I’ve been awaiting this news for a long time! Yesterday I got an email from Save the Children updating me in regards to the fundraising dollars the 7 Summits Project had contributed towards a project in Nepal. Well, over the last 6 months, they’ve finally been put to use. I’ve copied out the full details of the email below..
Education Project Nepal
Location: Nepal – Nawalparasi district
Main objectives of the Project and achievements so far:
Training for teachers on literacy boost to improve their teaching skills
A total of 13 teachers (Female-4 and Male-9) from 12 different schools participated in the training program.
Prior to receiving the training, teachers normally used rote method to teach children in schools. However, after receiving the training, teachers are now feeling more confident in their roles as teachers and are using different teaching materials to teach children in classrooms.
The project plans to engage in the following activities in the next quarter:
Learning education materials support
The project provided various kinds of books to the project supported school – educational books, reading skill development books, and story books.
As per plan, the project provided different kinds of teaching materials to teachers. The project also organised an orientation session to orient teachers on the use of these teaching materials. The project will ensure that teachers continue to use the teaching materials in the next quarter as well. The project will monitor the classroom activities to ensure this.
School community members (Child Clubs and Parent-Teacher Group) implement initiatives to support attendance improvements
Enhanced physical environment of school
Construction of new two-room building
The construction of a new two-room building was completed. The inauguration ceremony to celebrate
the construction of the new building was held on November 16, 2016.
Outdoor playing materials support and drainage maintenance
The project has reached 78 Girls and 73 Boys, 32 Females and 76 Males during the financial year.
To say I was pretty excited to receive the news is a bit of an understatement. It’s great to see those fundraising dollars put to use in a way that will hopefully provide a brighter future to those in need.
This marks the end of my journey with Save the Children. From next year (after the Tour For A Cure) I will be focusing on working directly with local Nepalese to improve education standards in one of the most impoverished nations on Earth. This will continue until I accomplish what I set out to at the start of this project. I will let you know the details a little way down the track and I hope you will all join me.
To those who have contributed in some form, thanks once again for your support with the 7 Summits Project, I hope you’re satisfied that your contribution has gone to a worthy cause.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”- Dr Seuss
Dr Seuss was one wise motherfucker.
Anyone who knows me or has read this blog probably realises it doesn’t take much to get me ranting and raving about how important reading is.
There are very few activities I feel have as much to offer as reading a book (depending on the book of course..not sure if there’s a whole lot of benefit in reading much of the modern romantic fantasy bandied about). There are positive correlations between time spent reading and income, social IQ, academic success, resistance to depression and even mathematics ability.
Instead of harping on any longer, I’ll give you 8 damn good reasons why reading benefits you..
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. –P.J. O’Rourke
I don’t believe anything stimulates the mind the way reading does.
Particularly if you are reading an in-depth book or a topic that lies outside your current knowledge sphere, you are forced to stop regularly and consider the arguments and points of view that are presented to you. This promotes critical thinking, the act of digesting the information that has been presented and deliberating over how it fits into your world view.
I think this particularly applies to biographies.
Essentially, you are digesting a condensed version of a persons entire life, the experiences they’ve had, their successes, their short-comings and the lessons they’ve learnt. All this is passed on to you.
You have the ability to learn from some of the most incredible individuals throughout history, absorbing their wisdom as you read, often directly from their own thoughts.
In this way, you can be mentored by Bill Gates, Michael Jordan or Nelson Mandela, without ever actually meeting them.
The ability to spin a great yarn is a powerful attribute to hold. Whether it’s building relationships, impressing people at a party or telling the story of your life or business, quality storytelling will get you a long way in life. What better way to learn than from the masters- Mark Twain, Fyodor Dostoyesvsky and Ernst Hemingway could certainly teach you a thing or two. Just study their works..
Your vocabulary expands as you read more, improving both your oral and written presentation. A larger word database allows you to get your message across much more effectively.
“My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” — Malcolm X
Very few have had the ability to tell a story the way Malcom X did..
Just like your legs and biceps, the brain is a muscle that requires stimulation for it to grow and expand.
When focused on a book, “parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging,” says Ken Pugh, PhD, president and director of research of Haskins Laboratories, which is devoted to the science of language and affiliated with Yale. “A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain.”
It can also reduce or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and Dementia as we age: “More frequent cognitive activity across the life span has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline”, states a study published in Neurology.
The best cognitive activity? You guessed it.. time to read more.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin
Fiction authors are often some of the most observant people around. Diving into their work can provide valuable insights on human nature. It allows the reader to get inside the head of people from all walks of life, viewing the world from a different perspective.
Don’t know what it would be like living with a mental illness? Read Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis.
Want to understand how Richard Branson views the world? Read his biography: Losing My virginity.
“Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies,” authors Kidd & Castano wrote in a report for Science magazine. Literary fiction in particular encourages ‘Theory of Mind’ “the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires.”
Fictional reading also promotes empathy.
“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” — Confucius
If you need to educate yourself in a specific area, reading is one of the best ways to do so (probably second to hands on experience). For example, if you are learning how to market your business effectively, read The 22 immutable laws of marketing. Books contain a more in-depth and comprehensive study than any other medium.
They are also great for general knowledge. A greater understanding of how the world is (e.g history, geography, economics, politics) will make a more well-rounded person and a much better conversationalist.It gives you a lot of confidence in making decisions when you have a more thorough understanding of how things work.
In these times of facebook news-feeds, the 24 hour news-cycle and the constant bombardment of marketers from ll diretions, our ability to concentrate for long stretches has declined significantly. We really are turning into the ADD generation.
Reading has the opposite effect.
Sitting down to read an in-depth non fiction or novel requires concentration, the ability to block out external stimuli to focus on the words in front of you. The next step is absorbing those words and forming them into cohesive thoughts. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of reading 1 page over and over and still having no idea what it actually says..
This one no doubt, will take some time. If you’re not used to channeling your focus for long periods of time, there will be an adjustment phase. You can’t expect to sit down and read War and Peace right off the bat.
A recent study at the University of Sussex suggest that reading for as little as 6 minutes can reduce stress levels by upto 68%.
I think this particularly applies to fiction, which takes you out of your own world and transports you into another. If you have a head full of thoughts buzzing around your head as you are trying to sleep, try reading a chapter of a novel. (This only applies to physical books. The light emitted from ebooks is not conductive to a sound sleep..)
Hopefully by now I have convinced you that reading benefits you in so many ways.
There’s plenty of recommendations on this site for what to read, including weekly reviews from my 52 Book Challenge. Maybe it’s something you will consider for yourself as next year’s resolution..
You are probably wondering why a post titled ‘The End of Religion’ is popping up on a website about climbing the 7 Summits. Fair point, now let me explain. I started this project to promote education. In particular, education to some of the most disadvantaged people on our planet, but education none the less. Education is the only real defense against ignorance and the void-filling beliefs that may otherwise exist. That’s what has brought about this post.
I was caught off guard by a comment I heard recently during the presidential nominee campaign, that 90% of Americans believe in god. It got me doing some research & I was truly shocked at what I found; the beliefs still held by a large, large number of people, often individuals in positions of power. I honestly believed the majority of the developed world, particularly those with high-level educations, had turned away from religion as science had progressed. While the U.S.A is certainly an extreme case amongst the Western world, even Australia had a far higher percentage of people identifying themselves as religious than I had expected.
I personally, wish to see an end to organised religion. I believe it has caused humanity far more hardship than good which continues to this day. A world without religion would be, in my opinion, a better place. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. It will require at least 2 more generations to mature into rational adult thinkers before I think we finally have a chance to achieve to do away with many of the ridiculous beliefs and ideologies that have plagued our society for centuries.
Please understand, I am not talking about spirituality or the belief in a higher power. I am talking about ending the institution that is organised religion; be it Christianity, Hinduism or Islam. I have no qualms about the belief in a ‘god’ or higher power. I’m not against this notion as, while I have an opinion, I have no idea what actually happens when we die. My personal beliefs are; once we die, that’s it, there is no ‘soul’ that drifts to another plane or a consciousness that is transported to a different realm. Our physical bodies break down and the remnants are used for other purposes. The atoms that once made us are used again to give life to another entity. That’s beautiful to me, we become part of a new life, the same as we are made up of those lives that came before us. Those are my beliefs though, I am just like everyone else in that I have absolutely no idea. The difference however, is that I don’t profess to know.
The only thing I can hope to achieve with this post is that, after reading it, you may ponder the issues I raise and consider your own position on religion in our modern world. Maybe a little more research into the sacred texts or reading the works of authors who have dedicated their lives to this issue.
Is there a place for religion in this current day and age? I don’t believe so..
Why is it that in all other aspects of life, we are generally critical thinkers. We don’t blindly believe what we are told without first examining the evidence and proof to determine if it is in fact, true. There is only one particular subject that seems to escape any rational discourse: religion. As Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith puts it; “On the subject of religious belief, we relax standards of reasonableness and evidence that we rely on in every other area of our lives. We relax so totally that people believe the most ludicrous propositions, and are willing to organize their lives around them.”
