Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pressing on.

Mingma came to see us off the next morning as Dawa and his crew broke down our camp. He thanked me again for helping with his home and pledged to post photos as the reconstruction continued on. We hugged, then I set off with the group, trekking to Pangboche.
Jess visiting a monastery.
It felt good to be underway again as we traversed one side of the valley, gaining altitude over the course of the four hour trek to Pangboche. The weather was pleasant, the vistas magnificent, and the mood of our group was upbeat, having redefined our home building objective and declared victory.

We stayed that night in a lodge that boasted a visit by President Jimmy Carter many years ago. I bought a shower that evening and tried to imagine the former peanut farmer shivering in the same makeshift enclosure where I bathed, water falling freely through a hole in the floor while a bare light bulb dangled above. The proprietor set a fire to burning in the yak dung stove as we settled into the common room for dinner. This far up the Khumbu Valley almost everything on the menu consisted of some configuration of potatoes, rice, or pasta. Owing to government regulations of the national park these villages reside in, any fresh meat had to be butchered outside the boundaries, in Lukla, then carried in. Any such meat would spoil before making it this far up the valley, so canned tuna and spam were the only options. Still, we enjoyed our meals then played cards for an hour or so until everyone stalked off to bed.

I asked Dawa to summon representatives of the Pangboche clinic and school while we ate breakfast the following morning. By the time we finished our meal they had arranged several chairs running side by side across the patio. We were seated as dignitaries by the representatives and tea was served as I explained the purpose and mission of One Sherpa Home. On behalf of our donors and the assembled away team, I presented each institution with a cash sum of $250, the remaining resources in our coffers. You might have thought we were handing over the keys to a new hospital for all the gratitude that followed, including ceremonial khatas, hand shakes, and beaming smiles. Remote villages like Pangboche have so little to begin with, and with the tragic events of the last two years what modest income they enjoy from trekkers and climbers has been slashed. But people still get sick and children still need an education. So cash infusions like ours go a long way. I thought about the generous donors to OSH and wished they could have all been present to see the good their money was doing.

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