An overall objective of Hike for Help would be to foster a comprehensive strategy of small, focused projects with high impact, implemented by the local Sherpa community. Areas of involvement include:
(v) Economic Development
(vi) Environmental, Cultural, Spiritual and Historic Preservation
The following are initial descriptions of areas of effort for the umbrella organization.
The inaugural project to resurrect a trail along the west side of the Dud Kosi drainage create a much needed alternative to the existing trail along the east side of the drainage, while providing also much needed employment for the Sherpas of the villages of Syangma, Tate and Taksindu. More long term benefits of the newly constructed trail will be to draw new economic development to the west side of the drainage and aid in the development of education resources in these villages.
(The cost of goods will drop by 10-15% because of this trail will be about a day shorter in distance for mule, Jopkyo ( trained animal for carring supplies) and porters for transporting goods to Khumbu valley. This trail will allow quicker get away to Phaplu airport and walking to Jiri when tourists strands at Lukla due to bad weather. More resent news of stranded tourist one in Lukla, one in November, 2010 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20023461-503543.html and one in November, 2011
The villages on the west side of the Dud Kosi river, along the newly improved trail, would also benefit from the construction of new bridge over the river. Currently, an old wooden bridge exists south of the village of Tate. The wooden bridge is effectively temporary as it would be washed out during monsoon. A new, permanent and durable bridge, interfaced with the new trail, would aid in the economic and educational development of the region.
It is estimated that approximately $10K will be required for construction of the bridge, including materials and labor. Significant savings in construction can be accomplished by utilizing the cable from another bridge, retired from service. An immediate task is the collection and transport of the cable to the site of the new bridge, at a cost of $700.
As part of a strategy of relatively small, focused projects with high impact, the construction of public restroom facilities at optimum locations on the new trail (and other trails in the region) would greatly enhance the physical appearance of the area and its marketability as an eco-tourist destination in addition to improving environmental quality. The restrooms could be built with local labor and could be funded, in part, by subsidies from the Sagarmatha National Park Buffer Zone. The best technology for the restroom, such as chemical composting, would need to be researched.
There is currently a primary school in Syangma that suffers from depressed enrollment that can result in loss of subsidies to maintain the school and a teacher. Depressed enrollment is due to premature loss of students to schools in Katmandu. The loss of the teacher is not imminent but could occur within a year.
A future goal of the Hike for Help umbrella organization would be to enhance the resources of the primary school. In addition to increasing the number of primary school children the development of an adult primary education program will further strengthen the education program by inclusion of a population of adult students. In this regard, adults will need to be classified as to skill levels and approached with care. Cash subsidies will probably be required to incentivize adult attendance in the program. Development of a Sherpa History course, that includes information on sub-castes, will aid in the preservation of Sherpa culture, another objective of the organization.
Importantly, all of this effort would strengthen the school as a focus of community activities.
Currently, the closest medical care to Syangma and its neighbors is the hospital in Lukla, over an hour’s walk away. Even trail and bridge improvements will not change this significantly. A primary and urgent care clinic, staffed by, at minimum, a nurse practitioner would be ideal.
A more realistic approach to local healthcare would be to train the current primary school teacher as a paramedic or first aider. In addition, one of the first adult education classes could be in first aid and CPR techniques, to make first aid knowledge more widespread. In this regard, regular courses in health and nutrition would enhance healthcare objectives and could be implemented through the education program described above. Part of the local healthcare effort would include the creation and supply of a simple pharmacy.
Personnel at the hospital in Lukla would be made aware of the local healthcare effort and enlisted in a monitoring effort as well as emerging care. One of the first efforts in creating a communication network, described below, would be to create a link with the hospital in Lukla (and Phurba).
The clinic could be based in the school, further strengthening the school as a focus of the community.
To aid and coordinate resources in the region requires the establishment of a communication network capable of communications internal to the region as well as wider access to the Internet. Specifically, a robust communications network could significantly aid educational and healthcare resources.
The Hike for Help umbrella organization could participate in the establishment of a communications network based on Wifi hot spots produced with cell phones. As part of communication efforts Hike for Help would conduct regular meetings with locals to gather information from them regarding the needs of the region. What do local Sherpas believe is needed, how should the efforts of the organization be prioritized. This is necessary to get local “buy in” for Hike for Help projects and to prevent innovation from being a one-way communication.
V. Economic Development:
The umbrella organization could be utilized to seed a variety of economic development projects that would grow out of improvements in infrastructure, education and communications resources. The new economic development projects would add to the employment benefits already gained by local labor from the improvements in infrastructure, education and communication.
The donation agricultural labor saving tools, such as rototillers, would help to free Sherpas for educational, economic and cultural development efforts.
VI. Environmental, Cultural, Spiritual and Historic Preservation:
The development described above comes with the potential costs of losses in the environmental, cultural, spiritual and historic underpinnings of the Sherpas of the region. Thus, a significant preservation component of the umbrella organization efforts is required. This is important.
A local committee for maintaining the environment, interfaced with the Sagarmatha National Part Buffer Zone organization, should be organized. (Perhaps this already exists.)
A Sherpa museum could be formed. Sherpa dancing and singing could be taught.
A Sherpa oral history project could be organized to keep Sherpa history and culture alive and to encourage a dialogue between young and older Sherpas- to keep older Sherpas involved in the community.
Organize a “home stay” program to allow tourists to stay with Sherpa families. This will require the Sherpas to maintain a knowledge of their culture in order to disseminate information to the tourists.