It wasn’t until we came to Ghandruk, a village of Gurung (Ghurkha) people, that I managed another interview. This is a large village, around 6000 people, with many challenges but very good community organisation. With early support from the Annapurna Conservation Area Programme (ACAP) they have a strong community forestry programme and other positive initiatives. Unfortunately the local ACAP building, like others in the region, was demolished by the Maoists a few years ago and the ACAP workers fled to Pokhara. A lot of good work has been undone through such actions.
Soon after we arrived a massive thunderstorm descended over the village. After the rain cleared we went for a walk, asking after local people who I might be able to interview. We were directed to Kisam Gurung. We met and talked with Kisam Gurung that afternoon and interviewed him the next morning. He is a local leader and lodge owner. He informed us of positive initiatives within Ghandruk, including on-going community engagement with the community forestry programme initiated by ACAP. With the building of the road through the Kali Gandaki there is already increased presence of trekkers in this village, and that is likely to increase as alternative trekking routes are used. How the locals manage such pressures will be vital to their future.
After talking with Kisam Gurung his eldest daughter, Alisha Gurung, took us on a quick tour of the village. Alisha is only 10 years old but clearly very bright, very socially aware and very strong minded. A future leader. A young tree that has potential to grow tall and strong. It was a pleasure to meet this family.
We then walked out to the road end at Birethanti and on to Pokhara.