3 Sisters Adventure Trekking: Changing the Game Through Sport

gamechangers-logoApril 7, 2009 How can you empower women, make change happen with a quick click and take that Nike swoosh to the next level of youth and cultural change?

Those of you who have ‘friended’ me on Facebook already know I’ve been championing my WLW (Women Leaders for the World) gal pal, Lucky Chhetri from Nepal who co-founded 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking, a sustainable geotourism project that literally enables women to climb out of poverty (and even provides child care and education for the trekkers in training!)

Right now I’d love for you to jump on over to Nike’s GameChangers to VOTE before April 15th, as they’ve culled 13 global contenders from over 400 entries and 50 different countries…and Lucky Chhetri’s 3 Sisters Trekking is one of ’em! Every little bit helps these women scale new mountains of opportunity in Nepal.

The other contenders are watch-worthy too, so pop over, cast your vote and YOU decide “who’s got game!” (Tip: You must pick exactly three candidates or your vote won’t be counted)

brickfish

Nike sure seems to be changing their OWN game considerably, since today SMP announced Nike’s teaming with BrickFish and YouthNoise to ask KIDS how their athletic passions might change the world, posting photos of their “What Do You Play For?” stories in a Flickr/Twitter mashup. (interesting ‘viral mapping’ graphic gizmo tracks outreach)

Sheesh. All this BEFORE wrapping up this week’s Nike ‘Sport for Change’ contest with Lucky’s crew and the Ashoka Changemakers?

Clearly these pairings show off some Nike branding brains leveraging ‘change’ momentum to rebound from their sweatshop stigma of yesteryear and ‘walk the walk’ showing how much THEY have changed, too…

Gotta hand it to ’em.

Nike’s Game Changers have universal appeal.

lucky

I’m admittedly biased on one of my three picks for Game Changers, as I know Lucky Chhetri personally and can attest to her ‘stick to it’ tenacity…Nike and Ashoka have an inspirational winner there.

Lucky’s laser-focused, resilient and ambitious with a powerful calm that surrounds her. She listens more than speaks and I learned a lot from her gracious style and easygoing manner. Lucky and I shared the stage among the 22 delegates in 2007 at the GWLN Women Worthy of Support summit and I was inspired and humbled by her amazing ability to articulate her vision…and all this with English as her second language.

She detailed how she was bringing revenue to the poorest areas of Nepal, enhancing and protecting local environment and culture while leveraging the positive aspects of tourism to create equity—By training marginalized women as trekking guides for adventure travel to become professionally skilled conduits for change in eco-tourism!

Out of Nepal’s 600+ trekking agencies, 3 Sisters is the only 100% woman-owned and operated agency, training and supplying woman guides to address the needs and interests of women travelers.

Now, why does all this matter you say?

girl-effect-videoLet’s go back to that powerful Girl Effect video and review a tad…For a decade now Lucky’s nonprofit, Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) has trained 400 women trekking guides—in violation of the tradition that only men can be guides.

“At first, everyone was against us. They said, ‘You are destroying the girls, taking them the wrong direction.”

Nevertheless, by 24, Lucky was trekkin’ on…a graduate of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, India and now known for scaling some of the highest mountains in the world.

3sistersSisters Lucky, Dicky and Nicky (retro flashback of Huey, Dewey & Louie) are a trio of AMAZING Nepali passionistas and ecotourism pioneers who have turned their love of sport (hiking the Himalayas) to create a “by women, for women” business that has vaulted them onto the global media stage.

It doesn’t get much better than THIS ‘circle of life’…lifting rural women out of poverty as second-class citizens, to be independent, self-supporting, confident community members while engaging in low-impact tourism without losing indigenous culture?

Wow. What’s not to like?

