Sherpa Lodge rebuilding continues thanks to support from Grand County
Nearly two full years after a late night fire burned their guest lodge to the ground the Sherpa family of Nepal continues to rebuild their lives thanks in large part to the generosity of their friends in Grand County.
In late Nov. 2017 Tashi and Lakpa Sherpa were at their home, the Ama Dablam Lodge in Kyangjuma Nepal, high in the Himalayas, when a late night fire outbreak quickly engulfed the building. Within half an hour the conflagration destroyed the lodge, and with it the Sherpa’s primary source of income. Thankfully neither the Sherpas themselves nor their guests were harmed in the incident but the sudden tragedy put their future, and the future of a Colorado based nonprofit they help lead, into question.
The Sherpas are a common feature of summer in Grand County and can often be found selling jewelry from a sidewalk kiosk in Winter Park. Every year during summer months, as monsoon rains inundate Nepal, the Sherpas make the long journey from their home high amongst the world’s tallest peaks to Middle Park, where they live and work while awaiting the start of the busy season back home.
Over the years the Sherpas have made close connections with dozens of local citizens and in 2002 they began working with Sandy Kukoy and others on what would eventually become the locally based nonprofit Nepal: Here to Help. Each year Kukoy and a network of volunteers and donors team up with the Sherpas to provide monetary support for Nepalese children to ensure their ability to attend school.
The loss of the Ama Dablam Lodge in 2017 jeopardized not just the Sherpas themselves, but the continued viability of their work providing assistance to struggling children from their native land. It was not long though before local citizens began pitching with donations. Rebuilding efforts were underway just a few short months after the fire. Last winter the lodge began accepting guests, though Tashi Sherpa says construction on the project remains in the works. The Sherpas expect to spend at least two more years finishing work on the lodge.
“The lodge is a lot better,” Tashi Sherpa said with a smile, “Thanks to Grand County.”
She noted that her husband, Lakpa, has remained in Nepal during the last two summers as he works to complete as much of the project as possible before masses of tourists begin ascending the high mountain passes of Nepal during climbing season.
Her son, Karma Sherpa, explained some of the details.
“As of yesterday my dad started working on the pavement between the two buildings,” Karma said. “The majority of the work has gotten done, but we still have a lot left to do. When guests come though the fire is on and the kitchen is warm.”
According to Karma the majority of outstanding work on the lodge is centered on stone and cement work with some outstanding finish carpentry with various odds and ends. Karma noted that all work on the lodge is done by hand, no power tools are used and all materials are hauled to the construction site via human porters.
Total rebuilding costs on the lodge are estimated at around $300,000 of which Grand County citizens have pitched in a significant portion. According to Kukoy, one of the founders of Nepal: Here to Help, by Dec. of 2018, just one year after the lodge burned down, citizens from Grand County alone had provided over $40,000 for the lodge rebuilding efforts.
Kukoy noted that funds donated to Nepal: Here to Help were not used for the Sherpa’s lodge rebuilding efforts and a separate fund was established to help cover construction costs.
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Diane Howell, 77, only leaves her house right now for errands and essentials. As part of the age group considered most vulnerable to COVID-19, she’s felt isolated as she avoids most social interactions.