One of Grand Circle Foundation’s strongest and most enduring partnerships is with the Himalayan Trust Foundation. The partnership began in 1993, with a focus on improving education, and our donations total $793,499 to date.

The next project we are supporting will provide $40,988 in funding for the Shree Juving Secondary School in the Mapya Dudhkoshi Rural Municipality, Solukhumbu, Nepal, to build separate toilet facilities for students and teachers; repair and upgrade existing toilets; and provide a 528-gallon (2,000-liter) water tank and filters with four taps. The community will contribute $6,492 toward the project.

Please help us bring clean water and toilets to this school of 190 students in the remote Mount Everest region—the same area where it all began for Sir Edmund Hillary, whose proudest achievement was not scaling Everest, but rather giving back to the Sherpa people. In his words, “I believe that, of all the things I have done, exciting though many of them have been, there’s no doubt in my mind that the most worthwhile has been the establishing of schools.”

The Himalayan Trust Foundation (HTF) was founded by legendary mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary to provide support for the Sherpa living in remote areas near Mount Everest. After he and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, became the first to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain and come back down safely, Hillary returned to the area on expeditions to study the effect of altitude on the body and to search for the yeti, a creature popularized in the West as the abominable snowman.

On one of these return visits, Sir Edmund asked a Sherpa, “If there was anything I could do for the Sherpa people, what do you think that would be?” The Sherpa replied, “Our children have eyes, but they are blind and cannot see. We would like you to open their eyes by building a school in our village.”

This touched his heart, and he immediately set about building the first school in Khumjung. He went on to build schools, hospitals, and health clinics across the Solukhumbu region in the foothills of Everest.

Sir Edmund was also a founding Board Member for Grand Circle Foundation (GCF), which has been proud to support his vision over the years. The initial project GCF supported was to provide teacher training for primary school teachers. In his first report of the project, Sir Edmund wrote: “We had originally planned on dealing with 30-40 Primary Teachers, but in the end more than 160 Primary Teachers turned up. I believe this is one of the most successful programs that the Trust has undertaken.”

Our partnership with HTF became more urgent in 2015, after the devastating 7.8 earthquake in Nepal. HTF already had people and resources on the ground, and knew how to navigate the government and political systems. And because of our long-standing partnership, we were eager to support them in any way possible.

Generous donors helped us raise $100,000 to build three earthquake-proof classroom blocks, with three classrooms in each block, as well as a complete water and sanitation system. This project aligned with our WASH Initiative (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) to bring clean water and access to toilets to schools and villages around the world. The Trust expanded on that effort by rebuilding 70 classrooms in 15 schools in the two years following the earthquake. We look forward to many more years of partnership to help bring education and clean water to the people of Nepal.