The creation of an association

The increase of climbers coming to the Himalaya for summiting the highest mountains of the Earth, has given the opportunity to many Sherpas to work for them during their expeditions. Even though the climbing Sherpas/high altitude porters are earning much more than a Nepalias annual salary when they participate in an expedition, the risks taken are without doubt incomparable and many Sherpas have died since the first expeditions started in the early 1920.

Norbu Sherpa, as a Sirdar and well-known climbing Sherpa, has lost numerous friends in the Himalaya these past years. He is aware of the difficulties and problems faced by the widows and close family members after the death of their husband, son or father. He has been faced with the deep sorrow and desperation of these families, their doubts about continuing the education of their children, and ensuring basic needs such as feeding the family and maintaining adequate life conditions after such tragedies.

Numerous Sherpas have moved with their wife and children from their village in the Himalaya to the city of Kathmandu to pursue opportunities to find a job as a climbing Sherpa. So doing they can offer their children the opportunity to receive an education, which is unavailable in their villages, where sometimes there is no access to school. However this means a change in lifestyle, especially for the women who are often uneducated and therefore have great difficulty finding a job in the city, whereas they had their own farming activities and production in their village. To return to the village after a tragedy, means interrupting the children education and cutting short their professional potential. Even if they decide to follow the steps of their father, education plays a fundamental role.

We, Norbu Sherpa and Andrea Zimmermann, take heart in supporting these wives and their children, in order to offer the opportunity to the children to pursue their education and for those who wish to work in mountaineering, to help them after their elementary school to obtain specific mountain training, which is unaffordable to the majority of the climbing Sherpas. Each year, Sherpas perish while they work hard and take high risks in fixing ropes, securing the mountain, carrying heavy loads and preparing routes for the expeditions of Western climbers. The pressure of earning good money, in order to feed their families and pay the school fees of their children overrides their lack of adequate mountain training and poor or non-existent social security.

By participating in one of our Expeditions, including Peak climbing or Trekking or by making a donation, you help us to achieve our goal: to help the families of the disappeared heroes of the Himalaya to go on with their lives and offer their children access to education, which has an immeasurable value

We express our heartfelt thanks for your generosity!

How the funds will be used

Half of the funds will be distributed directly by us to the families thanks to the personal contact of Norbu Sherpa.

A follow up of the children is regularly made in order to track their progress and guarantee their needs are catered for thanks to the funds of the Butterfly Project.

Norbu Sherpa was born and grew up in the Kanchenjunga Region, a remote part of Nepal at the foot of the third highest Peak of the World, the Kanchenjunga (8,586m). It is very important for him that his fellows have the chance to access to appropriate climbing and mountaineering education.

The other half of the funds will be allocated to the climbing Sherpas from the Kanchenjunga area to offer them adequate instruction from professional mountaineers and therefore limit the risk of their work in the mountains.

The Sherpa People

The Sherpas migrated to Nepal, Solu-Khumbu four or five centuries ago from eastern Tibet and nowadays represent Nepal’s most famous ethnic group. Their name, locally pronounced ‘sharwa’, means ‘people from the East’. They still maintain the highest permanent settlements in the world, up to 4,700 meters , which accounts for their legendary hardiness at altitude.

Before the 1830s, until the arrival of potatoes cultivation enabled a settled lifestyle, the Sherpas were nomads, driving their yaks to pasture in Tibet and wintering in Nepal. Cross-border trade is currently mostly one-way, with everything from butter, noodles, and meat to electronics, carpets and cement making its way south from Tibet. However, such commercialism does not mean Sherpas are not devout Buddhists, and most villages of note support a Gompa (Monastery) and a few monks/nuns. With the beginning of the first expeditions, the Sherpas worked as high-altitude porters, giving them the reputation of ‘tigers of the snow’ and at the same time teaching them climbing techniques. With the success of the British Expedition in 1953, Tenzing Norgay achieved worldwide fame for his people.

Butterfly Help Project 2017 progress

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