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2011 end of year words from Bridges Between Founder, Brooke Paparo

Thank you to Karma Sherpa, (Sherpa Mountain Travel), and your family in Nepal for guiding me with attentive skill and excellence.

My trip was highlighted by poignant interactions with the Sherpa people. I met separately with 2 Sherpa women and asked them to tell me their “stories”. They were shy and did not know how to begin their sharing. So, I told them my story of life in the USA, embellished with stories of my daughters and friends. I explained that there were people in the USA that believed their Sherpa “stories” were important and interesting, and that there were people outside of Nepal who wanted to help and communicate. Both of these Sherpa women are named Yandi. They are working hard to become literate; they have never left their villages.

I met with engineers in Kathmandu and on site in rural villages to discuss the plan, cost, and process of building Internet towers that will tie into a “line of sight” system already in place. The goal is to send a reliable internet signal to our existing school in Cchulemu, as well as to future Bridges Between schools. Our signal will be available to government schools, tea houses and health posts if they choose to participate, and will also offer a tele- medicine connection to the hospitals in Kathmandu.

The estimated cost so far for the Internet towers is approximately $50,000. Rick Bernheim living in Boulder, Colorado leads the Bridges Between USA engineering team. His focus is efficiency, sustainability and economy of our Internet project. The engineering team in Nepal is led by Mahabir Pun who is Nepalese, educated in the Unites States. Mr. Pun and his engineers from the Nepal Wireless Network are in contact with us regularly. In addition to health care, education, and the creation of jobs, the new Bridges Between Internet towers may be used to improve the safety of Domestic air travel in Nepal’s Everest region

In Cchulemu I met Nima, the new Cchulemu Bridges Between teacher. We discussed the year’s curriculum: Reading Grade one level books, Writing in Nepalese and English, and practicing Computer Basics. Nima is well educated and bilingual; his annual salary is $2400 for a 9 month term. Nima is anxious for an Internet signal which he believes will enhance learning and communication. Our goal is for the Bridges Between School to set up a blog!! (Thank you to Lee Nadler in NYC, Sherpa Marketing, Inc.) The Cchulemu School is well attended by men as well as women from 6-9pm, five days a week. Pictures in our photo gallery show the progress of our students, in just one year we see the beautiful beginnings of literacy.

The village of Ringmo sent a messenger with a written request for a Bridges Between school on formal notarized village stationary, and the village of Hawa sent 2 women to meet with me and ask if they too could also be considered for a school. The cost to sustain each school is $5000 for a 9 month term and Bridges Between will move forward with these schools as soon as funding is available.

I trekked to Beni @ approx. 15,000 feet and met a Sherpa woman living in a small stone structure with a roof made from a blue tarp. This Sherpa woman lives peacefully, primitively, and completely sustainably, caring for her grazing yaks. My Sherpa guide was trekking with his laptop and I was witness to this woman’s joyful response as she looked at photos on his computer of Sherpa family weddings in faraway places.

While in the Khumbu I met several French travelers, also working in the Solu Khumbu. An organization called Cap –Cchulemu is sponsoring 14 young Sherpa children!! Bridges Between will forge relationships with like- minded organizations and build a shared collaborative network to better meet individual and collective goals.

The monks at the Taksindu Monastery live and study in a beautifully surreal “Ivy League” setting and were oh so grateful for their brand new computer lab!! I was welcomed with a formal Buddhist ceremony, a thank-you for the computer equipment donated by Bridges Between. The resident nuns live in a more humble setting; on behalf of Bridges Between, I made a financial donation to the nuns to assist their daily living and opportunity for education.

Bridges Between accomplished a great deal in 2011. There is still much work to be done!!

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