Service Trek Nov 2004

Service Trek Nov 2004

Service Trek
November 2004

 Dr. Levin, Ms. Elselien, and Ms. Kandu, standing next to a Mani Wall, and the 7000 meter peaks of Numbur and Kwangde in the background. The picture was taken this beautiful sunny morning on the trail above Bitay Kharkha. We still haven't seen any other tourists yet, but saw some scary Soldiers and police last night. We are waiting for our first interaction with the Maoists and will send a fuller dispatch this evening. Thanks again for all of your fantastic help and kindness in helping these very poor people of Nepal. Yours Sincerely, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at



Hello, and thanks for providing this opportunity to tell about some of the poor and environmentally threatened regions on the wrong side of Mount Everest. A group of us are just leaving Kathmandu today, heading for a remote sherpa village, in the far highlands of Nepal. It is in the foothills of the Himalaya, near to Mount Everest, and known as the Solu Khumbu. Because it is not on any popular tourist route, the area has never developed, and is basically the same as it was 100 years ago. During other visits here, we have never seen any other tourists in this region and the local people live very simple lives, with little chance to go to school, and no health care. There are no roads, and the environment there is incredibly beautiful, however, very fragile. We are about to embark on a service trek to this region, and we are under the auspices of the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nepal and Tibet. Two years ago, a man and woman were chosen from this region and trained to become health care workers. Two months ago, they carried backpacks filled with medicine to a tiny village known as Patale, where 4000 people live with no access to medical care or any health clinic. It is a three day walk from the nearest road. Now, our task is to trek out to Patale to find out how the health care workers are faring and how we can help. We are also carrying medicines to resupply the workers. We are headed into a Maoist-controlled region where there are no tourists and there is no government, so things might get interesting. During our trek, we hope to inventory the needs of the local families, in terms of health care, education, and also asses the environmental conditions in regards to clean water, sanitation, and the overall condition of the environment, which includes many forests, jungles, grasslands, and river habitats.



The members include:


Dr. Lee Levin

Dr. Daniel Mazur

Mr. Niranjan Rai

Mr. Raj Kumar Rai

Mr. Gyaluk Sherpa

Mr. Gyelzen Sherpa

Mr. Jangbu Sherpa

Ms. Kandu Sherpa

Mr. Lakpa Kongle Sherpa

Mr. Mingma Sherpa

Ms. Puty Sherpa

Mr. Sapte Sherpa

Mr. Shera Sherpa

Mr. Sonam Sherpa

Ms. Elselien te Hennepe

Dr. John Vavruska



Please follow our trek as we spend next 14 days trekking and exploring this very remote and poor region near to Mount Everest. Thank you very much, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at




Photo taken a few minutes ago of Jangbu and Kandi Sherpa's house, a tiny cabin on the edge of Patale Village. The picture shows Tenzing Sherpa taking down camp, because we are going to his house for lunch, and then across the valley where we will meet the health care workers for the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nepal and Tibet.



Hello, Greetings from the hinterlands of northern Okhaldhunga district. I'm John Vavruska, the guy who instigated this trek along with Dan Mazur's encouragement. I had built a gravity flow water system for a village called Nirmalidanda in Khotang District 5 days walk east of here in 1983-1984. This is my first time back to the hills of Nepal and, as Yogi Berra would say, it's deja vu all over again but with some important differences. We'll be sending out dispatches over the next two weeks as we work our way eastward to Nirmalidanda. I look forward to giving my impressions of life in the hills of Nepal now compared to twenty years ago.



As I sit in this tent in the remote Sherpa village called Patale far from any trek routes, I've just had my third cup of Chang, the Sherpa's barley beer. Refusing chang is unacceptable; the best you can do is get away with only two fill-ups. But it is refreshing and a good source of carbohydrate.



We've encountered more than a hundred Nepali army soldiers, bored to death with being in remote high outposts (they'd rather be back home) and no far. I'll end with saying it's really good to be back here and I am very pleased that my Nepali is coming back - it is really satisfying to communicate with people in their native language and people respond so much more to westerners who can speak it.


Namaskaar, John Vavruska




Patale health post: We took these pictures last night. They are of the two Sherpa health care workers who have been practicing medicine in Patale for the last couple of weeks. The young woman's name is Pasi.



Jamyang Sherpa, the 19 year old Sherpa health care worker examining a young boy in Patale, a remote village in northern Okhaldhunga district of Nepal on November 5, 2004.



Hello, wish you were here we have been visiting the homes of various Sherpas eating and drinking. I have reached the state of vreethaak which is Dutch for needing too loosen ones belt. This is lee levin continuing with my loosened belt .It is truly a privilege to go on this this trek and see many things few if any westerners have seen. The little clinic has been opened for about two weeks with two local health care workers age 19 and 20 the each studied for two years in Katmandu and now are seeing patients with various conditions including worms shin infections burns bronchitis and some other conditions the clinic so far seems successful and the two workers seem very enthusiastic.



John: A terrific day in the remote hills of Nepal, quiet, beautiful, pastoral hills with extraordinarily friendly people. We have been welcomed into too many homes to count and in each visit we are served many many cups of sweet tea (dudh chyaa), Sherpa tea (yak butter, salt and tea), chang (barley beer), and rakshi (distilled chang). We've probably eaten 10,000 calories apiece today. We visited a small monastery at 8,000 feet high above the Malung (Sp?)Khola (river) that Janbu Sherpa says no westerner has

ever seen before - what a privilege!





Dr. Lee Levin reviewing a list of medications needed to supply the health post in Patale.



This is Elselien writing. I'm one of the service trekkers and am wondering whether you could put a little Dutch dispatch on the site. Last February Daniel came over to Rotterdam and did a slide show to collect money for the Everest Foundation. I think a lot of Dutch people would like to read about our current trek and the health care workers we have been meeting. Thanks a lot in advance!



Hallo Allemaal,



Vanuit Patale in het verlaten Okhaldhunga district is dit Elselien.

Samen met Daniel Mazur en twee Amerikanen doe ik een service trek om twee 'health care workers' te ontmoeten die opgeleid zijn door de Mount Everest Foundation en nu een paar weken aan het werk zijn in Patale. Het ziet er goed uit. De 'workers ' komen uit dit gebied en lijken gemotiveerd om hun eigen dorp en de omliggende gehuchten te voorzien van hele basale gezondheidszorg, dat ze tot voorkort hier helemaal niet kenden. Het is geweldig om te zien dat een organisatie als deze, op zo'n praktische en eigenlijk ongelooflijk simpele wijze bij kan dragen aan de manier waarop deze mensen hun eigen situatie proberen te verbeteren. Hopelijk kan ik later nog wat schrijven, voor nu allemaal erg bedankt voor jullie interesse en voor de Nederlanders bij Daniels lezing, bedankt voor jullie bijdrage. Ik heb met eigen og en kunnen zien wat een verschil 1000 Euro kan maken! Elselien te Hennepe.




picture of the ceremony of the opening of the Patale Health Post. We are loaded down with over 40 katas (silk scarves)each and surrounded by villagers. The celebration included words of appreciation by Jangbu and singing and dancing until 12 midnite.



