I interviewed Phinjo Sherpa, a man working in Nepal with Eco Himal (Society for Cooperation Alps-Himalaya). Eco Himal is an international NGO with the aim of protecting the Himalayan environment and culture. Eco Himal is especially important for its roll in supporting Nepal after the earthquakes, which may be mostly forgotten and seem distant but still leave long shadows in the region. Phinjo Sherpa also kindly allowed zachofjungle.com to post some of his photos of recent clean up projects.
First would you mind telling me about yourself, your name, where you’re from and what you do with Society for Cooperation Alps-Himalaya?
- My name is Phinjo Sherpa. I am from Namche Bazar that is the main Sherpa village in Mount Everest region. I worked as office manager and later became country director for Eco Himal (Society for cooperation Alps-Himalaya) as an INGO from 1992 to 2009. At present, I am the chairperson of Eco Himal Nepal, which is the sister organization of Eco Himal ((Society for cooperation Alps-Himalaya) and National NGO in Nepal.
What does Society for Cooperation Alps-Himalaya do; what are its goals?
- Eco Himal’s main goal is to uplift the life standard of local community of mountainous region without disturbing its ecology, environment, social and cultural structure.
How did you come to be involved in mountaineering, and how did you become part of Society for Cooperation Alps-Himalaya?
- I am not involved in the mountaineer as I was educated in management and worked with organizing projects. However, I was involved in “Saving Mount Everest – clean-up campaign” by organizing the mountaineers to clean Mt. Everest. I was involved with Eco Himal when the Hydro Power project was being implemented in Namche Bazar.
What are the waste management projects that Society for Cooperation Alps-Himalaya has been carrying out in the Everest region? How successful have they been, what problems or hardships have you encountered?
- “Saving Mount Everest” was the project title given to the waste management project in the region. In 2011, we organized clean-up of Mt. Everest, along with organizing various awareness campaigns in the region. During 2012 – 2014, we were involved in educating the local on waste management, constructing waste containers and public toilets along the routes, and trainings on segregation of waste and recycling.
- The project was a great success and appreciated by the locals and trekkers/mountaineers. We didn’t face much problem, except time limitation. We had to adjust the time of the project activities, when people are free from their busy tourism season as the Spring and Autumn season are the best for trainings/workshops and campaigns but the locals are very busy during these months.
What do you like about working in the Himalaya? What do you not like? What are some of the best and hardest parts of your work?
- Working in the Himalaya is a reward as you feel good to help the people in these remote villages. Sharing and implementing our knowledge and experiences are a great benefit for the people in the region. Having no road transport and depending on the flight is the hardest part, as the flight depends on weather condition. Due to this, we have to walk daily from village to village, which was the hard part.
Is there anything else you want people to know about the Himalaya, Everest, Society for Cooperation Alps-Himalaya, Nepal or yourself?
- Eco Himal is a non-profit NGO, that has been working with local grass-roots organisations in the Himalayas since 1992. Its projects aim at generating income and bringing long-term benefit to the lives of the local population, while giving high priority to the participation of local manpower and organizations on formulation of development projects and implementation.
- Eco Himal was fully engaged in supporting the victims of Nepal Earthquake in 2015 through relief works, reconstruction and rehabilitation of people living the remote villages.