Empowering Nepali

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Exchange and Empower

The Exchange and Empower program is a collaboration between Hong Kong Trail Running Women and legendary trail runner and feminist Mira Rai. The program aims to provide talented young female runners in Nepal the opportunity to broaden their horizons, experience different lifestyles, and share their stories and culture with others.

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Since bursting onto the international trail running scene in 2014, Mira’s story has inspired people around the world. Raised in a remote village in Eastern Nepal, Mira left school at 12 to support her family before leaving home to join the Maoist rebels aged just 14. For Mira, this was an opportunity – a chance to train, learn new skills, and break free from the inequality of rural life.

After the end of the insurgency, Mira moved to Kathmandu in search of a brighter future. A chance encounter with Richard Bull, director of Trail Running Nepal, saw her enter her first trail running competition. She placed first, and has since raced around the world, winning many prestigious events and even being named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

Following an injury in early 2016, Mira has focussed her efforts on developing a new generation of athletes in Nepal, giving them the opportunities she feels so lucky to have had.

Women in Nepal

Nepal is modernising rapidly, but it remains a deeply patriarchal society.Life for women is hard, particularly in rural areas, where girls are expected to help rear animals, do house and farmwork and raise siblings from a young age. Despite being illegal, child marriage is common, and as a result many girls leave school early. Very few have the opportunity to study, travel, choose careers and take control of their own destinies.

Find out more about the program

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Training and Education Grant

In 2019, we aim to fully support 10 high-potential young women athletes from Nepal, selected by Mira, for 9 months (June 2019 to March 2020), giving them the opportunity to focus on athletic training, education and professional development.

The program will offer:

  • Personalized coaching from Mira on trail and ultra running
  • 9 months’ housing and food allowance
  • Small-group English lessons (supplementary to school or college)
  • Allowance for professional development including travel costs and entry fee to races around Nepal, NATHM trail guide certification
  • Modest stipend for acting as part time coaches in Mira’s extracurricular sports programs in local schools in Nepal

The cost to fully support one young woman for one month is approximately US$500.  The total budget for the Training and Education Scholarships US$50,000.

Please check for latest fundraising status/updates on our blog.

Hong Kong Exchange

As part of the program, our athletes will have the opportunity to visit Hong Kong and compete in one of the many renowned trail races the city has to offer.  Since ultra running is not yet an officially recognised sport in Nepal, most of the young women in the program will have no experience running longer than half-marathon or marathon distances. Mira’s training program will develop the women’s athletic potential.

As well as race entry, we will provide support for:

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Food and other daily expenses

The women will stay in Hong Kong for several days. Tours and educational programs will be arranged to ensure they receive the maximum possible benefit from their time here.

Please check our blog for the latest fundraising status/updates, and contact us if you are interested to host, guide or provide mentorship.

Opportunity Grants

In addition to our sponsored athletes, we also aim to provide up to 25 grants to support program alumni and other promising young women to achieve their goals – whether this may be to race abroad, to further their training or education, or to start a new business or initiative. We have budgeted around US$35,000 in small and medium-sized grants for 2019.





Thank You

As Mira herself says, there are countless Mira Rais in Nepal – women who dream of doing something more with their lives, but lack the means or opportunity to do so. This program may be a small step, but it will help to change the lives of the women involved, and hopefully inspire a new generation of Nepali women to follow their dreams.

Would you like to help?

Contact Us