Future site of the Health Post in Patale. The site will be enlarged to provide space for at least one building.

Hello, Here is another installment on our story about our service trek through Nepal. Thanks for letting us tell our story about our trek through this untouristed part of Nepal.



Lee says:

I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic celebration the village of Patale gave us in honor of their new health clinic. They had some traditional dancers doing some sherpa dances. This was followed by a large number of locals joining in the dancing. This was a great honor bestowed upon us. The Sherpa people constitute only a small percentage of Nepal's peoples. Some of the other peoples we will visit include the Rai. These are Tibetan people as are the Sherpas that migrated to Nepal several centuries ago. The Rai are Hindus, while the Sherpas are Buddhists. We went through several Mugar villages. Magars are another group. These villages are all several days walk from the nearest roads, have no electricity and are largely intact due to their remoteness. This is becoming a rarity in the present era. -Lee Levin




Dan says:

Our visit to the new Patale village health post on behalf of the Mount Everest Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet lasted 2.5 days and we kept busy throughout the visit. The health clinic is currently located in a spare room of Mingma Sherpa's family home. The two health workers, Mr. Jamyang and Ms. Puty Sherpa are originally from the village. They took two years of courses in Kathmandu and did a month of practical work in another rural village, before walking back out to Patale with two backpacks filled with medicines, to take up their residency and start the Patale Health Post, which did not exist before this. The room is about 4x4 meters. -Daniel Mazur




John says:

We've had a great trek so far. I'm sitting here in Rumjatar, a Gurung village that I had visited 20 years ago. This morning Jangbu, Shera, and I visited Lamichane Gurung who used to work at the UNICEF Field Office in Lamidanda. When I walked up to his house, he was leaning over a rock wall. We shook hands and he said "John Vavruska". What a good memory. We sat on his porch for 1 1/2 hours and chatted about old times. His wife served us tea and chang. I gave him a photo I had made of him 20 years ago and then took a picture of him now. I told him I won't wait another 20 years to return. He said he might not be around if I waited that long. What a rich experience to bond with someone half way around the world and be able to talk about shared memories. We talked about all the gravity flow water systems that have been built since those days in both Okhaldhunga and Khotang districts, over 30 of them. --John Vavruska



Rumjatar is at 4,300 feet elevation so all the tropical fruits grow here - bananas, tangerines, papayas, lemons, grapefruit, etc. In addition, rice and millet are grown here. The fields and surrounding high hills are just as beautiful as before.




Elselien Te Hennepe says:


Beste mensen, Vandaag is het 8 november en op dit moment zit ik in een voormalig Gurkha hotel in Rumjatar een email te typen! De afgelopen dagen hebben we veel gezien en meegemaakt. In Nepal heb je soms weinig controle over wat er gaat gebeuren en wanneer. We zijn door de Sherpa's in en rondom Patale van het ene naar het andere huis geloodst en werden keer op keer volgestopt met Dhal Bhat en Chang. Erg gastvrij en vriendelijk allemaal. 's Avonds terug in Patale waren er maar liefst meer dan honderd mensen naar onze verblijfplaats gekomen om ons te bedanken voor de Health Clinic. Ik had zoiets nog nooit meegemaakt, het was ongelooflijk. Allemaal hadden ze Katta's (sjaaltjes voor goed geluk)of bloemenkransen meegenomen en die kregen we een voor een uitgerijkt. Erg indrukwekkend! Nu zijn we onderweg naar Nimalidanda, waar John 20 jaar geleden een waterinstallatie heeft gebouwd. We zijn in erg afgelegen gebied en duidelijk de enige blanke, want we worden nagestaard alsof we aliens zijn. Vandaag heeft John zijn eerste kennis van 20 jaar geleden ontmoet en was daar erg enthousiast over. Ik ben benieuwd hoe het in Nirmalidanda zelf zal

zijn. Tot de volgende dispatch!




photo showing John Vavruska holding a photo taken 20 years ago of the grand opening ceremony of the first public water well, known as a "tap-stand" that he built in the village where he lived for two years as a water-worker. Now, we are on our way to visit the village, after a 20 year hiatus, to see what is left of the system he worked so hard to design and implement.



Hello, Hope all is well. Thanks again for letting us tell this story about the very poor people who live in the tiny villages near to Mount Everest, for the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet. Here is the latest news from our service trek:





We pulled into Lamidanda this afternoon after a long, hot 3,000 foot climb from Rabuwa (at 1,400 ft) on the Dudh Kosi, the great river that drains the entire Khumbu (Everest area). We spent last night in a Rai farmer's khet (terrace) in a tiny place called Mosepu high above the Khotane Khola, the river that drains east from Okhaldhunga and Rumjatar. Lamidanda is where I spent many days and nights 20 years ago as a Peace Corps Volunteer working out the UNICEF Field Office here. It's as beautiful as ever, an idyllic hamlet perched above the Dudh Kosi with beautiful fields of kodo superb views to the north of the Himals (Numbur, Karyolung, Gyachung Kang, Everest, Kusum Kanguru, Mera, etc. But things have also changed.



Lamidanda was an airstrip with regular service to Kathmandu when I was here before. Now, the airstrip is deserted and apparently planes fly in only once in a while. Our group of 12 walked ten minutes eastward to the vicinity of the old UNICEF Field Office to check into a "hotel" along the trail. The office is now closed and the house of the Field Officer at the time - Thomas Ebersoll that I spent many a night in is long gone, not even any rubble to show for it! It all seems a bit weird. This afternoon after washing at a dharaa (water tapstand) nearby, I pulled out a handful of photos that I had made of people in Lamidanda 20 years ago. The Sherpas went off with the photos on a mission to find out about these people now.


Some have moved away, others they couldn't identify. But one older guy - Rudra (nicknamed Kaaji) showed up and he remembered me. We chatted for a while about the whereabouts of the people who worked in and around the Field Office at these days.




Hello, this is Elselien writing. Hope you are ok and have a chance to put this next Dutch dispatch on the web. Thanx a lot.



