A Scholarship to Help Lhakpa with Dawa’s Education
After meeting the family of their Sherpa guide, Nepal trekkers decide to fund a scholarship for his son’s education.
HOW WE GOT STARTED
Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa is from a mountain village in Nepal called Phortse. He was one of the sherpas who guided our trek to Kalapathar, a peak about 1000 feet above Everest Base Camp. He is a quiet, calm and gentle man with a generous spirit. Lhakpa’s presence put us all at ease during the long and often challenging climb.
While trekking we asked Lhapka if he had ever climbed to the summit of Everest, a feat we were told that only about 1500 people have ever accomplished. He told us that he had summitted Everest twice as a guide and was planning on making the hike again this year. We were confused as to why he would risk his life to summit a third time, having just visited a memorial honoring the 300 people who had died in their attempt to summit. He got very quiet and then told us that it was the only way that he could make enough money to send his son to school, and he wanted him to have a better life than he had. He said he wife did not like it and worried about him while he was gone.
He touched our hearts when he invited us to his home for tea and to meet his family. As we were sipping the delicious Sherpa tea that his wife had brewed, Lhakpa presented each of us with a Kata. (Katas are Tibetan silk scarves that are often given as a gift at special ceremonies or before travel with the intention of bringing safety and prosperity to the receiver) The room fell silent and most of us welled up with tears because we were so taken by his special and generous gift. This was something we would always treasure and knew that the cost of the scarves most likely exceeded his income for the day.
We enjoyed meeting his lovely family. His wife Pasi filled our cups, smiled and seemed genuinely happy to have us visit in her home. His daughter Furb is 15 and an athlete who placed 5th in the Everest Marathon (a 26.2 mile run on Everest!). She no longer attends school, as girls do not generally go past grade 5 because they need to help their mothers take care of the house and family. Dawa is Lhakpa’s 17 year old son who is attending school in Khumjung a village about 2.5 hours from their home.
We asked Lhakpa how much tuition was for Dawa and how many more years of education he had. He said that school was $1000 a year. This included tuition, books, food and the cost of the boarding house he stayed at. He shared that he had 4 more years left to attend. We asked if he would consider a scholarship for Dawa from us and he accepted. All of the trekkers decided to help and Lisa Bouchard volunteered to coordinate the project and make sure that we could cover all of Dawa’s educational expenses. Lhakpa would now have a choice about climbing Everest and would not have to potentially risk his life guiding in order to send his son to school. On our way down the mountain we visited Dawa at his school. We were able to meet some of his friends and to see the house where he lived.
An education in Nepal is not nearly as accessible as in the states and opens up a number of future opportunities. The Everest climbers have already collected enough money for Dawa’s education for 2009. Please let us know if you would like to learn more or if you would like to contribute to Dawa’s future education.