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meet wendy haynes,
leading australian wedding & civil celebrant

Wendy HaynesQuotation MarkI love my work and have been passionate about celebrancy since I was appointed in 1995.
It's been an inspiring and rewarding journey working side by side with many couples and families creating personal, unique and heartwarming ceremonies that have touched not only the couple but everyone present. 
Whether your celebration is a wedding ceremony, name giving ceremony, funeral, birthday celebration, or any other of life's 'touchpoints', I can help you to make it unforgettable, exciting, relaxed and friendly and, most of all, fun and inspiring."Wendy Haynes Signature
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See what Wendy's been up to recently! Wendy recaps weddings, events and more in her personal blog.

Health camp in a remote village

We have been staying in Bir for a few days as we come to the close of our north India adventure. This morning we woke early in preparation for a three day health camp supporting our homeopathic doctor friend and his wife.


I headed out the door to the waiting taxi with my small pack filled with a change of clothes, wet weather gear and enough drinking water for a days walk. Our taxi driver has brought along another friend to join us as we climb up the mountain and down into the valley on the other side to a remote Himalayan village. There are six of us in the group and we all have a part to play. Our taxi drivers come guide and translators are two beautiful gentle men who have lived and walked in this area all of their lives.


It is a gentle walk up as we started from Billing, a world renowned paragliding drop off point. We wound our way through tall pine forests and native rhododendron gardens. Wow, what a colourful picture this place would be in spring time!  Now the lush greens and dusty path contrast the hazy blue backdrop of the surrounding hills.

After a few hours of walking along a level contour around the mountain we turn the corner where our expected lunch awaits us. However, the Gods have other plans as the owner has locked up his ‘restaurant’ and gone off. This unique restaurant is a rough shanty covered in tin and plastic yet the food is unbelievable yummy according to our guides.

I stick my camera in through the gaps and take some photos with the flash to record the ‘kitchen’ and am delighted to see mud floors, an open fire place and pots and pans scattered around in an orderly fashion. Next time…


We share a packet of delicious baked and salted moong beans (eastern equivalent of salted peanuts!). Roger offered our guides some and they both take a handful. Just as I was turning around I noticed both of them give their small handful of snack food to two other Indian walkers who had just arrived. The generosity of the Indian people is ever present.

Back on our way and we start to get glimpses of the mountains and valley ahead. I can feel my excitement rise. It is not long before we arrive at our ‘hotel’. Two tents and a shanty cook house. The tables, which they proudly show us, are outdoors and have magnificent views up and down the valley and across to the little village which we will visit tomorrow.  The silence is palpable … which after the dogs in the town of Bir is a welcome relief.


The homeopathic doctor and his wife, Roger and myself share the tent and climb into the 4 bunk beds after huddling round a campfire for a few hours listening to the tales of the locals (all in Hindi). We laugh a while and I am reminded of the youth camps I attended in my early teen days. Lots of laughing, telling of stories and finally the noise of gentle snoring and rustling sleeping bags. I didn’t sleep much but I was happy to be there. 

I awoke early and greeted the sunrise as I did my yoga on one of the terraced gardens. Our cooks had prepared a porridge for breakfast which I hoped would sustain me on our walk up the valley and across to the village. It was a glorious walk through a few small villages consisting of three or four homes. People went about their daily chores waving to us as we passed. We dropped down off the stone pathway towards the river and crossed using a bridge made from three logs packed with stones and dirt in between. It felt safe enough!

As we headed up through the myriad of terraced rice paddies all built and managed by hand I marveled at the hours and hours of labour that goes into producing food for their survival. For centuries the villagers have toiled on this land, men, women and children all help. Hoeing the land with mattocks, breaking the clods of soil with wooden beaters then carrying loads of manure in baskets on their backs and spreading it out by hand. This is then sowed with wheat or rice depending on the season. It is hard work and long days. They harvest the dried grass and when it is dried carry it on their backs back to the village in bundles that look way too heavy for me to carry. Slowly, steadily one foot in front of the other they walk for miles to store this precious winter commodity.

We walk through the larger village and am a bit surprised that we keep walking and cannot stay in this isolated place to wander around and walk through the narrow pathways. There are no cars or bikes here so there is a tranquility that is catching. I glimpse rice drying on decks, baskets of chili’s being prepared for storage, a woman comes down to the central water pump with a basket on her head and child snuggled up against her back fast asleep. Another woman passes by with a bundle of sticks on her head. On the outer edge of the village is a little stone house with water rushing out through a vent at floor level. I stick my head in and there is a little old man smiling, doubled up as he mills the flour. The water turns the wheel and he is busy sweeping the flour into a bag. This place is magical.


Yet we have a day of patients ahead of us and we must go on to our office. We wind back up across a small gorge where a team of men, women and children are working on building a bridge. I feel a tinge of sadness as this bridge will allow vehicles into the village and change the life of the people forever. Of course, it is a romantic notion as it also means they will be able to receive supplies easily and have greater access to facilities when needed.


On we go along the dusty track when suddenly our guide turns to us and says we have arrived. It is the beginning of the road out of this valley. There is a little shanty shop and a bus stop in the full sun. I thought we must be catching a bus. But no, this literally was the ‘office’ where we would meet our patients.


We all smiled at each other and just had time to brush off some dust (fortunately I had brought a sarong with me that we could set up the medicines on) and set up shop before a bus load of  patients started queuing up. Our two Indian guides were amazing translating back and forth the many health complaints, discussions, recommendations and dosages. This couple completely give their time and medicines for free – as an act of service. With four of us working we saw nearly 50 people and gave out medicines. (The cost for guides, accommodation, food and taxi’s is about A$400. If you are interested in making donations to this couple please email me and I will give you their contact details. They are happy to donate their time yet desperately need funds to keep the basic costs covered. If you are interested in joining them as they work they also welcome the hands on help).


By the end of the day I had met some amazing women and connected at a heart level with them. No language no words, yet lots of hugs and smiles.


We finished late in the afternoon and had arranged for a taxi to meet us at five so we walked down the valley as the sun set, villagers were rounding up the cattle and sheep for the evening. Women and children were carrying loads of manure down to the lower levels of the rice paddies from the village… it’s a long way!


Our three hour drive back to Bir was nothing short of scary. Over high mountain passes, along narrow roads on the edge of cliff faces and through narrow streets of small towns. My mind kept fearing that I was going to die. How would it be to die now? Please let it be over with quickly! The driver was playing load American pop music until finally we asked if we could change it to Indian music and please can you turn the volume down? We survived and I was exhausted and relieved when we arrived back home to the barking dogs of Bir!


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