S Canterbury trampers to do needful for Sherpas

KATHMANDU: A group of South Canterbury trampers are heading to Nepal to follow in the giant footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, The Timaru Herald reported.

In April, members of the Geraldine Tramping Club

will travel to Damar, a small eight-house Sherpa village

near Mt Everest to help the people who have long been pivotal in climbing expeditions to the Himalayas. They intend furnishing the village with educational tools, solar panels, health care assistance and a spinning wheel.

The Timaru Herald reported co-ordinator George Hunter said the Sherpa people of Damar and eastern Nepal

had played a vital role in

most climbing expeditions

and were dragging themselves out of poverty.

“We want to give them a helping hand. Like most villages in eastern Nepal not on busy trekking trails, Damar is very poor. It lacks a safe and reliable water supply and has no lighting apart from kerosene lamps. The nearest school is a two-hour walk across the hills and basic medical help is three hours away,” Hunter said.

Damar resident Nigma Sherpa guides expeditions in the Everest region and will the lead the group. “Damar is reachable only by foot, which takes three to four days from the town of Jiri. The major problem is poverty, no sources of possible income, no market close

to the place and not enough farming land for growing

any supplies.” Hunter said there was a need for solar lighting in the village. There was no hope of electricity reaching most of rural Nepal, he said.

“Kerosene lamps are the main source of night-time lighting. Kerosene is expensive, it must be transported by truck to the road end, then carried by porters for several days. The lamps give a dim and wavering light, emit cancer-causing fumes and cause some devastating house fires.”

The Geraldine Tramping Club hopes to provide the children of Damar with lighting so they can study at night. Village women will be very pleased to have better conditions for craftwork, spinning and weaving after dark, Hunter said. “They can market their work at the bazaar and have a small independent income,” he said. “The village will be able to save money previously spent on kerosene lighting and use this for other limited resources, including basic healthcare.”