This is “The Girl Effect” in action.

lucky-groupNow the 3 Sisters just need to do some capacity building (ahem, tell me about it!) then scale, fund, and further expand their vision to train in other viable countries like Peru, perhaps. (I’ve always wanted to hike Machu Picchu)

Lucky exemplifies using ‘the power of media for positive change’…Last year 3 Sisters won the National Geographic GeoTourism Challenge to sustain, enhance, and preserve local culture in place…and the Travel & Leisure Global Vision Award, and now they’re after so the Nike Game Changers competition in a classic ‘inch by inch’ gaining of ground just like scaling a mountain…

The more people hear about the awesome and inspiring work 3 Sisters are doing, the more mother-daughter treks, coming of age/rites of passage hikes and midlife milestone markers start to surface building bridges between countries and friendships among globetrotting women of all ages and stages!

(Photo Gallery of 3 Sisters’ domestic child labor rescue, eco-awareness, medical trekker training and more)

lucky-peaceThat’s Lucky in the middle in red…(at left)

Trained trekking guides are there to encourage and support both literally and figuratively on these all female sojourns, and define guide on their website as “friend, guardian, teacher, student, advisor, attendant and sometimes mother.” Again…the girl effect…rippling through entire communities to bring hope, sustainability, courage, and confidence that impacts entire regions with ‘yes we can’ attitude. It’s sublime.

As for Nike?

Nike has made some masterful changes in their brand transparency and auditing of labor practices and social responsibility (granted, they needed them desperately!) and many guarded partners, including YouthNoise have been opening up the debate fair and square, such as this post, “Has Nike REALLY reformed?’

I’ve been keeping tabs on Nike’s Corporate Social Responsibility newswire profile ever since their eco-brand ‘Considered’ started using lofty acronyms like EPMs (environmentally preferred materials) with all their BTUs and sustainable materials/climate change chatter.

worldchanging-logoPlus, our youth crew had embarked upon collecting hundreds of old sneakers to recycle into playground cushioning as part of one of their eco-efforts taking baby steps toward worldchanging. (great zine with excellent content, and a book I still have yet to read, btw) Anyway, I want to make sure Nike’s new leaf turned over continues to be green…as we have lots of kids really wanting to believe corporations can change their stripes and become benevolent green zebras…so to speak.

I’m cautiously optimistic.

Apparently virtually all of the Nike trainers are PVC-free now, and design-wise their 25-year old “Pegasus” shoe (which Abi Silvester at “HippyShopper” on ethical consumerism pithily claims conjures visions of Harry Potter) is the first of its kind to employ their Considered Design which seems to show they’re translating manufacturing standards into   mainstream relevance.

Nike’s own site of course reminds that they introduced a complete line of Olympic apparel for athletes in Beijing that was made from 100 percent recycled polyester, and that they’re doing serious work in girls’ empowerment ALONG with all the change-maker motivation…

So I’d say this earns them a ‘comeback kid award for brand brilliance from this youth focused cycle-breaker mindset…

gamechangers

After all, like the ‘do-overs’ on a school playground, mistakes are meant to be learning experiences.

Nike’s now copped to full transparency on their site with a complete list of Nike suppliers worldwide…they’ve kept a keen eye toward building the brand on being agents of change and have been instrumental in giving adolescent girls a voice in uncommon places…like the  first ever plenary session of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting.

“Including girls in this year’s agenda marks a real turning point in the world’s understanding of adolescent girls” potential contribution to their own communities and to the global economy,” said Mark Parker, President and CEO of NIKE, Inc.

“When given an opportunity to participate, girls are a powerful force for social and economic change. That’s exactly what we need right now.”

Obviously, this strikes a huge chord with me; sure doesn’t appear Nike’s just brandwashing…CSRWire reports from Davos 2009 that panelists explored the dearth of investment in adolescent girls in developing countries, which economists even called “an irrational investment gap,” and they also discussed the impact of investing (and NOT investing!) in girls via developing economies.

In essence, this means they’re indeed focusing on ‘the girl effect,’ so my fingers are crossed that groups like 3 Sisters thrive and multiply.

