Donation to Namche Youth Group

This donation was made during our Xtreme Everest 2 trip in 2013

Jildou with our tour guides
Jildou with our tour guides

The breakfast room of the Khumbu lodge in Namche overlooks the town beautifully, as it is built in the centre of the ‘horseshoe shaped’ excavation of the hill. From there we can see why the town is actually called Namche Bazaar. At the south entrance, a hustle and bustle is going on, as was the case the day before, the weekly Friday and Saturday market. From far and away (up to 6 days walking one way) people come to sell and to buy at this market, the only one in a vast area.

Half an hour later we are walking across the market, guided by Ang Nurbu Sherpa, Chairman of the youth group of Namche. 15 Years ago, 17 young members of the community decided to organize themselves with the aim to provide social work and to preserve the environment. One of their rules (a member should be younger than 50 years old) has been broken, the youth club now counts 60 members, all contributing 1000 Nepali Rupees per year to sustain the projects. These include looking after trails and surrounding hills, repairs after landslides, and tree planting. Furthermore, they set up water hoses across town in case of fire, and provide payment for care if a porter falls ill or is too old to continue their job.

Whilst Ang Nurbu explains and points out, an intense and delightful smell of coriander and parsley is registered. We approach a market building without windows, but covered by a roof, next to the porter shelter. Both have been built with help of the youth group. The covered market hall gets really busy in the monsoon season, when all venders try to keep their wares dry. The porter shelter is open from early morning till late at night. Rezina Taman got up at 6 am this morning to start preparing for the meals that she sells to the porters at minimal prices, set and controlled by the youth group.

A porter can rest and refuel with a black tea and a plate of vegetable dal baht (vegetable curry, rice and lentil soup) for 115 Rupees, something that is normally sold on a teahouse menu for 60 and 500 Rupees respectively. If they prefer to cook themselves, a room at the back of the building facilitates to make a fire, cook, and enjoy the meal away from all elements of nature. On the first floor of the shelter, the porters can rest their heads. Seven bunk beds are set next to each other, covered with a mattress. Some of those are just a plastic cover, as the foam filling has been worn down. “These indeed soon need replacement”, Ang Nurbu reads our minds. Blankets are provided. On average, 10 to 20 porters will stay here overnight. But in peak season up to fifty porters shuffle in next to each other. Sadly, that is not the number in winter, when it is cold without any heating available.

Just outside are 2 public toilets and a shower heated by solar energy, for which 100 Rupees need to be paid to wash off the dust and sweat after days of walking. Cleaning and maintenance of these facilities is carried out by 2 employees, paid by the youth group. Apart from the normal ‘wear and tear’ of buildings, they face problems such as frost damaging the pipelines, or an earthquake, that happened two years ago.

We walk into the next building. Unanticipated, we feel a mixture of fascination at being faced with what almost looks like an anatomy class, all parts of different sorts of cattle are hanging on hooks across the room, being filleted, chopped up, weighed, packed up in plastic bags, before disappearing into the basket of the buyer. Ang Nurbu points out the rules of this meat-hall, that was also built with money from the youth group. Members of the group make sure these hygiene rules are followed by everyone. At the end of the market, 2-days, they also make sure the area is cleaned again.

In 2007, the Namche laboratory from Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition sold fleeces, raising $2000 for the youth group. That has been spent on the maintenance of the toilet facilities. This time, light-weight, easy drying, short sleeved t-shirts have been specially designed, and are being sold at $15. About $10 per shirt will be donated to the youth group. As we are wearing the shirts, Ang Nurbu can instantly admire them. Simultaneously, he can start dreaming about further projects to be started or maintained, by this fantastic group of dedicated Namche youngsters.

Written by Jildou van der Kaaij (Namche Laboratory Medical Officer)

Namche Youth Group

Created : 6th May 2013
26 images