Vanuit het enige Bazaar dorp Diktel schrijf ik dit. De afgelopen dagen zijn avontuurlijk verlopen. Na Rumjatar, waar een van onze Sherpa's eerder geweest was, wist niemand meer precies waar we heen gingen, hoe het pad zou zijn of hoe lang we er over zouden gaan doen. Een halve ontdekkingsreis dus. De eerste dag werd dat meteen al duidelijk toen we onze bestemming Rubawa een half uur voor donker nog niet eens konden zien liggen! Op zoek naar een plek voor de nacht kwamen we uit bij een eenvoudig huisje midden inde rijstvelden met een vlakke plek voor onze tenten. Aldaar hebben we dus gekampeerd en een zeer eenvoudige Dhal Bhat als diner gegeten. De thee leek wel slootwater met zout en peper! Mensen leven hier zo basic, het is soms onvoorstelbaar, maar altijd gastvrij en bereid om mee te helpen!



De volgende ochtend zijn we op een lege maag naar Rubawa (2 uur) gelopen en na een Noodle soup verder naar Lamidanda. Daar ontmoette John een aantal bekenden en had ik in de heerlijke middagzon eindelijk eens tijd om mezelf en wat kleding te wassen. Vandaag zijn we verder naar Diktel gelopen en kwamen we de eerste tekenen van Maoistische activiteit tegen. Ze vallen ons (nog?) niet lastig voor geld ofzo, maar zijn duidelijk herkenbaar aan hun achterdochtige gedrag. Ze komen schromeloos erbij zitten en staren ons onvriendelijk lang aan. Waarschijnlijk zijn er te veel legersoldaten in de buurt, want vandaag kwamen we door een grote basis en moesten langs een checkpost waar de Sherpa's hun rugzak mosten openen.



Hopelijk blijft het hier bij, want morgen willen we verder naar Nirmalidanda, waar John 20 jaar geleden 2 jaar gewoond heeft, en daarna verder naar Bojpur voor de terugvlucht naar Kathmandu. Het zou jammer zijn als John niet naar 'zijn' dorp kan gaan. Hij heeft veel foto's van destijds bij zich en ik ben benieuwd wie daar nog van over zijn... Hopelijk daarover meer in mn volgend verslag. Elselien te Hennepe.




Daniel Mazur says:

I just wanted to review a bit about the kind of patients we saw coming into the health post. There were a few men complaining of headaches, but mostly it was mothers and their children. This is an especially unique need, because the mothers, who have little or no schooling in this village which does not really have a functioning school (yet) generally speak very little Nepalese and definitely no English, they only speak Sherpa language. Thus it is so lucky that the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet and those people who have kindly donated have been able to provide a local man and woman, both whom are from the village and speak perfect Sherpa. We saw one horribly shocking case while we were in the clinic, a woman brought in an 8 month baby who had rolled into a fire (their fires are really holes in the floor in the middle of their houses, which by the way have no chimneys). This baby was seriously bloody and burned to the third degree on the back of his head, his back and buttocks. He was crying and mother was trying to calm him by nursing. We were very fortunate that Dr. Lee Levin was with us and had brought a large supply of Cephalexin antibiotic, as this is a good infection preventative for open wounds. We hope the baby will live, and will check back frequently to find out what happened.


Thanks for listening and for your support, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at




 thanks for letting us tell the story of our service trek through Nepal on behalf of the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet. Here is a photo showing Nirinjan Rai, Elselien Te Hennepe, and John Vavruska looking at a photo of a Lami Danda village family John took 20 years before. Niranjan spent the morning hours trying to locate this family. However, it seems they had all left, seeking better opportunities elsewhere. In fact, John said the village was much quieter with far fewer people than when he lived in the area 20 years ago. Even though it seems like a very green and agriculturally productive area where a hard-working family can grow to crops a year, plenty to sustain itself. Why is that? Hmmmm.



Here is a photo showing a health post sign board in a village four days walk below Patale. Its a simple cartoon-like information board, encouraging people to take care of their sick children and if their kids don't get better quickly, to consult a health clinic. We hope that we will be able to post such informational sign boards around Patale village health clinic in the near future.



Here is a photo showing the mighty Dudh Khosi River. The same river flows past Mount Everest. Here we are seeing the river from the foothills below Patale, and at this low altitude (about 350 meters above sea level) the river is enormous, about 200 meters wide. "Dudh" means milk, and "Khosi" means river. The "milk river" gets its name from the glacial silt which fills the river up in its higher reaches, while down here, the river is a beautiful aquamrine blue, surrounded by tiny villages, rice paddy terraces, banana, pipal, banyan and pine trees.


Thanks for listening and for your support, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at




The other picture is of our Sherpani Kandu getting het Tikka in the morning of the 14th before we left Nirmalidanda. The people we camped at gave us a really nice goodbye meal, a Tikka (which is a multicolored mark on the forehead) and a Garland made of


This is John talking:

I'm typing this in a tent in the village of Nirmalidanda. A lot has happened since we last sent a dispatch. After climbing the huge 2-hour hill from Lamidanda on the trail to Diktel we reached Nuntalaa high on a ridge overlooking the Rawa Khola 5,000 feet below. It seems as though every valley in Nepal is at least the equivalent of the Grand Canyon in terms of elevation differential. Nuntaalaa is mostly a Thamang town. We sat around for quite a while and had daalbhaat cooked by the Sherpas. We've been using various tea shop kitchens to cook our own meals which is working out well since we have more control over sanitation.


After lunch, two more hours of walking mostly on the level on a partially constructed road with no motor traffic, followed by a 1,000 foot gradual descent, brought us to the large ridge top town of Diktel Bazar. I couldn't recognize things as we descended into town since there's been so much construction including a prison (presumably for Maoists). We had to pass through a military checkpost; only some of the Sherpa's packs were searched and only superficially. The westerners were waived on through. As we walked through the single street town, I asked someone if the Layalu Hotel is still here. They indicated that it did so we marched on down to the Layalu. I stayed in the Layalu many a night on walks back and forth from Lamidanda to Nirmalidanda when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. The Layalus are a Newar family and both the mother and father were still there. I gave them a photo I had made 20 years ago of their daughter Lamas who is now a teacher in Kathmandu. Diktel has a curfew from 7pm to 4am so we had to finish up daalbhaat and get back across the street to our rooms. Diktel still has all the morning sounds I remember - dogs barking, roosters crowing, and people clearing their throats. Shortly before we left town, a Khotang journalist found me. He asked if he could interview me for local Khotang television, so I agreed. The jist of the interview was "Khotang then and now". It must sound and look pretty funky since all the questions were in Nepali and my answers were all in my limited Nepali. It would be a hoot to see it aired but it will be after Tihar celebration which is after I go home. This poor journalist never leaves Diktel where he feels safe; he says the Maoists don't like him. One of the questions he asked was if I detected the tension in the hills these days due to the Maoists. I sort of dodged the question by saying things still seem quite nice for a tourist.




