October 1st marked the anniversary date of our 45th year as a registered charitable organization! This issue features a nostalgic glance at some of our philanthropic history, the success of which continues to inspire and challenge us. Thanks to you, our supporters, we are able to continue to celebrate year over year accomplishments in the areas of Healthcare, Education, and the Environment in the Solu-Khumbu region of Mount Everest. I especially want to thank our major donors who have helped us significantly this year. We were so proud that the Zeke O’Connor School was able to work through the many challenges of COVID closures to help maintain their students learning during this period. ‘Zeke O’Connor High School Leads the Way’, local media news coverage here: https://thesiredmundhillaryfoundation.ca/zeke-oconnor-high-school-leads-the-way/
Our 45-year Journey with the Sherpas 1976-2021
No one knew the behind-the-scenes history of the Foundation better than our Founder, my fatherZeke O’Connor. In 2011, Wintergreen Studios published Zeke’s co-authored memoirs ‘Journey with the Sherpas’, the story of Zeke O’Connor and The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation. In his book, Zeke graphically depicts highlights of his personal life with a 35-year recognizance of his missions in Nepal. Zeke’s ‘Journey’ began with his good friend and fellow benefactor Sir Edmund Hillary, along with the guidance of Sherpa elders of the Solu-Khumbu region of Mount Everest. Together, with the establishment of The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation Canada, they built 13 village medical clinics and 17 schools, created a women’s literacy program, and designed a reforestation project that saw the planting of over 2 million seedlings, among their numerous early projects. During those 35 years and over the 10 years since Zeke’s accounts were published, we have continued to walk the walk with our Sherpa friends. Counted among our on-going projects are the successful completion of 11 medical scholarships established for local students who have all returned to work locally after their studies; 40 consecutive years of fully funding all of the operating costs of the Kunde Hospital; and the building and scholarship backing of the Zeke O’Connor High School, Phaplu. Since its inception in 2011, the administration has been providing quality education, cost free, to the children living in this remote Himalayan district. The school receives no funding from the government and remains dependent on aid from donor sources such as our Foundation. The communities of the Solu-Khumbu have been resilient despite the many trials they have had to face over the years, such as the devastating avalanches which affected the Sherpa guides and their families; the destructive effects of two major earthquakes in 2015 on their communities and now, managing a deadly viral pandemic. Those challenges really underscore how important it is for us to continue to help the Sherpas as they navigate through these difficult times. Our resolve to carry on Zeke’s Journey is strengthened by the Sherpas’ sheer strong nature and their determination to continue building a brighter, healthier future for their children. Please visit our website at www.thesiredmundhillaryfoundation.ca for more details on our history and accomplishments to date.
TIME TO CELEBRATE, IN GOOD TIME
Our ‘Next Generation’ committee of volunteers, NextGen, produced a successful virtual culinary event on April 10 of this year. ‘Night IN for Nepal’, was a delicious, fun, and superb evening, in turn, benefitting the ZOC High School. As more of our communities open, we will be looking forward to sharing news of our plans to celebrate our 45 th anniversary.
Classrooms are back in session, after a 6-month retreat from in-class learning! Earlier this year, I was pleased to introduce you to the launch of a brand-new ZOC School Newsletter, featuring the work of the student body’s budding amateur photographers and writers. The first seasonal publication in May showcased descriptive photos, fun events, and students’ activities at the Zeke O’Connor High School in Phaplu, Nepal. In their Fall-Winter edition, students talk about the innovative ways their administration has helped to deal with the school’s lockdown period — home schooling, and the creative use of computer technology were some of the ways the school has kept going. They are happy to be back learning in class despite still having to be ‘face mask to face mask’ with their instructors and peers. Check-out their colorful written accounts and their pictureperfect approach to communications on our website: https://thesiredmundhillaryfoundation.ca/newsletter-fall-2021/ This newsletter is emailed directly to you by our dedicated board member Mary Kaye, who established the ‘ONE Student, ONE Family’ program that really drives our financial commitment to the school. The newsletter is a project supported by our Foundation and the ZOC High School administrators. The goal is to inform and connect you to the ZOC school and its students, while at the same time encourage the creative and educational values of our partnership. We can’t thank you enough for your continued support of the Zeke O’Connor High School! If you wish to sponsor a child and join in the excitement of watching these children throughout their educational journeys, please click here to view how you can help through our ONE Student, ONE Family Program: https://thesiredmundhillaryfoundation.ca/projects/education/one-student-one-family-program/
News from the Kunde Hospital is that the battle to combat COVID continues to challenge the Himalayan region. Ventilators and rapid testing kits are now being used in local hospitals and clinics. On a high note, we are pleased to share that a most recent recipient of our medical scholarship, Nima Ongchuk Sherpa, has completed his medical degree in the Philippines and is now back in Nepal, training in a local hospital. Hearty congratulations go out to Nima and his supportive family, and best wishes from all of us for a bright and successful future in the field of medicine!
Stay well and stay safe!