“We’ll never be able to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty if we do not address the issues girls face,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank.

“Directing resources to address gender equity, universal education, child and maternal health is a start, but the success of reaching every goal is dependent on the critical well-being, safety and participation of the worlds’ girls.”

So brava, Nike, for using your global clout wisely, and building your brand back from the ashes of flamethrowers…AND for supporting agents of change like Lucky Chhetri and her sisters who clearly epitomize ALL of these goals at once. Vote now.

Help change the name of the game for women worldwide!

p.s. On a personal/karma note:

When Lucky Chhetri and I said goodbye in the summer of 2007 I remember giving her my favorite handmade glass bead necklace by a local jewelry artist friend of mine, Claire Cherin, because the central bead swirled in purple and gold and it reminded me of the globe, of the earth, and of how we are all one scaling change schlepping up our various mountaintops.

women-who-light-the-dark.jpg

It symbolized the global unity of our vision of what we could achieve together as ‘one world’ and the bead itself blurred those boundaries with a simplicity and elegance that was profound.

Last week, I ran into Claire at our middle school cultural fair and told her I’d given away almost all of my jewelry to my GWLN sisters that year and that it’s now scattered hither and yon from Pakistan to Kenya with all kinds of fabulous “Women Who Light the Dark.”

Claire was wide-eyed and said it “gave her chills” just knowing her work was somewhere atop a Himalayan mountain…

I can’t wait to tell her that it’s with Lucky herself in Pokhara, that she’s scaling mountains full steam, and most of all…that she can help Lucky with a quick click to ‘pay it forward’ and feel that bond from continent to continent, contributing to the girl effect with a click!

Here’s more about Lucky Chhetri and the amazing work of 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking. Namaste!

GameChangers Video: Grace in Rwanda; Using Sports to Heal

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Comments

  1. Dear Amy,

    Thank you so much for your great support for all our program. It has been done very well, I am glad to meet you and to be your friend.
    It might be strange that I am in face book and receiving messages but every time I enter they says my login/ password are wrong. I might forgot my password to re visit there so I could not response from there.
    Today I will try to fix my problem with my volunteer friend see how will go.
    Once again thank you very much.

    Warm regards,
    Lucky

  2. See what I mean, folks? Facebook in the mountain tops of Nepal? Language barriers to boot? And this woman is tackling it all! Lucky, you rock!! 🙂 Hugs, Amy

  3. Not sure if you have the wrong blog here or not, Bryan, as we never disable comments! Fire away?! What is it that is on your mind?

  4. ABSOLUTELY THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE THAT LUCKY CHHETRI IS ONE OF THE GAMECHANGER WINNERS! WOOHOO!!! CONGRATS, TO ALL 3 SISTERS ADVENTURE TREKKING!

    Here’s Lucky’s note:

    Namaste!

    “Dear Amy and Jasmin, I am doing very well and want to share you our joy to be a winner of Game Changer’s competition. Thank you very much for all of your votes and support to win this competition. We are very fortunate to have helping hands like you to expose our work through media. I highly appreciate your kind support.”

    And the official EWN/Gamechangers Announcement

    “Empowering Women of Nepal and 3 Sisters is honored to have been voted as one of the winners of Nike and Ashoka’s Game Changers competition! The award includes a $5,000 grant and Nike’s recognition and support. This award is a joint effort through Nike and Ashoka’s Changemakers with the goal to focus attention on the challenges facing women in sports and to identify organizations and projects that are utilizing innovative strategies and solutions to overcome these setbacks. EWN is proud to be counted among those who are working for women’s empowerment in sports. Thank you to all those who took the time to vote for us! Your support is greatly appreciated and your vote is helping to provide greater inclusion to women within sports worldwide”

    Lucky

    Amy Jussel’s last blog post..When Art Meets Earth: Wyland’s Ocean Murals Inspire Kids to Care

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