In the morning (Nov. 11), we began walking to Nirmalidanda at 11:30am, descending steeply down 2,000 feet to the Miya Khola on a familiar trail where we crossed a good suspension bridge. Then we had to ascend for a long time up through rice terraces in the hot sun, sweating profusely. Two or three more hours of walking brought us finally to Nirmalidanda along a trail I had walked many times. As we rounded a corner, we encountered a group of men who stopped us and asked a few questions. Given the Nepali grapevine, I'm sure they knew we were coming. I told them that I had helped build a water system in Nirmalidanda 20 years ago and we had come to visit and look things over. They seemed alright with this and suggested we go on to the next house along the trail to stay there tonight. I immediately recognized the old Rai man living there along with his extended family. His son - Jit Man Rai - is now the water committee chairman for the village of Nirmalidanda. So we set up all the tents in their front yard and we had a great meal of tarkaari bhaat (vegetables and rice) along with chicken - yes they killed a couple of roosters for us. We had sort of restless night because their young dog would howl a very loud high pitched howl like a coyote every few hours. Then the roosters and hens set in toward morning.



I pulled out my people photos from 20 years ago, and wow how happy it made them. I would ask if so and so was still alive, etc. and with the exception of only 2 or 3 people, everyone in the photos is still alive. This morning, we moved our camp up to the center of the village about 1000 feet above Jit Man Rai's pitched tents in dry rice terrace below a Chetri's house. More people came around who remembered me and I remembered many faces. They looked at the photos and I've now given away over half of the more than 200 I had brought. They seem very happy that we came. This afternoon, we walked along rice terraces up to the spring source for the water system, another 1000 feet above our current camp - vertical country, Nepal! Jit Man Rai, the water chairman is going to make a list of parts and supplies (pipe, fittings, cement, etc.) needed to maintain the water system since UNICEF pulled out of this work several years ago. Maybe we can find a source of funding so that the needed supplies can be purchased.




Dan says:

During our visit to Patale, the group of villages where the Mount Everest Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet has begun building a health clinic, we noticed a series of conditions: 1. There are two tiny schools which are extremely small and crude in comparison to schools in other villages. The desks and overall condition of the buildings are very poor, and with only a few tiny dank classroom, it is obvious that not much an education could be received here. The health post itself is currently located in the family house of Mingma Sherpa, who has kindly donated a large extra room in the middle floor. Also, they built a small separate kitchen here. The health care workers live and work in this room and kitchen, and there are serious disadvantages to locating the clinic here. The main disadvantage is that sick people are coming in and out of this family house, and illness could be spread to the host family members. Obviously the health clinic cannot survive in its present location. Another interesting thing we noticed is that the village has several old gompas (buddhist monasteries or shrines) which are free standing in separate buildings. These are largely intact but in an alarming state of disrepair, with lumber being stored inside, and prayer books strewn about, holes in roofs, etcetera. The locals, when questioned, stated that people stopped worshipping regularly in these gompas 15 years ago. Another factor of note is that forest use is being regulated by local consensus. Each family is only allowed to harvest 10 loads of firewood per year, and this is not allowed to be cut, but must only be taken from dead and down trees. If a larger tree is to be cut, for say, lumber, then a permit must be granted by unanimous approval of the forestry committee.






Hello. This is Elselien writing. Hope you are doing ok. Since John has written such a nice and complete dispatch, my Dutch one will be small this time. Could you please put that on the web for the Dutch readers? Thanx a lot!




Vanuit Nirmalidanda VDC schrijf ik deze dispatch. Nirmalidanda was het 2e doel van deze trek en het is geweldig om hier te zijn. We zijn dagen lopen verwijderd van elke connectie naar Kathmandu en voelen ons echt in 'the middle of nowhere'. Sinds de laatste dispatch zijn we een aantal afgelegen dorpen gepasseerd en hebben beetje bij beetje kunnen ervaren wat de Maoisten voor een effect hebben in deze regio. Persoonlijk merken we er niet veel van, maar de mensen in Lamidanda hebben geen elektriciteit door toedoen van de Maoisten, in Diktel (een redelijk groot Bazaar dorp) was een grote legerbasis, een gevangenis, een checkpost -waar alleen onze sherpa's hun rugzak hoefden openen- en een nachtklok om de situatie rustig te houden. Verder komen we zo nu en dan een 'Red Sock' (zoals wij ze noemen) tegen tijdens het trekken, maar die kijken ons alleen erg argwanend aan en reageren niet op ons (over)vriendelijk 'Namaskar'. En gisteren werden we net voor ons einddoel hier staande gehouden door een groep mannen. Kandu die iets door liep werd resoluut terug gefloten. Volgens hen konden we beter blijven waar we waren en overnachten bij een aangewezen familie en pas vanochtend verder trekken naar Nirmalidanda (nog maar 30 minuten). Ik vond het maar raar, maar als onbekende in dit gebied kun je maar beter luisteren en dus hebben we gekampeerd in de voortuin van wat later bleek een oude bekende van John te zijn. Uiteindelijk dus helemaal geen slechte uitkomst!



John ontmoet steeds meer mensen van 20 jaar geleden en heeft al de helf van zijn 200 foto's uit kunnen delen. Nu het woord zich verspreidt blijven mensen komen naar onze kampeerplek en zijn allemaal even nieuwschierig naar die buitenlanders met al hun spullen. Vanochtend werd ik wakker met vijf nieuwschierige kinderhoofdjes voor mn tent :-) !



Ik vind het heel speciaal om na de Himalaya, nu ook dit afgelegen gebied van Nepal te zien. Hopelijk tot de volgende dispatch, Elselien te Hennepe.



Thanks for listening and for your support, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at




Dan and Jangbu on the helicopter flight from Bhojpur to Kathmandu.



Since our last dispatch, we've had more rich experiences in Nirmalidanda:




Our reception by the villagers of Nirmalidanda has exceeded my best expectations. We moved our camp up to the center of the village on Nov. 12. The villagers whose faces I remember so well from twenty years ago have turned out by the dozens. Nirmalidanda is a scattering of a few hundred houses across a huge hillside that runs from about 4,000 feet on the Sapsup Khola (River) up to over 8,000 feet just below the jungle. The growing season varies tremendously in Nirmali - tropical fruits such as bananas, tangerines, papaya, quava, and lemons, grow at the bottom of the village along with rice. As you ascend up through the village, you see corn, millet, squash, pumpkins, beans, and a variety of vegetables. Finally at the top, it's mostly potatoes and barley.



