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Montana women to bring help and hope to Nepal - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Montana women to bring help and hope to Nepal

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Erin O'Reilly, Angela Hawkaluk, Lauren Lofts and a friend are planning to take the trip of a lifetime in May. (MTN News photo) Erin O'Reilly, Angela Hawkaluk, Lauren Lofts and a friend are planning to take the trip of a lifetime in May. (MTN News photo)
Four Missoula friends are headed to Mount Everest base camp in May. (Jill Valley/MTN News photo) Four Missoula friends are headed to Mount Everest base camp in May. (Jill Valley/MTN News photo)
Nepal has been slow to repair itself after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the area in April 2015. Nepal has been slow to repair itself after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the area in April 2015.
MISSOULA -

Nepal is one of the poorest countries on Earth, so when a group of friends decided to travel there to see the Himalayas, they didn’t just want to take in the scenery, they wanted to make a difference and show the people who live there they’re not alone.

It’s a sight that stops you in your tracks and might make you cry, and not just because you’re a little light headed. That first look at Mount Everest among the other towering Himalayan peaks is something to behold. 

You fly halfway around the world to get there and start walking. Four Missoula friends are headed to Mount Everest base camp in May for one incredible adventure.

“So many people have this bucket list or they talk about making trips or say we should do this or that but then it never happens," Lauren Lofts said. "So I’ve been working on making it happen. If we say we are going to do it then let’s just do it.”

Erin O'Reilly, Angela Hawkaluk, Lauren and their friend Shaela are preparing for what they believe will be a life changing adventure. But they’re not  just going to Nepal the thrill of the trek. As they train and pack and plan, they’re also raising money to help a mountain village rebuild after the devastating 2015 earthquake.

“Every time we travel somewhere, we gain experience and perspective and different insights that makes us who we are. So this is an opportunity to give back to the area and the people. A tangible way of giving back and saying thanks," O'Reilly said.

Nepal has been slow to repair itself after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the area in April 2015. When MTN's Jill Valley visited last fall, she saw ancient temples in rubble or are in a state of repair. But the repairs seen were happening in the big city of Kathmandu where things happen faster.

The quake also ripped apart mountain villages in the Himalayan foothills. Through the Trek for Homes in Nepal organization, the women are raising $2,000 to build a new home for one family.

“We have so much. We are so blessed. $2,000 to put a shelter over someone’s head -- and not just a tarp or a piece of tin. It’s such a culture shock but it also makes you step back and ask how am I living and you can really grow from that," Lofts said.

Trekking and climbing bring money into the Nepal economy as people from all over the world come here to walk among the world’s highest mountains.

The generosity of these Americans from Montana will hopefully inspire others to take a closer look at their impact on the world, "maybe we’ll inspire other people to follow in our tracks," Hawkaluk said. "And whether they do the trek or participate in the fundraising or make efforts toward that area.”

The women are giving their money to help rebuild a village where the quake destroyed 92 homes. Only 14 have been rebuilt. They have enough for one house and hope to raise enough for one more.

Click here for more information on how you can help the four women's cause.

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