“I attended Khumjung school for six years. Without that opportunity I wouldn’t be able to speak with you right now.” Dawa Phuti.
Dawa Phuti runs a busy trekking lodge in Lukla. When she was about seven or eight she was one of first pupils to attend Khumjung school, the first school built by Sir Ed Hillary in the mountainous Everest region. The school became known as the school house in the clouds.
Dawa told us about her early memories of going to the school and about the impact of education in their community.
First day, first school
“My father was educated, he was with Sir Ed on the 1953 Everest expedition. My grandparents and mother didn’t like me attending school though; they thought the girl’s role was to work collecting water and leaves.
“I remember Louise [Hillary] gave me a top to wear to school. At the time there were only three girls and 25 boys and we didn’t like school because there were too many boys and they would pull our hair and our dresses.
“Before Sir Ed built the school in Khumjung, we had no option of going to school – only the boys could attend a Lama School [religious teaching].
“I attended Khumjung school for six years. Without that opportunity I wouldn’t be able to speak with you right now. I wouldn’t have been able to run a lodge, I would be working behind the hill digging potatoes and collecting leaves.
“My husband also attended Khumjung School, but just three days a week. He was Sir Ed’s expedition cook for nine years, including while Sir Ed built the Lukla and Phaplu airstrips. But he never cooks for me – not even a cup of tea!
Education in the community
“Now all parents think that education is very important, we know that the value of a good education and so I sent both of my children to school.
“My main concern is the quality of education that is available here. Nowadays young people go to Kathmandu and abroad and don’t want to come back, they can have a better life in other countries.
“If we can provide quality education here, we don’t lose our language and culture.”
Dawa continues to support the work started by Sir Ed as a committee member of one of our local partner organisations, Himalayan Trust Nepal.
Find out more
- Meet Dr Kami: Dr Kami from the small mountain village of Mende attended a school built by Sir Ed and went on to become the first doctor-in-charge at Kunde hospital. His story that spans the whole of the Himalayan Trust’s aid work in the Everest region.
- Read more on our work supporting quality education and creating opportunities
- Building safer, stronger schools after the earthquakes
- The school community in Chaurikharka take the lead to build back better