The current Water Committee Chairman (Adaksya) Jit Man Rai took us on a tour of the water system that I helped build twenty years ago. All 20 tapstands are still there but not all are operating as originally installed. The original plastic pipe buried to a depth of 1 meter wherever possible, has been cut over the years in several places by villagers who wanted water delivered right to their houses. Jit showed us how he repairs these pipe cuts by splicing in a union fashioned from bamboo, honed to just the right diameter to shove into each end of the plastic pipe. We then walked up to the spring source at 7,000 feet and saw the original intake tank. A huge landslide had come very close to wiping it out a few years ago. The villagers had since built a rock wall to protect the intake tank from future erosion or landslides. I asked Jit to provide a list of needed repair parts and equipment for the water system along with a cost estimate. I told him that funds would certainly be available for such repairs from organizations like Waterlines back home in Santa Fe.


On Nov 13, Krishna Bahadur Rai, the former water committee chairman, invited us down to his house for khasiko maasu (goat meat) and rakshi (distilled millet whiskey). He moved me deeply when he said that he was so happy that I had not forgotten the people of Nirmalidanda. Then other villagers invited us further down the hill to their houses for snacks and discussions. People I had photographed long ago kept showing up and I rephotographed them holding their earlier pictures. Nirmali's eldest citizen was still alive; she seems to be doing quite well at 89. And of course several people asked if I had gotten married since they knew I was a bachelor when I lived in the village. I could proudly report that indeed I am now married and have one daughter (chori), a very small family by Nepali standards!



The Nepali festival of Tihar was in full swing while we were here. Typically each night and all night long during Tihar, villagers wander around in groups from one house to the next singing and dancing. We even did a little dancing at the Brahmin's house above the corn terrace where our tents were pitched. Our last morning in Nirmalidanda which happened to be the last day of Tihar called Bhai Tika (younger brother tika), our entire group of twelve - 3 foreigners and 9 Sherpa and Rai staff - were directed to sit down on straw mats (gundris). We were each given a Tika on the center of the forehead - vertical white stripe on which 3 dots each of red, blue, and yellow were added. Garlands (maalas) of marigolds were then placed around our necks. This was our formal farewell sendoff. I said a few words of appreciation in my fractured Nepali for the kind Nirmalidanda hospitality and our happiness with our visit. Then, off we marched down, down, down the hill to the bridge across the Sapsup Khola, to begin our first long ascent on the way to Bhojpur.




Nepal is such an amazing contrast. Where else can you watch roosters courting chickens in the morning and be eating Chocolate Mousse the same evening (in Kathmandu)?



Dutch dispatch




Zoals in John zijn dispatch te lezen is, hebben we sinds Diktel heel wat meer afgelegen Nepal beleefd.


John zijn terugkeer en onze komst naar Nirmalidanda was de 'happening' van het jaar en de mensen reageerden dan ook erg enthousiast. Vooral het feit dat John ze niet vergeten was, maakte grote indruk. Iedereen wilde iets doen of geven en de ene uitnodiging, maaltijd, of bloemenkrans volgde na de andere. En dat terwijl de bevolking in dit afgelegen gebied best arm is. Mensen leven van wat ze kunnen verbouwen op het stukje land rondom hun huis en dat is in de bergen soms erg klein. In deze oogsttijd is er gelukkig voldoende (zelfs voor 12 extra gasten), maar tegen het einde van de winter hebben de meeste dorpelingen geen korrel rijst meer over en eten ze noodgedwonden aardappels en mais. Wij zijn hier echter in de goede tijd van het jaar en eten twee maal dagelijks een 'heerlijke' Dhal Bhat :-)



De foto's die John mee heeft genomen zijn een schot in de roos en mensen blijven maar komen om te zien of er een van hen of van familie bij is. Meer dan verwacht nemen mensen foto's mee of gaan met hun eigen foto in de hand wederom op de foto! Erg leuk om van een afstand te kunnen observeren. In een afgelegen gebied als dit, is het kijken en bekeken worden. We zien er allemaal zo anders uit, dat zowel zij als ikzelf soms stil blijf staan om een passant of dorpeling even wat beter te bekijken. Het is een vreemde gewaarwording, maar gelukkig werkt een glimlach overal!



Het Tihar festival is gaande als wij in Nirmalidanda zijn en dat blijft niet onopgemerkt. Het is een dagenlang gebeuren dat vooral 's avonds gevierd wordt met luide Nepalese muziek en dans of met het uit volle borst zingen van volksliederen. We doen schuchter even mee, maar de betekenis echt begrijpen blijft lastig. Toch is het mooi om te zien hoe de Nepalezen zo gezamenlijk hun cultuur en religie beleven. Na een onrustige (Tihar) nacht ondergaan we de volgende ochtend een enorm uitgebreid en warm afscheidsritueel. We moeten plaatsnemen in een kring en krijgen eerst vers gemaakte Sel Roti (een soort gefrituurde donut van rijstebloem), dan volgens het Tihar ritueel een Tikka (een symbolisch teken op het voorhoofd) en als laatste een Maala (een bloemenkrans). Natuurlijk kunnen we niet weg voor alle aanwezigen uitgebreid te fotograveren. Het is dan geweldig om hun reacties te zien als ik ze digitaal hun foto op het lcd scherm laat zien!



Thanks for listening and for your support, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at




bombed out building and tower at Bhojpur airstrip


Here is our dispatch from the Nepal Service Trek with Maoist bombed out building photo attached. Thanks in advance for posting this!





We left Nirmalidanda loaded down with several garlands each around our necks, made of fresh marigolds, a heartening sendoff from the old village. Our attention was now directed at getting as far along the trail eastward to Bhojpur as possible since that would be the airstrip out of which we hoped to charter some kind of flight on the 16th of November. The slog up the trail in the humid heat after crossing the Sapsup Khola at 4,100 ft elevation seemed endless. After an hour and a half of switchbacking trail, we stopped at a teashop in a place called Bhaaje Chyandanda for lunch, a welcome break from the upward grind. We sat on a gundri (straw mat) in the sun and had our 28th daalbhaat meal (rice with lentils, but almost always vegetables substituted for lentils) in a row. Though it may come as a surprise, we all actually like daalbhaat - it's really a healthy meal. In my Peace Corps days, at least while out in the hills, I had learned to wean myself of the desire for pizzas, hamburgers, steaks, burritos, etc. and only looked forward to my next plate piled high with steaming rice, daal, vegetables (usually a mix of spinach and potatoes), and a khorsanni (tiny hot chile pepper) on the side.



