Bringing Progress to Paradise: What I Got from Giving to a Mountain Village in Nepal

Jeff Rasley
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Genre: Travel. Format: eBook. Views: This Week 69, Total 1184.
What does it mean to bring progressschools, electricity, roads,
running waterto paradise? Can our consumer culture and desire to "do
good" really be good for a community that has survived contentedly for
centuries without us?

In October 2008, climbing expedition
leader and attorney, Jeffrey Rasley, led a trek to a village in a remote
valley in the Solu region of Nepal named Basa. His group of three
adventurers was only the third group of white people ever seen in this
village of subsistence farmers. What he found was people thoroughly
unaffected by Western consumer-culture values. They had no running
water, electricity, or anything that moves on wheels. Each family lived
in a beautiful, hand-chiseled stone house with a flower garden. Beyond
what they already had, it seemed all they wanted was education for the
children. He helped them finish a school building already in progress,
and then they asked for help getting electricity to their village.

Bringing Progress to Paradise
describes Rasley's transformation from adventurer to committed
philanthropist. We are attracted to the simpler way of life in these
communities, and we are changed by our experience of it. They are
attracted to us, because we bring economic benefits. Bringing Progress to Paradise
offers Rasley's critical reflection on the tangled relationship between
tourists and locals in "exotic" locales and the effect of Western
values on some of the most remote locations on earth.

"This is an inspiring and thoughtful book, presenting - in graphic
detail - the author's treks to Basa 6, a tiny village in the Himalayas,
to bring a school and hydroelectricity to the villagers, out of love for
their beautiful culture and warm receptivity to his efforts. But the
central issue ... not resolved in the pages of the book, demanding a
sequel, is the question of whether the "Progress"... might lead to some
degree of corruption of their way of life, a consumerist,
Western-oriented degradation of a spiritual depth and sensitivity to
their surroundings - the beautiful Himalayas, their tradition of
flower-beds around every home. Will the flowers spoil? Or is that a
truly paternalistic question - leaving a "quaint" village in periodic
food shortages, a precious museum for the rare Westerner to come across,
off the beaten path of the Sherpa-guided mountaineering treks? The
question is partially answered: he determines to go ahead with
fund-raising efforts, since the villagers clearly want the benefits
brought by Internet-capable education for their children, and who is he,
after all, to deny what he can provide? But the question remains open. I
can hardly wait for the necessary follow-up in the next book of the
series." John McLaughlin, Phd.

Bringing Progress to Paradise is the first in the
sequence of books about Rasley's adventures in the Himalayas and his
unique relationship with the Edenic village of Basa, Nepal.
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