Sherpa Education Fund
Organized by: Stephen Swofford
"I won't go back to the mountain. If I go back, I will die, and I love life" -Sonam Sherpa
Growing up in the Khumbu region of Nepal, life is dominated by the mountaineering industry. Specifically Mount Everest. Ask anyone there, and you'll hear stories of cousins, uncles, brothers, and fathers dead on the mountain. Stories of the time they themselves were caught in a blizzard, dragging an unconscious client down a dangerous mountain, sure they would die. Digging out the bodies of friends and relatives from the latest in a lifetime of avalanches.
Education opportunities in Khumbu are rare, expensive, and difficult to reach. Though Sherpas are well known and highly renowned for their climbing abilities, most of them only join the climbing industry because they have no other option. It is a common sentiment among sherpas to climb so their children don't have to. They send their children to Kathmandu for school so they have more options available to them, but after the earthquake on April 25th, 2015 and again on May 12, many of these opportunities may be lost. Money intended for education is instead going to rebuild homes and monasteries as government and NGO aid goes to other areas, or stagnates in Kathmandu. Normalcy isn't the goal, as normal still means stagnation and death for many Sherpa beholden to mountaineering and tourism for survival.
The goal of this fund is to provide opportunities to Sherpa in the Khumbu region and beyond to better themselves and emerge from the shadow of Everest to take their place in the world. Through a series of small fundraisers, each aimed at an individual student personally affected by the earthquake, we hope to make a personal impact. Our goal may be small, but it will be lasting.
Kunsal Sherpa is from the small town of Phortse in the Khumbu region of Nepal, near the foot of Everest. Kunsal's dream is to be the first from his village to earn a Master's Degree, and before April 25 he was well on his way. But the earthquakes on April 25 and May 12 may cost him that dream; Kunsal was forced to use the student loan meant for his college tuition to repair his family’s home in Phortse. Without our help, he will not be able to return to school.
The $3,000 goal of this fundraiser will pay for the rest of Kunsal’s Bachelor’s degree before he moves on to his Master’s degree in Business Administration.