After lunch and another hour and a half of uphill walking we topped out in a light fog at 7,600 feet on the ridge that separates Khotang and Bhojpur districts. There was some confusion about which trail would lead to the village of Annapurna and which would go to Chhinamakhu. But we knew that either would eventually get us to the town of Bhojpur tomorrow, our final destination. In an hour, we passed a small tea shop and the didi there confirmed that we were on the trail to Annapurna. As we descended into the ridge top town late in the afternoon, the first signs that things were amiss here were the burned down government buildings on the left side of the trail with Maoist slogans written in red all over the few remaining walls. Then up ahead, we saw a red Maoist flag, obviously not the Nepal flag, flying high over the high school. This was the same school that my friend Lawton had taught in as a Peace Corps Volunteer 20 years ago. As we reached the school, a group of a dozen men met us on the trail. For a half hour they tried very hard to persuade us to stay in the school yard for the night, all the while talking about the need for money (from us!) to repair the roof of the high school. This was our first direct interaction with Maoists so far on the entire service trek (day 13). Jangbu had an uneasy feeling about the place and we noticed that several of the men had been drinking. The stern expression on Jangu's face indicated that he did not like this place, so we went with his gut feelings. We quickly threw on our packs, gave our Namaste's to the Maoists (which they returned) and were off down the trail in the approaching darkness.



Just before dark and many hundred feet below Annapurna, we came upon a farmhouse on the trail. With quick approval from the farmer, all six tents were jammed into his yard and supper was cooking. What hospitality! Imagine with no forewarning, twelve strangers knocking on your door at dark, pitching their tents in your yard, using your kitchen, and eating your food. This is how it so often works in Nepal. Nepali people generally don't resent such impositions like westerners. During the night a group of villagers came with a tape player playing loud Nepali folk music right outside the tents. At daylight while breaking camp, we were again accosted by several other Maoists requesting money for the school. They had apparently come during the night but waited for us to get up. This time my excuse was that we were helping another village over in Khotang and couldn't also help out in Annapurna. Once again, we were quickly off down the hill giving our Namaste's to disappointed expressions.



We pulled into Bhojpur late afternoon on Nov. 15 after descending and climbing three separate ridges. After passing a military checkpoint, we walked on through town and found the only available hotel. This was our grimmest accommodation so far and fortunately, our last night out in the hills. On the morning of the 16th, we walked one hour down the hill out of town to the airstrip. The airport building and tower are now a ruin blown up by a pressure cooker bomb a couple of years ago. Quite a bleak place. Dan was able to call Murari in Kathmandu on the satellite phone to confirm that "something" would come get us sometime. We waited for several hours in front of the tea shop at the airstrip, watching roosters courting hens, reading paperbacks, and wandering around. Later we learned that the aircraft would be a 4-seat helicopter. Unfortunately, we had to say farewell to the Sherpas who would have to walk the day and a half to Hile east across the Arun River, then ride on a bus for 18 hours back to Kathmandu. Dan, Elselien, Jangbu and I climbed into the chopper along with all the gear for what proved to be the most exciting ride I've ever had. As we banked westward toward Kathmandu clearing the treetops on the high ridge crests by only a few meters, I told the pilot that it would be great if we could fly over Nirmalidanda. He said he'd not only take us over Nirmalidanda, he'd do a loop over the village. As we approached Nirmali, he dropped in elevation and circled low. We could see villagers running out of their houses, waving up at us. Somehow, I think they knew what this was all about.



Thanks for listening and for your support, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at





Dear everyone at for the special chance to tell our story of how people in poor villages of Nepal and Tibet are trying to help themselves. Yesterday I returned from Nepal after completing our November service trek for the Mount Everest Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet, following October's safe and succesful climb and trek to Ama Dablam, a 6800 meter peak near to Everest.


During this autumn season, there was a cease fire between the government and the Maoists. By the way, this conflict between the separatists and the government has not yet been directed against tourists or any foreigners, but has been strictly a Nepali vs. Nepali issue. The Khumbu valley, where Pumori, Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam are located, has remained free from any strife and was again calm and peaceful this Autumn.


Through the last two weeks, 4 foreigners and 10 Sherpas, assisting the Everest Foundation, made a service trek in rural Nepal, where during the first ten days of our trek we visited a remote health clinic in a poor village near to Mount Everest (four days walk from the nearest tourist trail) and, in another village, we evaluated the state of a 20 year old water system, escorted by John Vavruska, who originally designed it in 1983.


The local people in the two villages were very friendly and welcoming. In the last days of our trek, ten days from any tourists, we were surprised to learn that we were the first foreigners who had visited that area for several years and we did indeed meet a few Maoists, who requested us to make a "donation" to their cause, but were surprisingly nice to us when we apologized that we were not able to give them our money, as we were already helping people in other villages.


Days later, our trek ended in a remote hilltop village, where I made a brief satellite phone call to the Kathmandu offices of Parivar Trekking, and that afternoon, we climbed into a helicopter and in one short hour of exciting flying, we retraced our steps over big beautiful green hills we had just spent 15 days walking through. Now that all of us are home, it seems our service trek was exciting but rewarding, not only because we never met another foreigner the entire time, but as we plan to repair the water system and make many improvements to the health clinic (now in it's infancy) during the next months.


Here is a website where you could follow the progress of our service trek, through photos and emails sent to via satellite email connection:.


In case you are interested in meeting us this winter, we plan to present lectures about Himalayan mountain climbing and building hospitals, schools, water systems and environmental projects with me, Daniel Mazur (25 Himalayan expeditions in 6 nations since 1986 and seven 8000 meter peaks including Everest and K2) and friends (Pemba Dolma Sherpa, first Nepalese woman to climb Everest and survive, having climbed Everest twice, from Tibet and Nepal).


For the spring, in March through May we plan to climb and trek Mounts Pumori and Everest in Nepal and Tibet, followed in June by a service trek to poor rural villages near to Mount Everest in further efforts to help the local people help themselves and their environments. If you would like to speak further of these matters from a mountain climbing, trekking, or a service perspective, and perhaps host a lecture, please feel free to email. Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely Yours, Dan.



PS. I would like to thank those who were so supportive of our trek, our families and friends and especially Elselien te Hennepe and John Vavruska, who both have some amazing pictures to send you for posting on your excellent site: . I would also like to use this opportunity to voice my appreciation to everyone at for sponsoring a portion of our trek and providing such excellent staff, communications, and logistics.




