Austrian vows to rebuild quake-hit Dolakha village

KATHMANDU: When Josef Einwaller came to Nepal for the first time in 1988 as a tourist, he was mesmerised by the natural beauty of this Himalayan nation situated on the lap of Mount Everest. Since then, he has visited Nepal, which he says is his second home, for more than 45 times.

"Nepal is my second home," said Einwaller, a businessman from Austria, who loves mountain climbing and trekking.

During his long association with the Sherpas in his long mountaineering career, he was highly influenced by the Sherpa's life, their honesty and culture. He gradually developed emotional attachment towards them.

But his heart aches when he sees life of rural Sherpas known as the 'people of snow' and who dedicate their lives to mountaineering but are still living in sorry condition. "The Everest is a Sherpa mountain and it is just because of Sherpas, the tallest peak in the world is alive," Einwaller shared.

With the 2006 tragic Pumori incident, in which he lost his guide Thundu Sherpa in course of a mountaineering expedition, his aim of life took a slight turn. Since then he has been striving to do something that would help improve the livelihood of the people in Rolwaling area of Dolakha, the hometown of his guide.

"Rolwaling is like Nepal of 50 years ago with no electricity, mobile and internet facilities. It has been completely cut off from those facilities which seem as basic needs of this century of information and communications," he said. So, he has a dream that at least this village, a complete Sherpa settlement, would have electricity, communication and health facilities.

Chasing his dream, Einwaller managed Rs 2.5 million through crowdfunding at his home with the help of his team to construct a four-room hospital in Rolwaling, the first ever medical facility in the village, which is likely to come into operation from coming October.

He has a plan of opening hotels and restaurants on this route which, in his views, helps to promote the entire life of Rolwaling.

Besides, Einwaller is also financially supporting the family of Thundu since his tragic demise. According to Thundu’s brother Phurba Tenjing Sherpa, the tenth time summiteer of the Mount Everest, many tourists come to Nepal and leave without a trace. But there are a few like Einwaller who love Nepal and Nepalis from the heart. Einwaller and Phurba scaled the tallest peak together in 2012.

Einwaller, 64, is the oldest climber from Austria to do so.

He was in Kathmandu when the 'Gorkha earthquake' struck the country on April 25 last year, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring more than 21,000. Full of love for Nepal and Nepalis, he could not stay silent in those hours of grief.

He reached to the survivors of the disaster in Gorkha and Nuwakot with cash assistance and other materials support including clothes, foodstuffs and medicines.

He and his team are continuously working to support the quake survivors in Nepal, rebuilding the damaged roads, health posts, and community and school buildings.

Einwaller has already provided assistance to construct a Child Development Centre in Nuwakot and temporary buildings for Nigale-based Brhameshwori Lower Secondary School and the Sundarikanya Primary School at Dobhan village.

He is now in Nepal in his mission to help out the disaster survivors and the Rolwaling folks.

Dolakha is one among the 14 worst affected districts due to the Gorkha earthquake.