KATHMANDU, NEPAL -- February 20, 2022 -- Over 300 school children in the remote villages of Patle, Talkot, and Kaltike, Okhaldhunga Province, will be able to brave the elements and pursue their education this winter thanks to the efforts of international trekking friends who provided the students with warm outerwear.
Kathleen McCabe, Valley Center, California, USA, Diane Savard, Montreal, Canada, and Adrienne Jessop, Bedford, England, spearheaded the effort after learning of the challenges the students in these remote regions faced in attending school during the harsh winter months.
It all started in 2021, during a trek to Everest Base Camp when the three, along with Sarki Sherpa, a Tour Leader and Co-founder of Soul Himalaya Treks & Tours, Kathmandu, came up with the initiative to help the students of Patle. "On our trek, we learned that often children in Sarki's home village of Patle, Okhaldhunga, cannot get to school as they have no warm outerwear," said Kathleen McCabe. "It was heartbreaking to understand that some of the children walk over two hours each way to class, and without warm clothing, and facing cold, wind and snow, they simply can't attend school."
The trekkers who had met in 2019, on their first trip to Nepal, had stayed in close communication with Sarki Sherpa, an alumnus of Patle School. “In our discussions with Sarki, on the Everest Base Camp trail in October 2021, we became more passionate about realizing his dream of supporting the school and the students of his home village,” McCabe explained. “We took this insight home with us, and started the “Coats for Patle” project. In our first efforts, we raised over $2000."
As the summer of 2022 approached, and after discussion with Shree Patle Secondary School Principal Lakpa Sherpa, it was decided that the priority for the funds raised was school uniforms. "With additional funding from generous donors Nabita Thapa , Kathmandu, and Yangdi Sherpa, Belgium, we were able to provide custom tracksuit-style uniforms to the children of Shree Patel Secondary School," Sarki Sherpa explained. The uniforms were locally-produced by Dawa Wear, Kathmandu.
Volunteers Sarki Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, Lakpa Sherpa, Upen Mongoliyan, and Pasang Sherpa of Soul Himalaya Treks & Tours, Kathmandu (soulhimalayatreks.com) then coordinated the distribution effort in conjunction with Shree Patle Secondary School Principal Lakpa Sherpa. "It was a tough drive to Patle after so much damage to the road during the monsoon season," shared Sarki Sherpa. "But it was so worth the effort to bring new uniforms to more than 250 children."
In the Fall of 2022, the project was energized once more, and all three international friends raised money to fund winter coats. "We had a common goal," Diane Savard commented. "In all, we were collectively able to raise over $7500 to purchase coats for the children of Patle, as well as new uniforms and coats for the children of nearby villages of Talkot and Kartike," she added.
The trio recently flew to Nepal, with supporter Jenny DeLillio of San Diego, California, to distribute the winter jackets to the children of Patle themselves, and brought with them additional quantities of warm knit caps, gloves, and scarves. They were joined by Soul Himalaya Treks Assistant Guide Lakpa Sherpa, and support team Upen Mongolian, Chiring Sherpa, Pasang Sherpa and Sharana Sherpa. The volunteers then trekked in coats and uniforms to Shree Bhumesthan Adharbhut Vidhyalaya in Talkot, and Shree Janakalyan Adharbhut Vidhyalaya in Kartike, meeting parents, teachers and children in the villages. "These three friends made a personal and financial commitment to support my village school and schools in the surrounding area," said Sarki Sherpa. "I am very thankful for their help and generosity."
Joined in a Shree Patle Secondary School assembly and welcome ceremony by Lakpa Sherpa, Principal, teachers, local Patle Village Council representatives, parents, and members of the Shree Patle Secondary School Former Student Association, the foreign volunteers distributed new fleece- lined, water-resistant coats to all Patle schoolchildren.
In his remarks to the Shree Patle School assembly, Sarki Sherpa, speaking on behalf of the volunteers stated, "We all hope that this is seen as an encouragement for the students to focus on, and continue their education. By taking away the barrier of the cold elements, they now have a better chance of attending school and completing their education," he added."
In her remarks to the Patle school children, McCabe stated, “Our hope is that the children can feel the warmth in our hearts and the warmth from these coats.” “The grinning faces of the students in their coats and colorful hats did, in fact, warm our hearts,” Adrienne Jessop commented.
“We are so thankful to all the individuals and organizations who supported us, and it fills our hearts to have made a difference in these children's education,” said Diane Savard. ”We want the children to succeed in their studies and in their lives," she continued.
"Seeing the students' faces light up with joy was a wonderful experience," said Sarki Sherpa. "I am grateful to my international friends for their continued support of the children of Nepal, especially in Patle and our surrounding community.”
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