled half the world. I had been a researcher in Africa, a dog trainer for the Imperial Iranian Air Force, and a Biology teacher in Tehran ... 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 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 fundraising and their training ... A year later, on October 8, 1989, I arrived with these dogs in Nepal and have never left the country since."
Since its formation in 1989, the HRDSN has provided Search & Rescue and medical aid when trekkers have been reported missing or injured and in the event of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides, and flash flooding. The team is able to provide helicopter rescue and tracking dogs to almost any area of Nepal.
HRDSN members have trained in a range of disciplines, including rock rescue, firefighting, logistics, and wilderness medicine.
The team now also has a Junior Rescue Squad. This follows a ten-year hiatus during The People's War in Nepal from 1996 until 2006, when HRDSN was unable to continue training new disaster relief workers. Currently, only 18 staff members and 9 Nepalese volunteers remain, while the goal is to have a minimum of 100 workers on standby in the team's mobile Disaster Relief & Medical Aid Unit.
The HRDSN's main headquarters is in Shyauli Bazaar, Lamjung District, in the center of Nepal, where they have a dog breeding and training center. Team members often work at an altitude of 18,000 feet or more and in harsh conditions, from jungle gorges to flooded plains, avalanche zones, and even large-scale traffic accidents.
Due to a lack of national infrastructure and government support, the HRDSN has provided the only medical disaster relief to poor villages.
In addition to founding HRDSN and the hospitals, Ingo Schnabel also started a very special school in a remote area of Nepal--a school which doesn't adhere to Nepal's caste system, where children learn in a low-stress environment free of the gender prejudice and violence found in government-run schools. I encourage you to view this five-minute video about the Riverside School at http://www.youtube.com/watch..., in which you'll hear from Ingo himself.
The Book Project:
It was Ingo who contacted me in November, 2009, asking if I'd be interested in and adventurous enough to come to Nepal to learn about him and his squad and then write a book about the HRDSN. As an active Search & Rescue volunteer myself as well as a writer, it didn't take me long to sign on.
To that end, I'm seeking funding for my travel to, from and within Nepal, as well as for equipment including a camera, a laptop, and a voice recorder. I will use any leftover funding to promote the book, including traveling to give slide presentations. Half the proceeds from book sales will go to the HRDSN, which currently exists and operates solely on donations from supporters around the world.
I'll spend my time in Nepal--from early May through the end of July--getting to know Ingo and the other members of his search and rescue squad, both human and canine, gathering information and stories so I can return to my home in Flagstaff, Arizona, and write the book.
You can find out more about my Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal book project and view additional photos and videos at http://www.squidoo.com/Nepal-Himalaya-Rescue-Dog-Squad. In addition to project updates posted here, I will also be blogging about the experience before, during and after the trip on my Search & Rescue blog at http://debssarstories.blogspot.com.
The squad's official website is located at http://www.sardogsnepal.asia.
(Above photos: Copyright © 2009 - 2010 HRDSN. All rights reserved.
Top: Qualified trainers from abroad volunteer for medical and technical disaster aid. Bottom: HRDSN squad members and their K9 companions)
Have comments or questions about this project? Please pay a visit to the comments section here or feel free to email me. I'll answer either way.
- (89 days)