It turns out that my guide Tashi is only a guide part-time. His day job is as a technician, one of four people who run the small hydroelectric power station that provides lighting for the whole town of about 500 souls.
For four years, the town has been working on a plan to expand the capacity of the power from 15kwH per day to 100kwH. To put this into context, the average house in the USA uses more than 30 kwH per day!
This expansion will be sufficient to ensure that cooking can be done without using wood, dung, gas or kerosene but with renewable electricity from the year-round runoff from nearby Himalayan giant Ama Dablam. It will also allow heating in the lodges and homes to be electrified - a huge improvement to the lives and economic prospects of this lovely town.
Now here’s the kicker - this whole major improvement can be completed for just over US$17,000!
When I heard this I decided that I should try to help, using my contacts from work and knowledge of Internet services that help raise funds for worthy causes. We’re starting out, Tashi and myself, by creating a video, using my GoPro camera with some additional footage shot by his manager Dorje Sherpa as some of the people we need are in Kathmandu now. We start with a video of the Llama of Pangboche - tomorrow! Then we will collaborate when I get home as the website gets designed, with the objective of launching the appeal in January after the final technical and financial review meeting is complete.
I have to say I cannot remember the last time that a project really ‘got’ me like this one has. While I believe there is a real and positive value on balance in what I do for a living, it is rarely possible to see the impact of the work on real people’s lives. This project is the opposite - it isn’t designed to change the world, just the lives of the people living in one small corner of it. If you are a friend of mine be warned, in January I’ll come asking for a donation!
My husband Enrique and my mum and I are coming to Nepal in 2014. With any luck, when we come through Pangboche work will already be underway on the improvements!