Nepali earthquake recovery pushed along by the local Sherpa Foundation
If You Go
What: Nepal Project Update
When: 6-9 p.m., May 12
Where: Eagle-Vail Pavilion
Information: It’s a party and update on the Sherpa Foundation’s efforts to rebuild homes and lives devastated by last spring’s earthquakes.
The Sherpa Foundation is a local 501-C-3 non-profit that puts money directly into Nepali villages devastated by the earthquakes.
To donate and for more information, go to sherpafoundation.org.
EDWARDS — The first anniversary of the initial Nepal earthquake came and went on Monday, with media reports that millions of aid dollars have not reached the victims, whose lives remain mired in rubble.
That’s not the case with the money you donated, Eagle County.
The Sherpa Foundation raised more than $100,000 in a few months and spent every dime rebuilding homes and lives in Nepal. Every dime went to earthquake victims because no one is paid to run the Sherpa Foundation.
Pemba Sherpa and others even paid their own travel expenses when they traveled to his home village to rebuild and repair homes — 110 when the hammering and sawing were through. They went to Nepal with plans to rebuild 57 homes.
Give yourselves a pat on the back, Eagle County, for helping make that possible.
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Second, as long as your hand is back there, reach for your wallet, because there’s still work to be done.
Nepal Project update
See for yourself how much has been done, and how much remains, when the Sherpa Foundation hosts a Nepal Project Update.
The event is May 12, the one-year anniversary of the second Nepal earthquake. It is in the Eagle-Vail Pavilion and features a short documentary by Alpenglo Media, which traveled to Nepal to film the rebuilding work and to swing the occasional hammer.
When the first of two major earthquakes rocked Nepal last spring and killed 12,000 people, Pemba’s first inclination was a jump on a plane. Instead, he launched the nonprofit Sherpa Foundation and had raised more than $100,000 in a few months.
Good planning, good luck
Because they were working in Pemba’s ancestral home, Cheplung Village, and because he knows the language and people, he managed to avoid roadblocks and red tape, both metaphorical and real.
Other agencies occasionally saw shipments of building materials stalled amid bureaucracy, corruption and a border spat between Nepal and India.
USA Today called it an “inconsistent government process.”
Pemba tends to be uninhibited when negotiating the best deal, asking people in their Nepali native language, “Hey, why don’t you give us another five bucks off the price?”
The money that would have rebuilt or repaired one house could be stretched to do a house and a half, Pemba said.
The Sherpa Foundation’s money also went further because no one in the organization is paid. They even paid their own travel expenses to Nepal to help supervise the construction work.
When they arrived, all the construction materials had already been delivered. All that remained was to hand out the money and begin working.
Karmic wheel rolls
“The Everest region is my backyard. I grew up looking at those mountains and guiding people to Base Camp,” Pemba said.
The karmic wheel keeps rolling. Pemba is a successful local business owner — Sherpa Painting — who says he’s happy to help.
“I was one of those people who needed help desperately. Anyone who knows or works with the Sherpa and lives in the United States, 90 percent are doing better than anyone living in Nepal,” Pemba said.
“There are so many struggles I came through. I’m not a millionaire, but I feel like one, especially with the struggles I’ve been through in my life,” Pemba said.
The Sherpa Foundation is small and will likely stay that way, Pemba said. And it helps that when it comes to working there, he has the home field advantage.
“Many people believe in large organizations, but you don’t really know where your money goes,” he said. “People should know who is handling the money. If they make a wrong move, your money could be wasted. It’s a shame because that money could help families rebuild their homes and improve their lives,” Pemba said.
No help, some hope
It’s different than anything we can conceive of in America. Suddenly people’s homes were destroyed and they had nothing, no help from anyone. There’s no homeowners insurance in Nepal, said Tyler Wells, with Alpenglo Media, who made a documentary film about earthquake recovery.
People were living in moldy tents with dirt floors, Wells said.
There’s no such thing as central heat. There’s usually one old-fashioned heating stove for the whole house. Wells slept in a zero degree bag when he was there in November.
They’re putting solar cells on the homes, and for many it was the first time they’ve had electricity or lights in their homes.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.