|Mingma's home as of November 18,2015|
I heard from Mingma shortly after my return from Nepal. He sent me a message through Facebook that read ;
Namaste dave sir
i got a wifi connection after a long.. i did all the expenses after all that all my personal money is not enough... the workers wages are too expensive thats out of my money ...so if you can then i need about $6000 for the complete of my house ... please dave i know i owe you a lot but i need your help.. and i know you will help me ....
To westerners this might seem audacious ...to keep asking for more. And I have to admit it felt pretty shitty. But then I reminded myself that the cultural chasm between Mingma and I is indeed vast, vast enough that I cannot assume what is rude in my world might not be course of business in his. I was also surprised by the amount Mingma requested. I had run the numbers past several Sherpa not connected with the project and they all thought the aid One Sherpa Home had provided (approximately $12,000 all in) was enough to rebuild the home. As well, I knew a few of Mingma's past climbing clients had also given him money. Mingma never disclosed how much of his own money was going into the project, nor the amount bid by the contractor, so it was impossible to establish his level of financial need versus want. I have come to understand that most Sherpa's believe westerners are all rich enough that dropping $6,000 here and there is of no consequence to them, yet that same amount is equivalent to 5 years wages for the average Sherpa. So they probably feel there is no harm in asking. I get that, but I was already into the project to the tune of $10,000 in addition to what OSH provided and, given the factual voids in the project's budget, could not put more into it.
I replied to Mingma with this message;
I am sorry Mingma, but I have done all I can do. You will have to find help from someone else.
That was it. No reply came. No word at all. Weeks passed as I wondered how construction was going ...IF construction was proceeding. So I sent Mingma a message last week asking for a picture of his home. He sent the above photo a few days later. No words came with it.
When we left Phortse a month ago there was just a foundation with rebar reaching 12 feet into the air. The current photo shows quite a bit of work has been done since then. Though some of it deviates from the design Trevor put together (such as using traditional stone walls without gabions) the basic structure looks pretty true to form. I look forward to seeing Mingma's home completed. For all he and I do not understand about each other, it seems clear we share this common goal.