Island travelers bring warmth to Nepal
When Susan Alford-Sandman heads off to Nepal to fulfill a longstanding travel dream later this month, she will take much more than her suitcase and hiking boots. The Vineyard Haven psychotherapist and her three off-Island traveling companions will bring duffle bags full of fleece clothing for children living in the harsh climate. And she is hoping that generous Vineyarders will add to her load.
Ms. Alford-Sandman has posted flyers asking Islanders to donate used polar fleece clothing, and has established a drop-off point at her Vineyard Haven office. Jackets, vests, pants, and fleece accessories such as gloves and hats are all welcome. They can be any size and can be used but must be in good condition.
"It's a very poor culture," she said, and described the climate in Nepal as cold and lifestyle as simple and harsh. "For me, taking this trip is stepping out of my life here and going into a world that's about as basic as life gets."
Ms. Alford-Sandman gives credit for the generous effort to Sally Hunsdorfer of Marion, her tour organizer. She said that Ms. Hunsdorfer, a former bookstore owner and the mother of two grown children, initiated the project several years ago after traveling to the Himalayas with her family. Since her first trip, she has returned again and again, with loads of warm fleece garments for delivery to families. More than simply bringing warm clothing, the Marion woman makes warm connections, establishing communication between children there and students near her home. She visits classrooms, telling the children about the Himalayas and the need there. Families have donated garments and students have made fleece hats for Nepalese youngsters.
Ms. Alford-Sandman hopes that her Island neighbors will be equally generous, delving into their closets and bureau drawers to find items that are no longer needed.
Ms. Alford-Sandman said the party will trek into the region around Mt. Everest, accompanied by sherpas who will carry not only their luggage and supplies but bags filled with donated clothes too. They will visit small villages, distributing the garments - and good will - at every stop.
Donations may be left by Feb. 20, 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday, Church & Main Natural Therapies, second floor, Church St., Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 508-693-0108.