May 11th, 2015 Update
I want to personally thank all of you for your incredible generosity in supporting the Sherpa after the earthquake struck Nepal. We can confirm that to date we have received donations amounting to $65,007 which combined with Alpine Ascents’ matching funds of $20,000 brings our total to $85,007. This is truly amazing! The people of Thame thank you for helping them rebuild their lives.
The following gives some history of events and up to date information of what is going in in Thame and other places in Nepal.
News from Thame and Nepal
Thame is one of two villages that received the greatest damage in the Khumbu region, the area where the majority of the Sherpa live. Most if not all houses have received damage or were completely destroyed.
Lakpa Rita Sherpa is on the ground in Thame. We talk by phone every afternoon assessing the damage, discussing the progress made towards stabilizing the situation and ways to go forward. I want to give all of you a recap and update of what Lakpa and others have told to me and what we hope to accomplish.
Lakpa was born in Thame and his parents and brother still reside in the village. Most of our climbing Sherpa live in Thame as well as our Yak drivers. Over the last 25 years Alpine Ascents has developed strong relationships in the community and the surrounding area. This is useful for us in helping their community as we know their families and have a good understanding of their culture and life style.
Directly after helicopters flew all team members from Camp 1 on Everest to Base Camp, the Sherpa left for Thame. With no porters or Yaks available they took all that they could carry. Over the next couple days Alpine Ascents’ Base Camp was packed and secured. The large dining and sleeping tents from our expedition were donated and flown by helicopter to Thame for Lakpa to distribute. Additional tents have arrived from other sources and we have been told that more large tents from a relief agency will be arriving shortly in the Khumbu distributing some to the village of Thame.
A Yak team was sent back to Alpine Ascents Base Camp to retrieve other supplies, including all imported and local food purchased before the earthquake. This together with additional tents will help provide a more comfortable temporary living environment for the families in Thame.
Our Immediate Priority – Food and Shelter
Our immediate goal is to make sure the families have adequate shelter and food to go into the monsoon months. The Sherpa would prefer to live by their homes so they can continue retrieving their possessions and food stores as well as sort out reusable building materials. For the time being there seems to be sufficient food in the community, but still a need for tents. We will continue to address these needs.
Lakpa’s first days in Thame were very distressing; people were engulfed in grief from the loss of their homes and a very uncertain future. Since then the attitude has changed and they are grateful that there was so little loss of life in their community. It is my understanding that 2 people were killed and a few seriously injured.
The overwhelming challenge in their future is how to rebuild their homes. Most houses have been passed from one generation to the next and the expense to rebuild is great. Sherpa have little experience in construction as they primarily work as climbing and trekking guides, operate tea houses and transporting cargo on Yaks. They must hire local builders to construct their homes and they are in short supply. Lakpa has sent people down valley to Solo Khumbu in search for stone masons and carpenters. They believe in the next month when things settle down that a few skilled workers will be available and combined with the strong labor force of the Sherpa community they can begin rebuilding.
Our Second Priority – Rebuilding Homes and Schools
Our second priority is to help fund the rebuilding of their homes and schools (2 of 3 school buildings in Thame were destroyed), by providing materials and financial assistance where needed. Sherpa houses are primarily built from local stone with a few wood post and beams to support the roof. These are the only local materials that are available and it is very expensive to purchase and transport other materials to the Khumbu such as mortar and concrete. Now days most transport is done by helicopter at great cost. We plan to assist the people of Thame to rebuild their homes by providing financial assistance in the purchase of building materials as soon as skilled labor can be brought to the community.
In the last few days we have contacted architects who have sent us information on improved construction techniques for stone building that greatly increase the survivability of houses during an earthquake. Surprisingly these are not costly. There are structural strengthening methods used during the building process so that the walls, floor and roof move together in an earthquake and increase its likelihood of minimal damage. We will continue pursuing methods of construction that will preserve the traditional home styles while improving safety.
Our Continuous Goal – Providing Education for the Children of Nepal
Our third priority is helping to educate the children in Nepal. The Sherpa Education Fund founded in 1999 has 32 children in boarding schools located in Namche and in KTM. Five orphans were enrolled just a few days before the earthquake. Fortunately all of the children supported by the Sherpa Education Fund are safe. Our commitment to them continues through High School and if they are successful in academics we will further assist them in higher education. Due to the earthquake the need for educational support has grown a thousand fold. Many schools were destroyed and over 1 million families have been displaced.
The nursery school we recently built in Namche in conjunction with the local Sherpa community, received some damage, but we hope it can be repaired soon. Other school buildings in Namche were damaged as well. We will work to help them repair these schools.
There are a number of families living in other villages that have sent their children to Namche for education. The children live in a boarding house nearby and their families pay fees for this service. Due to the earthquake many families can no longer afford to board their children to continue their education. We will try and assist in addressing this issue in the near future so that these children’s education can continue.
Once again, I would like to thank all of you for your generous donations. It is through your help that we are able to assist so many families and improve the future of their children. You are our heroes.
I would also like to reiterate that all donations to the Sherpa Education Fund go directly for paying tuition and building schools. Funds donated by you for the Thame Fund will go directly to the people in Thame for building materials and temporary living assistance. All administrative costs of the Alpine Ascents Foundation and equipment donated from Alpine Ascents are paid for by Alpine Ascents.