Adam Dargavel and Matthew Whelan had the opportunity to experience Nepal in a way that most people don’t.
After starting in Kathmandu, the two Victoria photographers decided to do an 18-day-long hike of the Manaslu Circuit and the Tsum Valley.
They needed a guide – that’s when they found Rammani Rijal and Sambhu Subedi.
“We got along right away. Ram was a really nice guy, very personable and welcoming and we had an immediately good feeling with him,” said Dargavel. “Sambhu is this young, king of wiry, very energetic guy. He was so positive and always uplifting.”
They hired Sambhu to help them make the trek through the circuit.
Before the journey, Ramm invited the Canadian duo to his home to celebrate Dashain, a 15-day-long national festival in Nepal.
“It’s kind of amazing and says a lot about who they are,” said Dargavel. “It would be like inviting a stranger to my house for Christmas and letting them stay there, giving them presents and letting them partake in their whole holiday.
“His mom looked after us like we were her own sons . . . they were constantly making sure we were okay.”
They slept in a bed above the family ox and shortly after started the hike.
Along the way, they became close friends with Sambhu, often playing Nepalese card games and learning about his culture. They even took to calling each other “bro.”
That trip was in October 2013, but the travellers remained close with their guide.
So when, Dargavel and Whelan heard about the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that has killed more than 4,000 people, they immediately sprang into action.
Dargavel managed to get in contact with both Rammani and Sambhu, who are from the Dhading district, one of the hardest hit regions in Nepal, through Facebook.
“Ram, his wife and kid don’t have a home anymore, which is hard to imagine. I’m just sad for them,” said Whelan.
The duo have since set up a Go Fund Me campaign (at gofundme.com/sympdw) to help raise money for the family.
“We knew they were going to have to rebuild because their houses are destroyed,” said Dargavel. “I feel like some people who want to donate want to know exactly where their money is going, You can put a face to who you’re helping.”
So far, they have surpassed their original goal of $500 and have a new goal of $5,000. They raised just over $1,500.
Dargavel and Whelan’s campaign is just one of many local efforts raising money to help those affected by the earthquake.
A local video game designer is donating all proceeds to the effort.