A Scottish charity set up by a mountaineer from Fife is the only one providing aid to remote villages in Nepal that are still suffering from the effects of two devastating earthquakes – including building quake-resistent homes.
Many communities have received no official help and the survivors, among them families of 16 Sherpas who died, face the harsh Himalayan winter with no homes.
They would have no proper shelter were it not for the tents and sleeping bags provided by the Little Sherpa Foundation, a charity founded by former Fife teacher James Lamb with help from his friend Tashi Lama, a Nepalese monk.
They are now planning to rebuild many of the destroyed homes, designed to be earthquake-resistent by Glasgow architect Murray Kerr.
James was actually on Everest at the time of the earthquakes last April and was inspired to help the families of Sherpas who provide essential guiding for mountaineers.
He said: “I was literally above the village of Phortse looking down the day before the disaster.
“A total of 16 Sherpas were killed, leaving their wives and 54 children with no income and having to fend for themselves.”
James met with Tashi Lama and they decided to set up a charity to aid those left behind.
He said: “If it weren’t for the Sherpas then mountaineers like us would not be able to go up the mountains.
“We needed to get vital resources out to them as the temperature at winter can reach -25C.”
A team, led by the retired Fife teacher travelled through the region to the village in the Everest National Park.
The village is home to many Everest veteran Sherpas including Ang Tshering who summited the world’s highest mountain three times.
His house was destroyed in the earthquake and, without the charity’s help, would be spending life in the bitterly cold winter homeless.
He and many of these villagers would struggle to survive without the assistance of the Little Sherpa Foundation.
Battling the inevitable bureaucracy, James has brought tents, sleeping bags, clothing and financial help to the village.
They are now helping rebuild homes and a school.
He said: “Murray Kerr, who won Grand Designs’ Architect of the Year, has offered to come on board and design eco-friendly, earthquake-resistent homes.
“These will be the first of their kind in Nepal and we are really excited about the project. We are trying to get the Scottish Government to assist, but are delighted Murray has agreed to help, all for nothing.”
James added: “I feel it is up to mountaineers like me to give something back to the families of these Sherpas.
“I feel really glad about what we are achieving, and the village now call me ‘the father of Phortse’. But there is so much more to be done.”
It’s a remarkable story of an extraordinary effort to ensure these people are not forgotten - and this is despite no previous experience of charitable work.
Newtonmore based film-maker Richard Else followed James’ efforts and the results will be screened at the weekend on BBC Scotland’s Adventure Show.
The film crew travelledg through the Everest region to the village of Phortse and many others in the area that had not received any official aid.
What’s more, the plight of the local people had gone largely unreported.
The investigation can be seen as part of this month’s Adventure Show on BBC2 Scotland on Sunday at 8pm.