Sir Edmund Hillary Project of the Rotary Club of Mount Victoria Inc, Wellington, New Zealand

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Sir Edmund Hillary

"To many Western eyes, the Everest region is a place of great beauty and high mountains to be conquered. For the Sherpas who live there however, life has few privileges. Medicine and Education are scarce, bridges and paths are often destroyed, and the forests upon which they depend are rapidly depleting. Despite these hardships, they are the most warm-hearted people I know. Any help you can provide will be so important and so gratefully received."

Sir Edmund Hillary

Fifty years after conquering Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary is still setting himself lofty goals. These days, it is those aspirations rather than memories of his historic climb that invigorate the 83-year-old adventurer.

"Building schools and hospitals, medical clinics and fresh water pipelines and re-establishing forestry'' were "the most worthwhile things we have done'' over the past several decades, Hillary said in an interview with The Associated Press. Hillary's trust has built two hospitals, a dozen health clinics, 27 schools, air landing strips, bridges and even restored Buddhist monasteries for the Sherpa people he vowed to aid back in 1953 in return for Tenzing's help in getting him to the roof of the world.

"I have been lucky enough to have had quite a few exciting adventures and I don't really attempt to decide which is the most dramatic. Everest of course had the biggest impact in the media and the world in general. But going to the South Pole and flying to the North Pole and driving jet boats into the Ganges and going up the Himalayas, they were all exciting activities."

The Himalayan Trust Everest Area, Nepal

The approach of The Himalayan Trust is aimed at long-term solutions to the problems that confront the Sherpas and other Nepalese living in the Everest district of Nepal.

Every project develops from a proposal made by the Sherpas who are expected to undertake preparatory work first. For example, in building schools or health clinics, the villagers must secure the freehold land, begin the rock foundations of the building and provide volunteers to transport building supplies. Sir Edmund and The Himalayan Trust provide funds for these along with technical help and advice on the job - as well as help with subsequent maintenance.

Local workers benefit from pay when working on projects. All workers from outside Nepal are volunteers. No money is paid to agents. The Trust relies entirely on voluntary workers, has virtually no overheads, as a result all donations are spent in Nepal.

The commitment by Rotary Club of Mount Victoria Inc. to Sir Edmund Hillary's work is long-term and from the heart. We are very proud of our partnership with him in the Himalayan Trust, an organisation he founded in 1960. Together, we have been able to bring essential services to the Sherpas.

In education: 27 schools where there were none, teacher training, adult literacy classes, scholarships. In health care: two good hospitals, Kunde and Paphlu, and 13 village clinics. For the environment: over a million trees planted, bridges built and microhydro plants installed. And for the soul of Sherpa culture: the restoration of Tengboche and Thame, the community's central sacred sites.

  • 27 schools have been built.
  • continuous repair and extension programme.
  • over 100 Sherpa and other Nepalese students receive scholarships annually.
  • 2 hospitals and 13 village health clinics have transformed medical and health care.
  • Almost 100,000 indigenous tree seedlings are nurtured, planted and protected each year, and more than 1 million have been planted in the Sagarmatha National Park.
  • 6 Sherpas, trained in New Zealand with Trust support, are now wardens of Nepal's National parks.
  • Initial building of Lukla airstrip.
  • Isolated communities are helped with rebuilding washed away bridges and tracks.
  • Drinking water systems have been constructed.
  • Rebuilding and Maintenance of Bhuddist Monasteries.
  • Above all, the Sherpas and other Nepalese people are being given the help which will enable them to overcome some of the harshness of their environment and to work for a better future.