Kathmandu:

The act of giving brings a nice feeling in us,” says BBC Radio presenter Steve Carver, who is the brain behind the one-of-a-kind philanthropic tour programme named ‘Angel Holidays’.

In this two-week-long tour the participating tourists will not only experience the various regions and cultures of Nepal but will also help improve the lives of orphans in Nepal.

Ethical business

Carver first visited Nepal three years ago to do a story on the depleting vulture population. Like many foreigners, Carver developed a special liking for this country and its people, but what sets him apart from the rest is that he is back with a unique venture.

“In England, we have this concept called ‘ethical business’ where it’s not only about making money but also about doing something positive for society,” he says. During his first visit he felt this urge to bring this concept to Nepal.

He noticed many tourists in Nepal and also a lot of orphanages so he decided to merge this two and thus Angel Holidays was born. “It’s a win-win situation,” he added.

A part of the tour fare will be going towards helping orphans at an orphanage here.

The first tour is taking place this April, which includes 20 British tourists including an 84-year-old woman. Carver admits that along with excitement, he is a little nervous as the trip is actually taking place now.

Encompassing diversity

The philanthropic contribution is not the only noble factor. The whole tour has been designed to give the tourists a holistic Nepali experience. The itinerary of the tour includes stops at all three regions of Nepal — from the architecturally rich durbar squares of Kathmandu Valley to places with religious significances like Swayambunath and Boudha to jungles of Chitwan and the majestic Himalayas, the tourists will witness various colours and faces that constitute Nepal.

Carver points out that for many foreigners, a trip to Nepal means trekking and they often miss out on the rich cultural aspect of the country. “We want these tourists to get first-hand experience of Nepali culture, lifestyle and the geographical diversity,” he adds.

The group has hired guides, who Carver himself has interviewed, to can conduct the tours.

Their group also includes a monk and Carver will be travelling with the group.

This tour also intends to show tourists the way people in Nepal live today rather than just showing them landmarks and telling them the historical background. Tourists will get time to explore the places all by themselves and also to mingle with the locals.

Bringing them together

The firsthand experience policy also applies to the cause these tourists are supporting. The members of the trip will visit the orphanage at Duwakot and will hand over goodie bags bought through their contribution to the children. “This helps the tourists know how their money is being spent and also know the faces whom they are helping,” Carver adds.

Pabitra Bishwakarma, who is handling the budget for this, says that they have focused on the basic necessities plus other items necessary for the overall development of a child. “Steve and I first make a list of things and then take suggestions from people at the orphanage to understand their needs,” she says.

Along with food, clothing and stationery, items like musical instruments and sports goods are included on their list.

At present there are 27 children in the orphanage. Bishwakarma says that the children have also prepared special programme to entertain their foreign guests.

Both Carver and Bishwakarma are aware that with getting such help regularly the children are at the risk of being dependent on it and they already have a plan to deal with this. “We have set up a chicken farm near the orphanage and on the same day we will release chicks in the farm in front of the tourists. The children will be looking after the farm. This will help them understand that you need to work to earn a living,” she added.

All about good feeling

The support of various local partners like Royal Mount Trekking has been integral in making Carver’s idea a reality. “I shared my idea with people whom I met here and they got interested and came aboard. Now it’s a team work,” he added.

The best thing about the holiday Carver believes is the experience that one gathers and memories one takes back. And the team of Angel Holidays aims at providing an enriching experience to all its patrons. “Once they complete this tour, we want them to feel that it was not just another holiday but a unique experience where they helped change someone’ life. We want both the children and the tourists to have beautiful memories of the whole experience.”