Sotang School – Nepal
“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”
~ Sir Edmund Hillary
On May 29, 1953 a tall, quiet beekeeper from New Zealand, Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa companion, Tenzing Norgay stood atop the ‘roof of the world’ at 29,035 feet. It has been said that while many could have been the first to summit Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, it was only Sir Edmund who would return year after year to help the Sherpa people, whom he respected and loved so much.
In 1988 we traveled to Nepal for Alan’s 40th birthday. We were awed by the magnificence of the landscape and impressed by the kindness and resiliency of the Sherpa people. We are blessed and honored to have known Sir Edmund and his wife Lady June. So, when we set up the Grand Circle Foundation in 1992, he was one of the first leaders we asked to join as an Honorary Director. He did and Lady June succeeded him after his death in 2008.
We learned from them the importance to ask what people need versus telling them what we think they need, and that life lesson has stuck with us to this day. We were very fortunate to have this extraordinary couple who exemplify the spirit of adventure, discovery and giving back, advise us in our early years of philanthropy. It was a very special relationship and they are our heroes.
Sir Edmund and Lady June were especially keen to help the children. When he established The Himalayan Trust Foundation in the early 1960s, he asked one Sherpa this simple question, “If there was anything I could do for the Sherpa people, what do you think that would be?” The Sherpa replied, “Our children have eyes, but they are blind and cannot see. We would like you to open their eyes by building a school in our village”. Thus began his work to build schools, hospitals, and health clinics across the foothills of Everest.
Since 1992, we have donated $826,548 and worked in partnership with Sir Edmund’s Himalayan Trust to support the Trust’s 60 schools improve access, literacy and retention among the poorest regions; train hundreds of teachers in remote areas; provide safe drinking water and to recover and from the earthquake that devastated parts of Nepal in 2015.
Last September we asked you to help us honor the legacy of Sir Edmund and Lady June by contributing towards the construction of a 24 bed girls dormitory, toilets, washrooms and a dining hall at the Shree Birenda Jyoti Secondary School, also known as the Sotang School.
Considered the origin place of Nachhiring Indigenous Rai people, the time it takes for the children to attend school ranges from 30 minutes to 7 hours. Students who live within walking distance of half an hour to two hours normally attend the school from their homes daily. Whereas other students who cannot walk daily distance need to rent a room in Shivatar or nearby villages.
The students staying in this hostel are from poor farming families and some are disabled. The condition of their current building is dire and the need to rebuild is so urgent the local government has pledged to pay 40% of the cost. With your help we committed to cover the remaining cost of $116,000.
And recently we received an update from Himalayan Trust Foundation, please see the attachment below:
We are so grateful to our partner, Himalayan Trust Nepal for their detailed oversight.