The Right Honourable Helen Clark is in the Everest region of Nepal this week, trekking the steep, winding tracks through the Himalayas up to Thyangboche (3870m), to visit the current and historic work of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust.
The trek is part of the celebrations taking place this year to mark 100 years since Hillary’s birth.
Today, May 29, also marks 66 years since New Zealander Hillary and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mt Everest in Nepal, the highest peak in the world.
“Trekking through this area is very special. As we pass villages clinging to hillsides, the yak and mule trains, and the tea houses, we have enjoyed the warm and generous welcome extended to all New Zealand visitors,” said Helen.
“All along the trekking route, I’ve met people who have been educated in the schools established by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Himalayan Trust. Many have gone on to become teachers, health workers, doctors, community leaders and to work in trekking and tourism. Education is always a catalyst for human development and I’ve been reminded of that every day here in Nepal.”
Helen visited Khumjung school, the first school built by Hillary in 1961, where she spent time reading a book on Sir Ed to young students and meeting with senior students. She also visited Kunde Hospital, built by Hillary in 1966, taking time to speak with the Doctor-in-Charge, Dr Kami, who began his education at a school built by Hillary in the remote village of Thame.
As well as experiencing the historical legacy, Clark has been seeing some of the earthquake-strengthened classrooms built to replace those damaged in the 2015 earthquakes and will also visit a new safe water system in the village of Musey. Generous donations from New Zealanders have made all these works possible.
Helen added: “Sir Ed worked tirelessly to raise funds to provide education and health care for people and for reforestation in this region of Nepal. Much of the money he raised was donated by the New Zealand public. It’s a privilege to be here in Nepal and see this legacy first-hand.
“Sir Ed was an inspiration for New Zealanders and for the Sherpa communities with which he worked. We can all be proud of his legacy.”