Our Thame Valley
Thame (pronounced "Ta-may") Valley lies 20 miles west of Mount Everest, in the upper Khumbu region of Nepal [take a glimpse by clicking here]. It is the heart of Sherpa country, a string of high-altitude villages stretching from the market town of Namche to the border with Tibet. Chances are that a man chosen at random has climbed Everest; virtually certain is that every villager has lost a relative or friend to the mountains. [Read this piece by Jemima Sherpa]. Tenzing Norgay, who was the first person to climb Everest, alongside Ed Hillary in 1953, grew up in Thame. The world record holder for most Everest summits (21), Apa Sherpa, hails from Thame. The guide who has seen the most clients summit Everest under his watch, Lakpa Rita Sherpa is also native to Thame. Feats of human accomplishment come from here, and tragedy is also a regular visitor.
When the M7.8 scale earthquake struck Nepal on April 25th, 2015, it took countless lives across the region. It also destroyed most of the homes, the school, community structures and monuments in Thame Valley. Worst affected were the three villages of Thame-Ong (Lower Thame), Thame-Teng (Upper Thame) and Yulajung. Traditional Sherpa houses of rock, timber and mud plaster were reduced to rubble. These were homes that housed three generations - grandparents living with their adult children and grandchildren - and livestock. They were the bedrock of each family's livelihood.
Just as the community was beginning to take stock, a M7.3 earthquake struck less than 50 kilometers from Thame Valley on May 12th, 2015. Early rebuilding efforts fell to pieces, and buildings cracked by the first earthquake finally caved. Ninety percent of households were left homeless. Landslides on the trekking trail to Thame obstructed access by all but helicopter, and the regular distribution of construction supplies was disrupted. Prices, already among the highest in Nepal, skyrocketed. Periodic aftershocks continued throughout the year, rattling nerves and bringing down morale.
Thame Sherpa Heritage Fund was initiated by Sherpa leaders and supporters to assist in local reconstruction with an eye to long-term value. We are a U.S. 501(c)(3) charitable organization run by Thame leaders young and old, experts and independent advisors, to ensure that resources are distributed in an equitable, sustainable, and culturally sensitive manner. We believe that local participation and representation is more important now than ever. The road of rebuilding is long and arduous, and urgently require resources as emergency relief efforts have faded away.