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AAC Member Summiting for Nepalese Orphans

Posted on: June 25th, 2010 by Erik Lambert

Fleming and Kami with Nepalese students

RJ Fleming and Ang Kami with seven of the children they support through EON.

Back in 2001, AAC member Dr. RJ Fleming saw a need in Nepal. Running a guide service out of Europe and Asia, RJ and his business partner, Ang Kami, saw many guiding companies addressing the environmental issues in Nepal, but did not know of any addressing the needs of the more than 980,000 orphans. The two partners knew they couldn’t continue to do business there without addressing this situation, even in a small way.

Enter Education for Orphans of Nepal, a charity registered in Nepal. Fleming and Kami, running MatterhornNepal-GuideSource Treks and Expeditions, committed to using their own personal funds and profits from their company to support as many orphans as they could, sending them to boarding schools in Kathmandu and covering all bills until the students graduate around age 16. Currently, they support 11 students’ living and educational expenses (about 750 Euro per year), and take the students into their own homes during holidays and breaks. Upon graduation, the student has an accredited education and the opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Fleming and Kami on Summit

RJ Fleming and Ang Kami on one of their expeditions to raise awareness for EON.

This spring, Fleming and Kami summited Ice Land Peak (6,189m) and attempted Ama Dablam (6,859m) in the Solu Khumbu region of the Himalayan range to raise awareness for the situation of orphans in Nepal, and hopefully gather more climbers on board to help care for these children (until now, they have been providing support all on their own). The photo at right shows the two on one of these expeditions, while the photo above is of them with seven of they children they support.

For more info, read RJ’s letter about their mission after the jump. To find out how you can help or donate, contact Dr. RJ Fleming directly at [email protected] or send an email to the EON email address at [email protected].

Another cool write up about what they are doing is here.

My business partner and I started the EON charity in 2001, because we were acutely aware of how many orphans there are in Nepal. We run our business in both Europe and Asia (Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India), and while other guiding services have been becoming more responsible about environmental issues and improving schools in these regions, we were not aware of any guide service really concentrating upon the children with the least hope for improving their situation. For various reasons Nepal has more than 980’000 orphans presently, and we could not continue to do business there without addressing this situation in our own small way.

My partner, Ang Kami, is a Sherpa from the Solu Khumbu area, and he enlightened me after we became partners as to the profound problems facing so many children in the countryside. Nearly 85% of the accredited schools in Nepal are located in cities, so children born in the country have little access to a quality education unless they move into a larger city, which orphans cannot do. We decided that part of our business plan and mission would be to support as many children as we could afford from our pockets and the profits of our business, MatterhornNepal-GuideSource Treks & Expeditions Ltd. This gets expensive for us since we must pay for not only their education, but their living expenses as well. Our answer was to bring each orphan to Kathmandu, put them in a good boarding school and then pay all the bills until they graduate at about age 16 with a credible and certificated educational degree. If we find a child at age 6, then that means 10 years of support. Presently, we fully support 11 children. Seven are in the Prithwi School in Kathmandu and the other four are in two other schools there (our goal is to get them all into Pithwi). When there are school holidays we take the children into our staff members’ homes with our families.

Ang Kami (who was one of the climbing Sherpas to take the first blind man to the top of Everest in 2001) and I decided this year to climb some peaks simply to raise awareness of this issue in Nepal, hopefully so other guiding services, tourist agencies and individuals might hear about this situation and want to help support these children (the cost is killing us! but there is no issue as to whether or not we will continue). These children are everything to us. While it does not seem like much to many Westerners, it costs about 750€ per year to feed, clothe, house, and educate each of our children since they must be in a boarding school and have no one else to support them.

Nepalese orphans can use any help that AAC members can offer. Thank you for anything you can do to raise awareness of this situation. Countless people visit Nepal every year as tourists, climbers, etc., and walk past such children daily on their basecamp and touring treks, never realizing that some of the cute little kids watching them go by will probably be standing there 40 years from now because they have no chance to learn to read or write – they will spend their whole lives just trying to eat and stay housed. We love these children dearly, and anyone who has ever known a Nepalese / Sherpa child cannot forget the brilliant smile and open hearts of these people. I attach a photo taken a few weeks ago with 7 of our children, and another taken during our expedition to raise awareness of EON.

Kind regards,
RJ Fleming, MD