Nepal: Chhing Lamu Sherpa

I believe that it is important to contribute to the root of a tree for good fruits.

— Chhing Lamu Sherpa

For the past two decades, Chhing Lamu Sherpa (born 1960) has played a pivotal role in empowering women and extremely marginalized groups in eastern Nepal. As an educated professional woman working to improve the lives of poor and deprived mountain communities, she is a role model for other members of Nepal's Sherpa community, an ethnic minority living off the rural mountainous areas, often as expedition guides.

Chhing Lamu Sherpa faced ridicule when she started to go to school-she was an "old" 17 years of age. Family problems had prevented her from attending school earlier. But, putting in a lot of hard work, she obtained her school-leaving certificate at 23. The determination that took Chhing to her first village school in Phinjoling village in the Udaipur district of eastern Nepal also helped her make a success of her life. Not only was this farmer's daughter the first girl in her village to complete high school, she also went to college, earning a graduate diploma in Rural Extension and Women from Reading University (UK). She started out in 1982 as a junior instructor in a government-run women's training center, training women workers, and advising housewives on managing their kitchen gardens. Five years later, she worked with Action Aid Nepal (AAN) as senior community organizer and gender development coordinator for five years. Chhing left AAN to join the Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Project, wanting to learn about environment and conservation issues. She organized local women in conservation and development. In 1994, the young men of the area, especially Sherpas, motivated her to form Mountain Spirit, an organization for the uplift of the young. She helped mobilize about 2000 community members and 75 youths to work as trainers, of whom 20 have become national-level trainers. Seven years later, Chhing transferred Mountain Spirit's leadership to the youth she had enlisted. Since 2004, she has been employed by Plan Nepal, a nonpolitical and nongovernmental child-centered community development organization, as a district program manager. Initially criticized for traveling with male colleagues, she has today been honored by organizations like the Nepal Sherpa Association for her contribution to the social sector.

Plan Nepal Mountain Spirit