One year on – the Himalayan Trust’s response to the Everest avalanche
In the mountain villages of Nepal, and in its capital Kathmandu, families, friends and fellow Sherpas are burning butter lamps to mark that sombre day a year ago, when 16 families lost their fathers, sons and husbands in a devastating avalanche on the slopes of Everest.
In a friendship with the mountain people of Nepal that dates back more than 50 years, the Himalayan Trust remembers and mourns with them.
Immediately following news of the avalanche on Everest on April 18, Good Friday 2014, the Himalayan Trust launched an appeal to help the families of the Nepali climbers who tragically lost their lives.
Sixteen Nepali climbers died in an avalanche that struck around 06:45 local time in an area known as “popcorn field”, just above Everest base camp at 5,800m.
Like many around the world, the members of the Himalayan Trust were devastated and appalled by the news. The incident is the deadliest accident on the world’s highest mountain. Many of the climbers were from the upper Khumbu area, where the Trust focus our development aid.
“The tragedy is a reminder that while Everest has increased in popularity and accessibility over the last 60 years, Nepalis have continued to bear much of the risk involved in summiting,” said Michael Gill, Chair of the Himalayan Trust.
“The Trust continues to provide educational opportunities for the people of Nepal Himalayas – as a step out of poverty and a path towards a safer more secure livelihood than that offered by guiding and portering in the treacherous mountains.”
With their sister Himalayan Trust organisation in the United Kingdom, the Himalayan Trust raised NZ $83,000.
“These funds have become an enduring fund to provide education scholarships – so children have a guaranteed schooling despite the loss of their fathers’ livelihoods”, said Gill.
“The Trust is hugely appreciative of the support we received from all around the world. From coin collections in work places, to clubs and associations such as the New Zealand Alpine Club and the International Avalanche Nest-Egg Fund calling on their members to support the appeal.”
The Himalayan Trust welcomes donations to their ongoing work. Please donate now: www.givealittle.co.nz/org/hhtnz
Sir Edmund Hillary founded and led the New Zealand based Himalayan Trust from 1960 until his death in 2008. The Trust continues Ed’s work with the peoples of the Nepal Himalaya to realise their educational, health, economic and cultural aspirations.
The Nepal Mountaineering Association were tasked by the government to manage the welfare of the families and the distribution of international funds. Through an MoU with the NMA and the Social Welfare Council, the Himalayan Trust Nepal were requested to manage the education scholarships for school-age children.
The 16 deceased mountaineers leave a total of 31 children.
- Three children are of adult age and of independent means.
- Another is a monk, and not requiring financial assistance.
- Two girls have just completed their high schooling and the NMA have accepted responsibility for any further education.
- Seven children are being sponsored by the Alpine Ascent Sherpa Education Fund.
- Our local implementing partner, Himalayan Trust Nepal, is managing the scholarships of all the remaining 18 children. This covers the completion of school, and includes the schooling of 10 children not yet at school. Funding is coming from the Himalayan Trust, Himalayan Trust (UK), American Himalayan Foundation and Fondation Benoît Chamoux.
Why did the Trust launch an appeal?
Disaster appeals are certainly not our core business – our programme of work is focussed on long-term community-driven programmes – mainly in the education and health sectors. However, within hours of the Everest avalanche on April 18, the Himalayan Trust was receiving calls from the public wanting to help. There was an expectation that the Trust would not only have a connection to the victims and their families, but would be supporting them.
The Trust held discussions with our partners and stakeholders in Nepal, to seek a comprehensive understanding of the needs and most appropriate approach. We also made contact with other international organisations who work in the mountain region of Nepal, to ensure the best possible outcomes for the families.
We have focussed on providing assistance that is consistent with our expertise and current programme. A scholarship programme for the children sits well with our extensive education programme of teacher training and salary support, student scholarships, and provision of educational resources in the Solukhumbu.
This is a commitment by the Trust to the families for up to 15 years.