Fourth-annual Sherpa Foundation benefit June 28 goes straight to the heart of Nepal | VailDaily.com

Fourth-annual Sherpa Foundation benefit June 28 goes straight to the heart of Nepal

VAIL — The more you do, the more you see what needs to be done.

Local businessman Pemba Sherpa started the Sherpa Foundation after earthquakes in his native Nepal killed thousands and left tens of thousands homeless.

Thanks to generous support from the Vail Valley and Pemba's local connections in Nepal, the Sherpa Foundation has built dozens of homes, rebuilt hundreds more and repaired more than 1,000 others.

And there is still so much more to do, Pemba said.

"There are layers of problems that even I didn't know about," Pemba said.

The Sherpa Foundation's fourth-annual update and fundraiser is Thursday, June 28, at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion.

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When a series of earthquakes devastated Nepal, Pemba wanted to speed to his home village. Instead, he stayed here, where he has his business — Sherpa Painting — and joined with some others to found the Sherpa Foundation.

"The valley supports my vision in Nepal. I'm proud to support the valley," Pemba said. "To gain the trust that the money is going where we say it is, that is a big responsibility. We have done so much that could take years and years for other organizations because of our connections."

Every dime, every time

No one gets paid to be part of the Sherpa Foundation. Every dime is spent to help people. When he started, it was important to stay under the Nepali government's radar. But that can be a challenge with the organization doing so much for so many Nepali people.

So last year, Pemba was summoned to Kathmandu to receive the Nepali Medal of Honor, that government's highest honor.

He sees how lucky he is.

"I couldn't be more blessed," Pemba said. "I am sometimes amazed by everything."

There's a home for disabled children. The kids find warm blankets around their shoulders and legs.

In Sotang, a remote farming village, villagers have no medical facility for giving birth. The nearest one is a two-day walk. It's common for women to give birth along the path on the way. Sometimes mothers and babies live; sometimes they don't.

The facility will help tip those odds in favor of life.

"It's human nature that, until we see something, we don't know we need to do something about it," Pemba said. "We cannot keep watching people die on that trail."

Still helping

At the other end of the life cycle, older people are suffering because young people are leaving. There's no safety net.

So, one of Pemba's goals is a senior center for the Sherpa community.

"In a developing country, the money goes a long way," he said.

A house in Nepal costs about the same as one section of a concrete driveway in the Vail Valley.

"A house is where everything starts," he said. "To repair their damaged homes and put a roof over their heads, that's where it begins."

Still, three years after the earthquake, many homes have not been built, especially those off the Everest trail.

"The earthquake is fading from memory, but there is still so much devastation. We can still do so much," Pemba said. "We need to build thousands of homes. We could do so much in such a short time."

To give people a look, Pemba is already guiding trips to Everest Base Camp and other places tourists would not think to go or aren't allowed to go. He has another one lined up for this fall.

"There are lots of benefits for those who go and for those who help guide," he said. "You can experience so much more and go places that are otherwise closed to outsiders."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

If You Go …

What: Sherpa Foundation fourth-annual Nepal Rebuilding Project Update.

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 28.

Where: Eagle-Vail Pavilion, 538 Eagle Drive, Eagle-Vail.

Cost: Entry is free and the food is complimentary, but remember it’s a benefit for people in one of the world’s poorest countries.

More information: You’ll get updates on everything the Sherpa Foundation is doing, plus a meditation lesson from Venerable Khenpo Lobzang, Ph.D., a teacher from the monastery in Crestone. A Q&A session will follow.

To Help

The Sherpa Foundation’s mission is to provide humanitarian aid to Himalayan communities, while preserving the dignity and integrity of Sherpa and Himalayan culture. The Sherpa Foundation is a non-profit organization, and your donation is tax deductible.

To donate, go to sherpafoundation.org, email support@sherpafoundation.org, or mail a donation to P.O. Box 2737, Edwards, CO 81632. The Sherpa Foundation is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, and your donation is tax deductible. To receive updates, e-mail support@sherpafoundation.org, or go to http://www.sherpafoundation.orghttp://www.Facebook.com/SherpaFoundation. ”>http://www.sherpafoundation.org, email support@sherpafoundation.org or mail a donation to P.O. Box 2737, Edwards, CO 81632. To receive updates, email support@sherpafoundation.org or go to http://www.facebook.com/sherpafoundation.