One American’s gift to Nepal

Washington DC:

The children of Chaurikharka in the Everest region will stay warm this winter. They will be receiving fleece jackets collected by American school kids just before the harsh Himalayan winter begins.

Sally Hunsdorfer from Marion, a small town in Massachusetts, will be carrying the donated woolies and other knickknacks on her trip to Nepal in October. This isn’t the first time she’s made this type of delivery. On her last trip to Nepal early this year, she brought over 500 donated fleece jackets to distribute to children in the remote parts of the Himalayas.

For Hunsdorfer, it’s all about

bringing people closer and making a difference in their lives. She is even thinking of having a picture of a Western child on the fleece jacket so that the child wearing it in Khumbu can establish some sort of connection with the face in the picture. After all, she says, the more personal you can make the connection, the more chance you have to transcend all barriers and bond together.

Soon after her first trip to Nepal in 1997, Hunsdorfer says she came across a quote that read, “The world is big enough to explore, and small enough to make a difference.” Ever since then, she decided to do more than just revel in what she calls her educational and spiritual trips to Nepal. The non-profit Himalayan Project that Husdorfer founded is raising funds to expand a local school built by Sir Edmund Hillary. Her project is endorsed and supported by the Marion Institute, a think tank that seeks to create a sustainable future for the planet and its inhabitants. It is the same institute that supported 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement.

The project plans to provide modern facilities to the school and has already opened a library. It will also establish a community center to help preserve the Sherpa culture. Hunsdorfer says she plans to educate Sherpas to become teachers. Teaching is generally not a profession that Sherpas choose, but the region needs Sherpa teachers to pass on their heritage to the next generation of Sherpas, she says.

Meanwhile, Hunsdorfer’s efforts to help Nepal has sparked interest in other U.S towns and neighboring states. A bookstore owner, she says she goes around giving talks on Nepal to school kids and even adults and that their response to what she calls her passion has been overwhelming.