By Elli Ioakim
It started as the unfulfilled dream of a friend who passed away and led to a journey from the seaside of Cyprus to a village on Mount Everest, taking in a bit of volunteering, a lot of building and now a photography exhibition.
Four years after the Gorkha Earthquake destroyed the village of Takure in 2015, volunteers are still climbing the famous mountain in Nepal to help rebuild the village and restore faith. Cypriot volunteer with Conscious Impact organisation Vasilia Vasiliou didn’t just honour her friend Stalo by experiencing her unlived dream while volunteering on the mountain but changed her view on life.
During her time there, Vasilia captured the scenery and everyday life of Takure and another Nepali village called Kathmandu in 1,000 pictures. Her determination to show Cypriot society the reality of village life in rural Nepal means this weekend she will host a workshop and exhibition at Lovelight in Limassol.
The two-week expedition in February was tough with the 50 international volunteers plodding on through rainy weather and mud to help better life for the community. With the help of civil engineers, the volunteers constructed ecologically conscious homes made out of earthquake-proof building materials. The volunteers were involved with teaching the locals ways to cultivate coffee and superfoods to provide them with a lifetime’s way of earning money. Educational programmes, teaching in schools and visits to an orphanage were also undertaken by the volunteers.
Vasilia said that she hopes that her workshop will provide people with the realisation that we’re not the only people in the world. “I’m sad that it’s over because I’ve learnt so much. Apart from the knowledge on building and superfood cultivation I was in close communication with the locals and the other volunteers. We did everything together and they felt like family. I’m sad but I’m sure that I will do it again. I wanted to share with the world the things I witnessed in Nepal and Takure. I wanted to share the images and the feelings I experienced,” she said.
“Every picture is unique to me. The exhibition will include portraits of people that went through hell after the tragic earthquake. They show the life lessons of how people can be happy in nature with so little and how they don’t let go of hope.”
Her photos will be exhibited along with handmade wooden crafts made by Takure children and her father to set the atmosphere of the volunteers’ work in Nepal and the bamboo constructions they helped build.
“I’m really happy that I got to experience it and I think people should occasionally leave behind the comforts of their daily life and do little or big things to help their fellow humans. You help yourself at the same time. When people learn how to communicate with body language (as she did to teach the children) you realise that there are no borders and the whole world becomes our home. It was difficult but once you experience the power that lies within people the lifting weights, bending, building stops becoming a chore.”
Photography exhibition by Vasilia Vasiliou after volunteering at Takure village on Mt Everest after the 2015 earthquakes. July 13-14. Lovelight, Limassol. 6pm-12am. Tel: 96-349216