The Himalayan Project was conceived out of an incredible passion that Sally Hunsdorfer experienced after many journeys to Nepal and intense interactions with the Sherpa people in the Solu Khumbu or Everest region.
Taking care of an immediate need, Sally developed an interactive program called “A Day in the Life of a Nepali Child”, participating in schools throughout the Northeast and focusing on nurturing awareness and compassion among American school children for the plight and beauty of Nepali culture, At the end of each presentation, Sally asks students to donate any outgrown and unused fleece clothing which is then washed and packed into body sized duffle bags, flown to Kathmandu with members of The Himalayan Project team, and then finally carried by foot to extremely remote villages throughout Nepal. The Himalayan Project has also developed a pen pal initiative which aims to connect Nepali students with school children in America.
Ten years ago as Sally was traveling back and forth to Nepal, she started a “dialogue” with the headmaster of a school in the village of Chaurikharka. This school, started by Sir Edmund Hillary to originally serve 30-50 local village children, is still only one of two schools in the Everest region that can provide a complete education through grade 12. However, many decades later, 350 children throughout the mountains trek up to 3-4 hours a day to attend classes or live “on site” in stone dormitories and return home to their villages during vacations. Headmaster Biruman Rai has persevered there for 25 years giving direction and vision in spite of minimal and unreliable government support. He has clung to his dreams as he has doggedly worked and watched them unfold all within the original 2 stone classroom buildings built by Edmund Hillary almost 60 years ago.
The Himalayan Project has raised critical funds to support this dream of building a physical infrastructure to serve the immediate needs of an ever expanding student population. Over the years The Himalayan Project has funded the building of an enclosed hall to house the entire school under cover during the many months of the year when inclement weather reigns.....monsoons in the summer and snows in the winter. Along with this building project, The Himalayan Project has also funded a library replete with Nepali, Tibetan and English books, constructed classroom buildings for the addition of grades 11 and 12, renovated a school kitchen and cafeteria, and perhaps most importantly, initiated a scholarship fund for village children whose families cannot afford the $10-$20 per month that it costs to send a child to school.
Now The Himalayan Project is on the cusp of moving to the next level with a dream to have this school become a model for the preservation of the Sherpa culture. The ancient, Buddhist traditions of the Sherpa culture are becoming minimized and forgotten within the larger framework of a country that is 80% Hindu. The Himalayan Project goal is to offer a university education to young Sherpa women who have successfully completed their SLC [School Leaving Certificate] and return to their communities in the Everest Region to teach and pass on in a formal way the song, dance, storytelling, language and cultural heritage of this ancient and vibrant culture. Traditionally the Sherpa people have become involved in the tourism and trekking industry and all the teachers in the Everest region are Hindus who are paid an extra stipend to leave their families from "down valley" and move to the mountains to teach for a part of every school year. The Himalayan Project goal is to secure an endowment that would produce a yearly income to provide for several university tuitions and salaries for prepared young female Sherpa teachers.
If you would like to help support the goals of The Himalayan Project, please donate here.
Donate by mail
Please make checks made payable to the "Marion Institute" with "The Himalayan Project" noted in the memo line and send to:
The Himalayan Project
c/o Marion Institute
202 Spring St.
Marion, MA 02738
The Himalayan Project Leader