Years ago, in my traveling days, I visited Nepal. Kathmandu is the capital and largest city. It is also the only major city near Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain 

I marveled at the beauty of the mountain range and there were several haunts in the city that particularly catered to the hikers and climbers. I was not a climber, but was admittedly intrigued by their equipment and sense of bravado. I was content at the time to wander the markets and visit temples. Hiking or climbing was not on the agenda. I also wasn’t there at the best time of year for traversing the trails; they were shrouded in fog most of the time and many were muddy. There were reports at the time of one hiker who had gone missing in the mist.  

It is to Kathmandu that two friends of mine are traveling at the end of September. Once there, they will board a small plane and fly to Lukla. Their plan is not to just visit the Himalayas, but to trek to the base camp of Mount Everest, a journey that will take well over a week, taking them into high altitudes and across suspension bridges.  

Marianne Clyde is the founder and president of Be the Change Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers classes for women who would like to start or grow a business, she is a vicechair on the Fauquier Chamber, sits on the Women’s Business Council and is technically retired from her more than two-decade career as a holistic therapist. She’s also an accomplished author, grandmother and optimistic and serene soul that I am blessed to call my friend. 

I remember Monica Fernandi when she and her husband Mike were married near the town’s new LOVE sign. They exchanged vows surrounded by family, friends and anyone else in town who wanted to come. The community was invited to witness their happy day. Monica is a yoga/fitness instructor and personal trainer. She is also a regular contributor to the Fauquier Times; her columns focus on growing strong from within. Her philosophy of living well with ease, grace and mindful thinking is contagious. Whenever I see her at a meeting or social event or on the street, she greets me with a hug and smile and good vibes. I like her and I’m inspired by her energy. 

These two, along with Monica’s husband Mike, are embarking on a journey that I’m sure won’t be without stress, fear and some trepidation. They’ve been in training for months, hiking and backpacking the local climbs around here, but the trek to the base camp will be a different story. 

But there is a cause, a reason that they have decided to juggle fear, happiness and self-reliance. 

It has to do with water, or rather a shortage of it in many parts of the world. 

Marianne has seen first-hand the consequences to villages and their residents when they do not have access to clean water and sanitation. So when she got wind of World Hope International’s challenge to trek with Sara Hastreiter to the base camp of Mount Everest, she jumped at the chance. That’s Marianne. And when she started talking about it with Monica and Mike, they decided to hike as well.  

Sara Hastreiter is no ordinary lady. She’s a professional sailor, adventurer and athlete. She is on her way to becoming the first woman to have sailed the seven seas and climbed seven of the world’s highest summits. She has tied charitable giving to her adventures. Her partnering with World Hope International is to raise monies in support of well water projects. 

My friends are also fundraising, with a goal of each raising $10,000. They’re not there yet, but they’re only a few thousand shy of reaching that number. 

What I’ve learned from both of these fine ladies is that we are as powerful and strong as we allow ourselves to be. In a couple of weeks, they will be challenged physically and mentally. Hopefully several wells will be dug in faraway places because of their efforts, making a difference for the people who live there.   

I encourage you to be with them in prayer and spirit. I encourage you to lend them your support. In doing so, you’ll be champions not just for clean water but for courageous hearts.  


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