In the modern day, one reason is certainly the fact that the belief is so widespread. It’s the sheep mentality at work again- if so many people believe it, there must be some truth to it. What if an individual, even a small segment of society, went around telling everyone the son of god came down to Earth (born to a virgin mother), walked on water, was killed and then came back to life. This story provides the basis with which these particular individuals live their entire lives. You’d think they were completely mental and have them locked up. Since the majority of priests and bishops are not currently incarcerated (although many should be) then it must be that what they are preaching is not completely crazy after all. This is a fallacy of social proof at play.
‘When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.’ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Another factor, is that criticism of religious belief tends to be relatively taboo. I can argue that your sports team sucks, the political party you vote for is a joke or that your sister probably sleeps around too much. Heaven forbid I were to question your belief in an antiquated 2,000 year old text. They say you should never discuss religion at the dinner table. Why? Is it because people are embarrassed by their beliefs? Or that they don’t want to have their beliefs questioned, perhaps in fear that a little doubt may just creep in.. This ‘off-limits’ approach has surely been the reason some of absurd these religious principals have been preached unopposed for so long. It’s about time to break that tradition.
Individuals are of course, free to believe what they wish. This is one of the great virtues of the society we live in. You can then choose to express these beliefs or keep them to yourself, you will not be persecuted either way. Although your beliefs are uninhibited (and rightly so), it doesn’t mean they are free from the judgement of your peers…
When people say ‘my beliefs are personal, I don’t go around preaching them so I can believe whatever I want’. That’s very true. The problem here is if that person is in a position of authority, making key decisions that can affect the fate of others (aka a certain former Australian Prime Minister). If you are the leader of a nation such as Australia, making decisions that influence 22 million people, what you believe in the privacy of your own home holds tremendous sway. If you were to believe that the Earth is only 10,000 years old and that there was once an arc that held 2 of every single species on Earth, how sound can your logic really be? How can you make an informed decision on the science of climate change, if you don’t acknowledge science as a whole.
This is where the previous argument leads.. If individuals could truly separate their religious beliefs with all other aspects of life, it would certainly not impose much of a problem on society. That is simply not the case however. As such, these strongly held views need to be open to criticism, just as communist or fascist ideas would be, just as a leader who believed in alchemy or astrology would be. This double standard needs to stop.
A key argument made by those who express the need for religion in our modern day is that without it, humans are naturally morally corrupt. Without the guiding principles of the bible and the virtuous life of Jesus, we would be running around stealing, murdering and coveting our neighbors wife at will. In fact there would probably be less of the first 2 and an equal amount of the third, although we might be more open about it..
The presumption that we need religion to be moral beings is preposterous and to assume we should use the bible or the Koran as our moral compass is even worse. I won’t even begin to go into detail as to the moral double-standard played out in the Bible and Koran. The list of examples is far too extensive. The more positive teachings have been chosen to represent the morality of these works while the rest have been played down and passed off as outdated or misinterpreted. I think Sam Harris says it best:
“The [sacred texts] themselves are very poor guides to morality. The only way you find goodness in good books is because you recognize it. They’re based on your own ethical intuitions.”
Let’s touch on the issue of marriage equality, such a well publicised and polarizing topic in recent years. First off let me just say, I think we can agree that the only opposition to allowing marriage equality is the church. The absolute majority of rational, free-thinking individuals (I include myself in this group) believe it is a human right to marry whoever you so choose. The whole prolonged debate about the issue is quite frankly, ridiculous.I do believe however, that those campaigning so heavily for marriage equality are misguided. Their focus and energy should be directed to the root cause of the impediment to the progression of human rights, religion itself. If we were to do away with this archaic institution, the issue would be resolved, as would innumerable others that stunt our growth as a global society.
For hundreds and hundreds of the years gone by, I wouldn’t have been able to express these views for fear of persecution, likely i would’ve been put to death. That was the bullying and controlling nature of the Catholic church for so long and what we currently see in the Islamic world. The only reason religious figures now present a friendly face is because that power they once held is slowly slipping away as the world is awakened from its pious sedation.
As Professor Richard Dawkins would have you, “Imagine, with John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as ‘Christ-killers’, no Northern Ireland ‘troubles’, no ‘honour killings’, no shiny-suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money (‘God wants you to give till it hurts’). Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin for the crime of showing an inch of it.”
Now picture a world in which the end of religion has come to pass.
On the teaching of religion in our schools…
This is perhaps the most important topic of this post as it’s the only way to truly resolve the issue at hand. The only way I see religion slowly dissolving it’s stranglehold is through it’s relevant teaching in our schools and at home. No doubt this has already started to take effect. Religion should purely be taught as literature and history. Faith itself has no doubt had tremendous influence on humanity over the centuries and much of the current world would be inadequately understood without first exploring the various belief systems throughout history. This should not be limited to the one most prevalent in the schools particular society at the time.
