Karma’s Story

I was born in a very small, isolated village in the Mount Everest region of Nepal. I grew up with very limited material resources and opportunity. I was born in a family of 9 children and had to go through a very difficult financial situation. One generation before us, our country was ruled by a dictatorship (RANA) from 1846 until 1951. During that period the Rana family had assessed the impact of education on the general populace and its potential threat to their rule. They determined that the populace should not be educated. So, everyone was illiterate during my parents’ generation because of this poor vision that was carried out by the dictator family. There wasn’t any single school in my region during that time. Somehow my father managed to self-study and learned how to read and write. He was the only literate person in the entire community. Soon after the freedom declaration from Rana, the people of the community needed much help with legal paper work such as property ownership titles and other documentations. My father was a great social worker and dedicated his whole time to the community without receiving any pay. My mother did not have a paying job and she had to raise all 9 children by herself working on a small farm.

Unfortunately, while my father was serving for the community, he suffered from a very serious illness. I was just 3 years old at that time. He couldn’t afford to go to the hospital for medical treatment in the city and there wasn’t any hospital in the region. Sadly, after being sick for about 4 months, he passed away, leaving the whole family without a father. After his death, our family had to go through many more challenging times. Even as a child, I was always dreaming of overcoming these challenges and making changes for my family and the community. I decided to leave my home town at age 17 and went to the city to find a job to support my mother. When I got to the city, I started to look for a job and finally found a job as a porter carrying gear for mountaineers in the mountains. I had to carry loads of 80 pounds on my back and cross over passes at 19,000 ft. This felt very challenging and was a risky job for me at that age but there was not any other choice for me. Fortunately I met a couple from Colorado when I was guiding and they invited me to come to Colorado in 1999. I have been living here permanently since 2001. During the civil war in Nepal (1998-2009) I could not travel to Nepal because of the political dangers. In 2009, after 9 years, I was finally able to visit my family. When I was there, I visited the school where I went to kindergarten. I had an opportunity to talk with the teacher about improving the quality of education. After a long conversation with the teacher, he told me that parents were not cooperating with the education system, which made it very difficult for them to improve education for children. We decided to have a meeting that evening with the parents and teachers at my family home. We had an open discussion about the situations. The parents, especially the mothers, responded and said they felt very shy to attend PTA meeting because all of them were illiterate. I believe that if the mothers were educated, the whole family would be educated, so we decided to find a way to educate the mothers. After I came back here from that trip, I started sharing this story with my Friends and was able to raise some money to start a literacy program to teach these women how to read and write. This program has been very successful and we opened 3 literacy schools since 2009.

Since Nepal is one of the poorest country in the world, people have been struggling for changes for a very long time. Meanwhile, we had a historic earthquake in our life. More than 10,000 people were killed and thousands of people were injured. Thousands of family and children were displaced. Many houses and schools were destroyed. This destructive earthquake put the entire country in darkness. During this tough situation, I immediately decided to coordinate an on the ground immediate disaster relief team. This relief team worked very effectively during such a tough and devastating time. We provided medical assistance, temporary shelter, food, water, blankets, mattresses, etc. With the generous donations from our donors and our hard working Sherpa teams on the ground, we were able to save thousands of lives. I am thankful to the Frasca family and all my wonderful friends who gave me full support during this hardship.

Moving forward for rebuilding community. First of all I believe, it is important to rebuild their lives to make a sustainable community. During this difficult time, people had to go through both mental and physical challenges. After living in temporary shelters for the whole monsoon season, their health conditions may have been negatively impacted. Therefore, I am planning to lead a team of 10 doctors and nurses from the USA and a team of 6 Nepalese doctors and nurses from Nepal. We will be setting up a free health camp in a remote village from October 4th to 13th. This camp will benefit thousands of locals who needs medical assistance.

I think it is very important to build structures using more effective methods so that people do not have to go through the same situation in the future. I thought it would be better to consult with knowledgeable architects and engineers on how to bring better building concepts to Nepal based on local materials. By reusing existing materials, it will be more cost effective, environmentally and culturally more friendly for the local community. Additionally, I am planning to coordinate to train the local community on how to build earthquake resistant homes through this project. If we are able to teach the local people how to build earthquake resistant homes, they can use these skills and will be capable to rebuild their own community. This project will not be only for one community, it will be the model for the whole country. This rebuilding school project will bring back hope of a brighter future for many children in Nepal. Thank you so much for supporting the school project.

Nepal needs political and economic changes and I believe that the change will come through better education. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and learn more about me.

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