“I have learned so many useful skills this week!”, said Sunil Gurung with a broad smile at the end of the Training of Trainers (ToT) that was organised in Kathmandu and Kakani in August. This second ToT of the year gave 21 trekking guides the opportunity to acquire valuable knowledge and relevant technical skills in leadership, safety, navigation, rope work and other matters crucial for a Mountain Leader. These guides had been selected by their trekking agency on the basis of their qualifications and experience, and given the responsibility to teach to their fellow guides what they would learn during the HITT training.
Karma Sherpa Lama, managing Director of Exodus Treks and Expeditions, one of the major trekking agencies of Nepal, contacted the HITT team after he had heard about the first ToT organised in January 2013. The training of his staff being one of its main corporate priorities, he showed a great interest in participating in the programme. Three of his senior guides eventually joined the ToT in August and then delivered the training within the company. Karma accepted to share with us his feelings about the programme during a short interview:
HITT: What do your clients expect from your guides in terms of services? Has it changed over the years?
Karma Sherpa Lama: The profile of our clients has not really changed but their expectations tend to be higher and broader. They often ask the guides about the local flora, fauna, agriculture, people, culture, etc. And they have a lot of questions! This is why the more training for our guides, the better for our clients.
HITT: What do you think about the training that was delivered to your guides through the HITT programme?
KSL: It has been very important and useful for them, first of all because it covered a lot of topics, it was really complete and sharp. I think, for example, about the navigation course, something that is unfortunately not enough studied in Nepal because of the characteristics of trekking routes in the country, although it seems fundamental to me. It comes especially handy when you trek in remote and isolated areas. For many of them it was the first time they had the opportunity to study map reading and navigation and they were all extremely motivated to learn about it.
I also think that it was the right decision to organise this training in the field, in a practical way and in real conditions. I have seen that the teaching methods that were used were innovative and very efficient. To summarize, I think that this training is positive for everybody, it is a win-win-win situation! Guides can use this knowledge in any situation and at any time (during an earthquake or an avalanche for example), clients get a good return for value and our company improves the quality of its services through increased security and safety.
HITT: Do you think you obtain more benefits from trained guides? Do you see training as a way to give them better economic conditions?
KSL: It is of course better for the company but the guides are the ones who get the major benefits. For example, thanks to their improved skills and recognition, they get more opportunities to work in India when it is the low touristic season here in Nepal. Besides, the training can offer them a better income, from the company and directly from the clients in tips, but it is also a way to accelerate their professional evolution. In my company, the normal scheme is to start as a porter, evolve to kitchen assistant, then to cook, then to assistant guide and finally to guide. Training helps them evolve faster. Moreover, many people from my current staff are the children of former staff. Working with families allows us to maintain the social and professional structure of “the mountains”, giving them opportunities of social evolution, which is also economically wise.
HITT Nepal had by the end of October 2013 trained 67 trainers and 347 beneficiaries in the trekking sector since the beginning of the programme.
To see the video of the launching ceremony of the HITT programme for Mountain leaders, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL7EgRfskgA&feature=youtu.be