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sherpaThe tragic avalanche between Camp 1 and Camp 2 of the Everest climb on the 18 of April 2014 dealt a devastating blow to the Sherpa community that has served the interests of the country and the adventure tourism industry over generations and in circumstances of high-risk.

13 climber Sherpa were declared dead, 3 missing and 6 injured. The Sherpa community has declared this as the most unfortunate incident to have taken place in Everest and all remaining expeditions for spring 2014 have been called off as a mark of respect for those affected by this tragedy.

In response to this tragic incident, the government and the Nepal Mountaineering Association met to address the pressing needs of the Sherpa community.

For its part the Nepal government has expressed its commitment to implement the following measures:

  1. A Mountain Climber’s Welfare Fund will be established. From the 30% royalty that the districts receive from climbing of a mountain in that district, 5% will be deposited in the Fund.
  2. The Climber’s insurance will be increased from 1 million Nepalese Rupees to 1.5 million Nepali rupees.
  3. The Medical insurance for climbers will increase from three hundred thousand rupees to four hundred thousand rupees.
  4. The Government will construct memorials for the climbers that lost their lives in the tragedy.
  5. The Government will permit climbing to new peaks under NMA, which will also be responsible for establishing the Climber’s welfare fund.
  6. If the insurance amount is insufficient, then the government is willing to increase the compensation to match the amount mentioned in number 2 above.
  7. The injured will be taken care of appropriately.
  8. Except for Rescue, the government will continue its policy to prohibit helicopter flights above the base camp.

These are all important measures but it is clear that if tourism is to provide the means for empowering Sherpa communities, then priority must be given to providing the communities with alternative career choices. This can only be achieved with education opportunities. So in this regard, the commitment of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, to take responsibility for ensuring continuity of education for mountaineer’s children that have died or disappeared during climbing is a significant response by the tourism industry organization.
Samden Sherpa, Executive Director Snow Leopard Trek P and General Secretary for Cunina Nepal said “it is paramount that the Sherpa community are provided with educational opportunities that will enable them to make a wider range of career choices, besides the current and overwhelming focus on mountaineering–regardless of the risk involved in it”.

It is this primary need in the mountain communities, which led to Snow Leopard Trek to found the Alpine Valley School, which now offers education scholarships to marginalized mountain children through partnership with Cunina Nepal which currently provides scholarships for around 1,000 Nepal mountain children.

In Nepal, 30% of the population is illiterate, despite the fact that primary education is free and mandatory for all children between 6 and 11 years old. In reality, only half of Nepalese children go to school. State schools tend to be of low quality, while private schools are too expensive for most children. According to Cunina, this is one of the reasons why children drop out of school prematurely.

The biggest challenge for Nepal today is to be able to provide quality education at an affordable rate for more than 40% of the population that fall below the poverty line. It is in this context that the Alpine Valley School was established on 30th April 2007. Organizations and individuals wishing to support the Alpine Valley School in the provision of scholarships for economically and socially disadvantaged children may participate by contributing either financially or by volunteering to serve the school.

Contact for further information:
Mr Samden Sherpa:
Executive Director Snow Leopard Trek/
General Secretary for Cunina Nepal