Trekking down to bombed out airport


Dear, I hope you are well. Elselien has just returned to Rotterdam from our Service trek and has written this piece in Dutch, as her final email, I was wondering if you might be so kind as to publish it on the service trek site, as we have a lot of Dutch readers. Thanks very much and we are extremely grateful for your assistance:



Na de geweldige ervaring in Nirmalidanda en de hartverwarmende afscheidsceremonie, gingen we behangen met bloemenkransen op weg naar de laatste tussenstop voor ons vertrekpunt Bojpur. Lange tijd bleef onduidelijk naar welk dorp we het beste konden gaan en welk pad we dan moesten volgen. We hadden al 300m afgedaald, vervolgens 1200m geklommen, een Dhal Bhat voor lunch gehad en de zoveelste bergkam overgestoken, toen eindelijk duidelijk werd dat we op weg waren naar het dorpje Annapurna, vanwaar het nog vijf uur naar Bojpur zou zijn. Omstreeks 16uur zagen we vanaf ons hoger gelegen pad duidelijk de rode Maoistische vlag in Annapurna wapperen. Enkele minuten later passeerden we een vijftal opgeblazen en uitgebrande huizen, beklad met verse Maoistische leuzen, vele verlaten en dichtgetimmerde huizen en winkeltjes en werden we begroet door een net iets te 'aardige' groep jonge mannen in beschonken toestand. Ze probeerden ons over te halen die nacht in de (door het Tihar festival) lege school te verblijven en dan financieel bij te dragen aan een nieuw dak. De prijs die ze vroegen was on Nepalees hoog en de hele situatie kwan nogal drijgend op ons over, vooral de sirdar Jangbu was argwanend en besloot verder te lopen op zoek naar een betere overnachtingsplek. Zo'n 45 min.later en een paar honderd meter lager, konden we onze tenten opzetten bij een vriendelijk familie in de tuin. 's Avonds leek er niets aan de hand, maar toen we de volgende morgen opstonden, zaten dezelfde 'te vriendelijke' mannen al te wachten! Wederom vroegen ze geld voor de school, maar wij hebben vriendelijk uit proberen te leggen dat we al een ander dorp in Nepal helpen en dat niet overal kunnen doen. De sherpa's waren verdacht vroeg klaar en snel zijn we op pad gegaan voor de laatste etappe naar Bojpur. Heel vervelend om te zien dat de 'te vriendelijke' mannen achterbleven bij de familie waar we zo gastvrij mochten kamperen. Geen twijfel mogelijk dat zij na ons vertrek minstens de helft van het net aan ons verdiende geld moeten afstaan aan deze vermoedelijk Maoisten. Na de laatste drie bergkammen en ongeveer vijf uur lopen, kwamen we aan bij de militaire checkpost aan de rand van Bojpur. Na een beleefd Namastee en het beantwoorden van de standaard vragen (waar komen jullie vandaan, wat komen jullie hier doen en welke nationaliteit hebben jullie?) mochten we doorlopen en vonden het enige beschikbare 'Hotel' in het dorp. Van enige hygiene hadden ze daar niet gehoord, maar op zo'n laatste avond kan je een hoop hebben en de zoveelste Dhal Bhat smaakte eigenlijk best goed. Na een onrustige nacht vol blaffende honden, kraaiende hanen en om 04uur wakker wordende Nepalezen, zijn we vroeg naar het vliegveld gelopen in de hoop een chartervlucht terug naar Kathmandu te kunnen krijgen. Na 5 uur wachten naast de opgeblazen verkeerstoren op het vleigveld, kon Daniel met de sateliettelefoon contact maken met onze agent in Kathmandu en kwam het onrustende bericht. Alle vliegtuigen vlogen op Lukhla (in de druk bezochte Kumbu Vallei) en dus was er geen over om naar Bojpur te komen. Er zou al iets anders onderweg zijn?! Helaas voor de sherpa's was dat een 4 persoons helikopter, wat betekende dat de drie quiries (blanken) en de sirdar Jangbu mee konden vliegen, maar de rest van de sherpa's nog twee dagen lopen en een dag in de bus voor de boeg hadden. Daniel, John, Jangbu en ik zijn ingestapt voor een te gekke vlucht van een uur, over Nirmalidanda terug naar Kathmandu. De piloot was zelfs zo aardig om als groet een rondje laag boven Nirmalidanda te cirkelen. We konden de dorpelingen uit hun huizen zien rennen en naar ons zwaaien! Ze moeten vast geweten hebben wie dat waren... En na een geweldige tocht van twee weken door afgelegen Nepal, zaten we 's avonds na 28? Dhal Bhats heerlijk te smullen van een Italiaanse pizza! Nu de service trek teneinde is en ik met eigen ogen gezien heb hoe afwezig of karig de gezondheids- en onderwijssituatie in de afgelegen dorpen van Nepal is, zou ik graag meer bijdragen aan de ontwikkeling daarvan. De Mount Everest Foundation voor Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet is een non-profit organisatie met naar mijn idee de juiste aanpak. Door bijvoorbeeld jonge, gemotiveerde dorpelingen te zoeken, in Kathmandu op te lijden en dan in hun eigen dorp te laten werken, wordt voorkomen dat leraren of gezonheidswerkers na hun ontvangen salaris het dorp verlaten en vertrekken naar Kathmandu. Door de betrokkenheid bij hun dorp en de sociale banden die de gezondheidswerkers in Patale hebben is de kans groot dat zij de komende jaren aldaar hun functie zullen blijven vervullen. Ze zijn juist erg trots op hun goede baan en door hun bekendheid is voor dorpelingen de drempel om op consult te komen mooi laag. Graag zou ik op velerlei manieren geld inzamelen voor dit mooie en zo tastbare doel. Begin volgend jaar ben ik in februari in Nederland en Belgie beschikbaar voor bijvoorbeeld het geven van een diapresentatie. Deze zou over de afgelopen servicetrek kunnen gaan, eventueel gecombineerd met een van mijn eerdere trekkings (Manaslu circuit of Everest Basecamp trek zowel aan de Tibetaanse als aan de Nepalese kant) of de recente beklimming van Ama Dablam, 6856m. Mocht u geinteresseerd zijn in een diapresentatie en/of willen brainstormen over andere mogelijkheden, neem dan gerust contact met

me op.  Expeditie- en service trek leider Daniel Mazur (USA) is eveneens in de tweede helft van februari volgend jaar beschikbaar voor diapresentaties, eventueel vergezeld door ms. Pemba Dolma Sherpa (eerste Nepalese vrouw op de top van Everest). Graag tot ziens! Voor nu heel erg bedankt voor uw belangstelling! Elselien te Hennepe.









Jangbu, Elselien, and John in chopper.


