Telluride Helitrax is lucky to employ some of the best heli-ski guides in the business. They work hard skiing and guiding all winter, but what are they up to in the summer?!
Mark Rikkers has been a guide with Telluride Helitrax for 10 blissful seasons, but his “real” job for the last four years has been Executive Director at the dZi Foundation. The dZi Foundation, which is headquartered in Ridgway, CO, works in partnership with remote communities in Nepal to create lasting improvements in the Nepalese quality of life. The dZi Foundation works to accomplish this through implementing community-driven programs that improve public facilities, public health, income levels and educational opportunities while preserving community unity, the natural environment, and indigenous culture.
Mark has been to Nepal each year since he started his gig with the dZi Foundation. He enjoys getting to know the locals and their incredible culture. “Nepal is a really diverse and fascinating culture, especially in the deep, remote corners, and the people are among the most wonderful, hard working, resilient and fascinating I have had the pleasure to spend time with, anywhere,” says Rikkers. Through guiding with Helitrax, Mark is able to connect with like-minded people. Many clients have been to Nepal and have unique stories of their own, or are interested in visiting the Himalayan Mountains, this creates a nice connection to his office job.
Since the destructive earthquakes that began in late April, Rikkers and the dZi Foundation team have been busier than ever. Fortunately, none of their 18 Nepali employees were killed, though many lost family, friends and homes. dZi’s focus has and continues to be on community-led projects, including school buildings, drinking water systems, sanitary toilets and agriculture projects. With the monsoon season well underway, Rikkers and his team are focused on funding the construction of temporary learning centers so kids can safely return to school. They have completed over 20 of these so far, in some of the most remote villages in Nepal, and are in the midst of finishing approximately 20 more. As soon as the monsoons end, true reconstruction efforts of schools and other vital community infrastructure will begin.
You can learn more about dZi’s innovative and effective work on their website (www.dzi.org) and keep current on regular updates from the field by visiting them on Facebook. You can also contact Mark directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.