Seven thousand miles from America, in a country of over 28 million people, one McAfee grad is changing lives one water filter at a time. Kara Hayslip, 2015 McAfee graduate, lives and works in Nepal and has stepped out on faith creating her own clean water ministry.
While at McAfee, Kara took her last two classes in India for one month with Dr. Nash (Professor of Missions and World Religions) and Dr. Garber (Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew). After this life-changing trip Kara and a friend decided to take additional trips to numerous parts of the world, including Nepal. After these experiences, Kara knew God wanted her to help people globally. Kara decided to live out her dreams and she never looked back.
She fell in love right away with the colors and the chaos of the city in beautiful Kathmandu. While she loved the crazy, crowded city, it was her arrival in Pokhara (the second largest city of Nepal) that made her feel at home: “In Pokhara you wake up to the sounds of construction, dogs, and roosters. Then as you walk the street for your morning coffee you are passed by motorcycles, bicycles carrying heavy loads, people yelling for you to buy breakfast, cows, and adorable children walking to school. You talk to a man who sells you the bottled water, and catch up with the owner who serves you dhal bhat (main Nepali dish).”
This was a normal day for Kara in Nepal, but things were not so normal after the earthquake known as “the Gorkha,” struck in 2015. The Gorkha killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000. One could no longer see the man with the bottles of water or purchase the Nepali dish, dal bhat, with ease. Within this devastation Kara saw an opportunity to help. Suddenly, her calling came into focus.
Before the earthquake the people of Nepal already suffered from old and crumbling water pipes, improper sewage structure, and contaminated water. The earthquake made these conditions worse. In response to the crisis Kara began her nonprofit: Backpacking 4 Betty (B4B). Through B4B Kara aims to empower people and promote growth through hygiene awareness and access to water filters.
With the distribution of water filters Kara and volunteers also hold hygiene classes to citizens, specifically woman. Many people in this part of the country have died from highly preventable diseases stemming from unsanitary conditions. These educational opportunities around hygiene are intended to eradicate illness plaguing the area, and promote health and wellness. Kara says, “By speaking with the women about hygiene and providing them the outlet to purchase their own filter, we hope to increase the amount of homes drinking clean water.”
Kara admits it has not been easy in Nepal experiencing isolation from family and friends, dealing with the economic blockade from India, and learning to manage everything a new culture presents, but she credits her time at McAfee in helping her to keep pushing forward: “McAfee gave me essential tools that have greatly aided my time overseas. I am better able to listen, I am more culturally sensitive and I really work to learn from others. Instead of going in with a ‘what do we bring to them’ mentality, McAfee taught me to go, listen, and learn from the people who know their country best. Then I slowly ask questions and meet a verbalized need, not one I decide should be met.”
Kara encourages all those who aspire to travel or start a nonprofit to prepare, make contacts, and just do it. “At some point you have to take the plunge and see if you will stick it out through the difficulties.”
Continuing to press forward, Kara is taking steps so her program can continue to make an impact in not just Nepal, but other areas that are in need:“Over the next year, I am looking for options to make a sustainable model so we are not forced to continually fundraise. I am working with an Australian NGO to be their water filter distributor in my city selling Nepalese made clay filters designed for in-home use. If this is successful, there will be funds to support the school program which buys American made filters designed for public use.”
Kara continues to check things off her bucket list, beyond her Nonprofit, B4B. She once wondered what it would be like to fly. She got the chance while in Nepal as she strapped on a parachute and glided through the clouds. She remembers the mist that rolled off her harness making her smile from ear to ear. She even went hiking in the Annapurnas and compared it to “heaven on earth.”
Kara’s ministry goes beyond the walls of the church. With her commitment and passion, she helps others to not only live healthy lives but to achieve their dreams like Kara, herself, is doing.
To connect with Kara, learn more about what Backpacking 4 Betty is doing and to get involved, visit their website.
Written by Brittini Palmer
Brittini Palmer writes for McAfee as a second year Master of Divinity student. She is a graduate from Virginia Union University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. In addition to writing and freelance reporting, Palmer has always been active in the community, and advocates for human rights. She believes everyone has a story, and writes to bring those stories to life with a passion to help someone along the way.