Here is a photo by John Vavruska showing Dan sitting in our Nirmali Danda campsite, next to a hay stack, typing emails and sending digital photo and email dispatches by satellite email modem, powered by a solar panel. All of our satellite email and phone communications were provided by Vickee Staehler of Four Winds Communications



Final Dispatch from 2004 Service Trek for Mt. Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nepal and Tibet



John Vavruska writes:

As I write this, snow is falling outside my window and Northern New Mexico is getting its first good blanket of snow. I’m back home again with my family after 15 remarkable days in the remote hills of eastern Nepal. How different our worlds are. It now all seems like a dream. Actually, it was a dream….fulfilled! I knew I would return to Nepal one day - its wonderful people and magnificent landscape are irresistible to those who “get the bug”. I was fortunate twenty years ago to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal. And once again, I’ve had the privilege to return to Nirmalidanda and be welcomed back with amazing hospitality.



The focus of our Service Trek in support of the Mt. Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nepal and Tibet were the Sherpa village of Patale in northern Okhaldhunga district and the village of Nirmalidanda in Khotang district. Overall, I am encouraged by what I saw and experienced in Nepal compared to twenty years ago. On the positive side, sanitation has improved with the construction of many latrines in villages that did not have a single one before. The forests everywhere we visited look larger and healthier than before thanks to community forest protection programs implemented at the village level. Health posts staffed by trained health workers and stocked with appropriate medicines and supplies are more common than before, thanks to the efforts of organizations like the Mt. Everest Foundation.



Sadly, the construction of gravity flow drinking water systems which were being supported by both the government of Nepal and UNICEF when I was here before now appear to be a thing of the past. The systems that were built at that time are almost all in a state of disrepair due to a lack of funds for their upkeep. And of course the Maoist insurgency remains a source of tension for Nepalis. It has tragically taken many lives and negatively impacts the hill villagers. As foreigners, we always felt safe as we walked through the hills, even when we did encounter Maoists. The insurgency vs. the government is an issue that will have to be resolved by the Nepali people and let’s hope in a peaceful manner.



In the coming months, I look forward to giving slide presentations about our 2004 Service Trek and hope that we can count on support for the new Health Post in Patale and upgrade of the water system in Nirmalidanda. These two projects are directly improving the lives of people in remote hill villages who deeply appreciate it, by providing basic human needs - health care and clean drinking water. If you would like to host a slide show or would just like to talk about rural development in Nepal, please contact me at



I want to thank several people who helped make our journey a pleasant reality. Dan Mazur’s enthusiasm, understanding, and love of Nepal along with his encouragement led me to finally say, why not go back to the village this year? Elselien te Hennepe’s curiosity about Nepal and care for it’s people were an inspiration and positive influence throughout our trek. Our Sherpa staff, all from the villages of Patale - Jangbu, Gyaluk, Shera, Tenzing, Sapte, Kandu, Lhakpa, and Gyalzen can’t be thanked enough for their constant care, loyalty, and desire to do this Service Trek as a team. Equally appreciated were the cheerful contributions of our Rai porters Niranjan and Raj Kumar from the village of Gudel, a place we’d all like to visit someday. Many thanks to Murari Sharma of Parivar Trekking for successfully getting us in and out of a logistically difficult region on schedule. Finally, I really appreciate the support of my wife Laura and daughter Annie, who understood how important this journey was to me and encouraged me to go.



Thank you very much, and I am looking forward to hearing from you. Yours Sincerely, John Vavruska



In this photo, Dr. Lee Levin is reviewing and adding to the list of necessary medical and hospital supplies needed at the new Patale Health Post. On the left is Jamyang Sherpa, and on the right is Pasi Sherpa. Both Sherpas are health care workers from the local village, trained by the Everest Foundation.



Service trek acknowledgement: Dr. Lee Levin



I just wanted to send you and everyone at my sincere apologies. I almost forgot to acknowledge the fine contributions of Dr. Lee Levin to our service trek. He was extremely helpful to us, and verified the usefulness of the work of the Mount Everest Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet, especially during our visit to the Patale Health Clinic, where he carefully checked all of the medicines, and reviewed the staff's equipment list, making suggestions, giving ideas and hints, etcetera. Also, he generously donated antibiotics to the clinic, for which everyone was deeply grateful. It was so important to have a physician like Lee in our midst, during our first ever visit to the newly

opened clinic, because he gave an important stamp of approval to what the newly trained health workers are doing and endorsed their focus and the chosen direction for the future as a good one. It was especially nice to have Dr. Lee with us, because he is familiar with practicing medicine in rural settings with people from developing regions. So, thanks very much for acknowledging our debt of gratitude to Dr. Levin, and once again, thanks to for watching out for the poor families and environments far from the beaten track in the Mount Everest region. Yours Sincerely, Daniel



Here is a photo by John Vavruska showing Elselien and the ladies of Nirmalai Danda looking at a photo that Elselien just took of them with her father's digital camera.



photo of John Vavruska standing in front of one of the last surviving tap stands of the Nirmali Danda water project. John Designed and built this tap stand in 1984.


Here is a photo taken by John Vavruska of Jangbu Sherpa, looking proud in the Patale Health Post, which he founded to help the 4000 people in this district, who before this time had no access to health care, and had to walk three days and take a bus for one day, in case of emergency, so they could get to the nearest meager health services. Before the Patale health clinic was established, many villagers died on the way to get health care. In the left side of the photo, a mother is holding her infant who has just received treatment for an infected cut.


We really appreciate the efforts of in showcasing the latest service trek under the auspices of the Mount Everest Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet. Here is a photo taken by John Vavruska from the ridge above Patale Village, where the new health post is located. In the center of the photo, you can see a long "ridge" which is Nuptse, and the pyramid-shaped peak to the right of it is Mount Everest, on a clear morning in November.



This photo, taken by John Vavruska, shows a woman standing in her doorway of Nirmalaia Danda village, holding a photo, taken last week, of herself and child that John Vavruska took 20 years ago.


We hope to continue to tell our story in 2005, and those of us who recently trekked into rural Nepal to visit a newly born remote health clinic and a 20 year old village water system first installed in 1984 by Sante Fe's John Vavruska, are presenting a lecture generously hosted by the Asher family at Wild Mountain's exhibition space at 7:15 pm on Wednesday 26 January at:



Wild Mountain

(nr. Candyman)

851 St. Michaels Dr.

Sante Fe, NM, 87505



Its a fundraiser slideshow for repairs to John's water project (he has beautiful photos to show), and more medicine for the new health clinic. We hope that Ms. Elselien te Hennepe from Rotterdam will also be in attendance and show her fun photos, as well. Daniel Mazur also has a few slides, stories and video to share of recent treks and climbs in the Khumbu Valley and Everest from Tibet. Dan is bringing the 3 satellite phone systems and new lightweight oxygen system they are using on Everest.



For tickets please contact Jon and Jan Asher at: Phone: (505) 986-1152, Toll Free: 1-800-988-1152