As for the home, it is certainly a parents right to bring up their children in the manner they best see fit. However these kids will one day be apart of the greater society, perhaps in influential positions such as politics or business. It is therefore the duty of the school system to provide a balanced education, promoting critical thinking and allowing kids the chance to think for themselves and make up their own minds. When the facts are presented free from bias, you’ll likely find religion is pushed to one side, as appears to be slowly happening in the developed world.
If you want an example of what religious brainwashing at home and at school can do to a child, watch Jesus Camp. This is what occurs when you have fanatical parents mixed with a bias and partial education, often combining the 2 with home-schooling (Is there any doubt as to why such a large portion of children with parents belonging to cult like religions are home-schooled?) This is obviously an extreme situation and not meant to reflect the majority of moderate Christians. I just pointed it out to demonstrate that this kind of fanatical behaviour is still going on, in one of the most educated nations on Earth. Although just for a moment, can you imagine one of these kids in a position of political power one day 30 years from now? Imagine the implications that may have for America and the rest of the world. Don’t say it couldn’t happen..
On the topic of education, I’d highly recommend reading the works of authors who are far more knowledgeable and articulate than I could ever hope to be.
Here is my recommended reading list;
Stay tuned for The End of Religion Part 2..
The difference education can make on the life of a young Nepalese girl. My aim is to help children from Nepal recieve an education and escape the poverty cycle. You can help children like Manisha by donating to the 7 Summits Project:https://www.savethechildrenfundraising.org.au/eve…/7-summits
Everything raised goes directly to Save the Children Nepal and will be put to use in the way we see best benefits the local community.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela
“Education is the movement from darkness to light” Allan Bloom
I usually try and avoid using quotes, the invention of Facebook and Instagram ensuring you have probably seen every significant quote at least 10 times throughout the last few years. Many completely out of context.. These 2 quotes from Nelson Mandela and Allan Bloom perfectly encapsulate what my thoughts are however, so I’ve decided to make an exception.
When I started this project last year, I spent a good while considering which area of focus was likely to have the biggest impact from my fundraising efforts and where I could actually make a difference. I knew I wanted to help the people of Nepal, young children in particular, but in what way was still up for debate.
The amount of help needed in Nepal ( and the world in general) is truly staggering; diseases, lack of water, sanitation, drought, political turmoil, its simply not possible to help every cause out there. After a bit of deliberating, I realised there was one area i could focus on that would have an influence on all others. That is education.
What really resonated with me when I got the chance to meet the local people in rural Nepal, was their lack of hope and optimism about the future. Don’t get me wrong, they still lead happy and cheerful lives, but they see no way out of their current circumstances. They are trapped in that poverty cycle and don’t see a means to escape. Often living on $1 a day, few opportunities are available to venture out and provide more for their families. They simply don’t know how to go about it. As far as I can reason, there is only one way to solve that problem..
The thing with education is that it takes time to see results. The kids that are educated today will probably need 20+ years to have an impact on their own environment, let alone the rest of the world. But it’s the only long term solution. Providing medication for disease, supplies of food for hunger, shelter for those displaced by war.. they are bandaids and will only provide temporary relief. They may receive more attention and support because they demonstrate tangible results from every dollar invested. You can see exactly where the money is going and how it is being used (or abused). Investment in learning is a little less black and white.
Education is not just what is learnt in a formal schooling environment, it encapsulates everything which we absorb and which influences our knowledge base and view of the world. Many say travel is the best education and I couldn’t agree more, nothing will alter your view of the world more than seeing it for yourself.
School is an important part of the process however and something we take for granted here in the west. School lays the foundation for a childs development. This is when our first opinion are formed, our capacity for thinking and impressions of the adult world are developed. I would argue the first 3 years at school are perhaps more important than the rest of primary and high school put together.
We take it as a given that we are enrolled in school at the age of 4 or 5 (sometimes earlier) and spend the next 10-20 years of our lives with this establishment as our main occupation. We see it as a basic human right and a choice we are freely granted as to whether we pursue the opportunity or not. Many kids in the developing world are desperate for a chance to simply sit in a classroom and learn. A pencil is enough to brighten their day and open a new world of possiblity.
From my experiences, kids without access to a proper education are always the most enthisiastic and willing to learn when given the opportunity.
If I am to meet my maker at some point over the course of this journey, I’d like to be able to say I’d done as much as I could to make the world a more positive place. That to me makes for a meaningful existence. If I can help a few kids escape their poverty and live productive lives then I will feel content that I have achieved that mission. I want to give these kids the opportunity to change their own communities. The knowledge and skills to make a difference and hopefully a chance to make their own impact on the world.
If you’d like to help me achieve this vision, you can donate directly through Save the Children here: DONATE