Locals lending a hand to Nepal after tragedy
Residents of Grand County tend to be a charitable bunch, often giving generously of their time and finances to nonprofits and community organizations. Next week citizens will get a unique chance to help the children of Nepal with Nepal: Here to Help’s Third Annual Benefit Dinner.
In 2015 the people of Nepal experienced a tragedy hard to comprehend in modern times. A massive earthquake rocked the nation and brought many people’s worlds crashing down.
As the horrors of the event became clear Grand County homeowners Sandy and Steve Kukoy ran into a pair of old friends for whom the tragedy hit, literally, close to home. Lakpa and Tashi Sherpa hail from Nepal’s high mountain trails in the Mount Everest region but spend the summer monsoon season in Grand County each year selling jewelry and working various jobs. When Tashi saw Sandy shortly after the earthquake devastated her homeland she had one question, “Can you please help?”
“It was devastating,” Sandy Kukoy said. “They asked if we could help them set up a dinner and raise money. We said if we are going to do this we need to do it formally.”
The Kukoys had visited Nepal several times in the early 1980s and have an affinity for the rooftop of the world. Prior to the 2015 earthquake the couple had helped Nepali causes on an informal basis. But after Tashi explained the devastation her village endured, houses turned to rubble, the Kukoys set out to work with the Sherpas to offer a helping hand.
Nepal: Here to Help, a nonprofit 501c3, was formed in response. While the organization was a reaction to the 2015 earthquake the foundation focuses its attention on improving the quality of life and extending educational opportunities to the children of Nepal.
The region of Nepal from which the Sherpas hail is a remote section of the Himalayas without roads or train service and on the route to Mount Everest Base Camp. Lakpa himself was a Sherpa guide for many years and has stood on the summit of Everest on two separate occasions. After retiring from that extremely dangerous line of work the Sherpas opened a mountain lodge popular with travelers heading to Everest.
There are few schools that exist in the region and no formal public education system. Instead children in Nepal must individually pay for their education, about $360 per year just for classes. If the children do not live in a town with a school they must travel for classes, staying in hostels rather than returning home each night, bringing the annual price tag to roughly $1,000.
Lakpa and Tashi are Nepal: Here to Help’s in-country representatives. The couple identifies kids in need and along with the Kukoys distributes those funds directly into the hands of needy families.
The Third Annual Nepal: Here to Help Benefit will begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Kukoy’s Cabin, located at 13026 US Highway 34 near Grand Lake. Lakpa and Tashi will prepare food for the evening along with their son Karma. On the menu will be vegetable and chicken curries, lentils and Nepali momos – a type of stuff dumpling.
The evening will also feature music entertainment from the Alpine Classic Duo, a Grand Lake based musical pair featuring keyboard and flute performances. Nepali jewelry, made by Tashi, will also be up for sale during the event. Sandy Kukoy proudly proclaimed 100 percent of all funds raised for Nepal: Here to Help goes directly to families and children in Nepal.
Neither the Kukoys, who head the organization, nor the Sherpas, who oversee operations in Nepal, receive a salary or any form of compensation from the entity, according to Sandy.
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