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  Mt. Everest 2005: American George Dijmarescu attempts to summit Everest for the 7th time and his wife, Lakpa Sherpa, for the 5th time: Among Tibetans


Self portrait, yeah was cold up there ©George Dijmarescu

Update 4/27/2005: Never before in my previous seven years in Tibet was I touched by the spirit and humanity of the simple Tibetan man and I am referring to the poorest of all, The Yak Man. The people who serve us with their animals, carrying our loads up to ABC. This year I met an old friend who will come and give me a big hug, a hug which is a common language for all. He speaks little or no English, my Tibetan is limited to a Tashi Deleh and a few other words I learned over the years.

Because these Tibetans are marked by the Chinese and because I wish not to go into anything political, I will conceal his identity by just naming him Gombu. Gombu is a man who often defies the strict Chinese rules of doing nothing without their knowledge, this to me proves he is courageous, knowing he could end up in a really bad situation. I hired this man thinking he will get the whole benefit of his work and not just a small cut from the Chinese. The little employment I provided for him brought back a kindness only known by few people. He came back to me and through translation he announced that the sheep cheese he provided for me last year and the one I eat with surprisingly good appetite at the camp 8300 meters, Gombu remembers something he could provide for me, the little pound of cheese from his flock. Gombu could not offer more, simply he is so poor materially, but rich in spirit.

This time Gombu brought much more cheese for me, perhaps more than I could finish. In anticipation of my coming he saved as much as he could to please me. I pulled a $10 bill from my wallet and handed to him, at first he didn't understand the value of the bill handed to him and look at it with admiration at my new green back, then I give him $20.00 more and asked him to buy some vegetables for his children who I am sure get almost nothing year around. After the translation was completed I noticed him sobbing and slowly he

could not be stopped from crying in a honest, heartfelt way. I pat his back and he reply in Tibetan: My God this man give me so much money and I don't know what to do with it. After several minutes of embarrassing crying scenario, Gombu calmed down and invited me to his house, to meet his 3 children and his wife, but before, Gombu warned me that his house is very poor and he wanted to apologize up front for whatever I found in his house.

 

Gombu's mother died not long time ago and he borrowed almost $400 to properly give a fair well to his beloved mother, that sum of money is very hard to come around. He plans to pay back the loan in several years, perhaps do two or three crosses over the dangerous Nampa La (Pass) into Nepal, selling Chinese goods. The Nampa La crossing takes about two weeks in order to reach Nepal Namche Bazar and Thame, then Gombu will have to rest his Yak caravan for thirty days in order to strengthen the beasts enough to make the cross back into the more barren Tibet. Gombu told me stories when  some weak Tibetans didn't make it over the pass and they were buried where they fell, some ill, some too old for the journey. I asked Gombu if he will be willing to let me walk by his caravan and document on video this sometime dangerous journey, he assured me he will take good care of me but I told him that is not what I am interested in, I want to feel the harsh conditions as they feel, just perhaps having a small generator to power the cameras and  charging batteries. What an experience that will be, the length of the journey is more than any Everest expedition and I am sure I will be in deep trouble with Sunny [George's daughter] and my parents. Perhaps one day when Sunny is big enough to hike along we will do this with my old friend Gombu.

 

After Gombu and I split for the night I was thinking and analyzing how in the name of God can these 3.5 million Tibetans, (the population of my home state of Connecticut) can be brought to a better standard of living without disturbing the political situation already very delicate here on the "Roof of the world". I recall going to the web page of Richard Gere, a well respected actor among the Buddhist elite, a man who helped raise millions of dollars for the Tibetan cause, but I didn't find anything guaranteeing that 100% of the money is going directly to the cause, where it is needed.  I don't pretend to be a Tibetan advocate, although I will like very much so, however I believe if the poverty is alleviated one household at a time by people who are in contact here with these poor Tibetans, in time and I mean short time, the Tibetans I know will slowly pull themselves out of this slavery and not seek employment with the Chinese, all this without, as I said ofsetting the political situation. I don't believe the Chinese will have any weapon against me making a Tibetan family happy. And I asked Gombu how  he will be happy, he started by saying that he will like to make his house bigger, first to honor his mother and second to see his children having their own room. I know how important this is , he went on and said if he can have a nice house (buy his standards) he will like to send his son to school, for now the little boy is looking after the family sheep flock and for him to go to school is a long shot.

 

As I lay down inside my sleeping bag I came up with an idea: Poverty Alleviation in Tibet, in short PAT. Upon my return to Connecticut I will try to register this as a non profit organization, unlike others. All funds received and I mean 100% will go to the needy Tibetan families and my starting point is at the bottom of Mt  Everest. With your generous help needy Tibetans can raise to a level of acceptable poverty, a time when they can provide vegetables for their children and who knows, maybe even send them to school.

 

Here I will like to take a few lines and share with you a biter sweet story of a bright Tibetan girl who wanted to become a doctor, perhaps she felt intelligent enough to fulfill her dream, also she wanted to help taking care of unhealthy Tibetans. She was a poor girl from one of the little villages below Mt. Everest, so she didn't  have the money to pay for the distant Chinese school in Lhasa, so she asked a Tibetan who was employed by Chinese army with a huge salary of $500.00 a month, the man paid her school but demanded a huge interest. Of course the young doctor didn't have such money to pay back the loan and was forced to marry the wealthy Tibetan son, they seem to do OK, she fulfilled her promise by returning to her village and now she covers several villages with the little medicine she is provided. I found this true story a fascinating one.

 

Knowing that Tibetans require little the young doctor might be just fine. I have decided to visit Gombu's house at the end of my expedition here. I will try to take pictures and an video depicting the real injustice, showing poverty at its luster. I will post it on the web site for people to see, sometimes a picture will say a thousand words.

 

I am looking at the hundreds of climbers here trying their luck, just like myself and wonder how wonderful our worlds are, with hot showers, electricity, running water. I cannot remain cold and not try at least help others less fortunate. I am not politician but I want to be involved. In my opinion, young Tibetans with education should raise and start changing the image of a Tibetan society based on religious activities, yes His Holiness The Dalai Lama has his palace but it is showing it's age. China is planning bold industrial projects and I know they are capable of doing it: The Lhasa rail road will probably seal the fate of Tibetans, when the Northern Chinese Han > will have the means to travel to Tibet they will come by millions and as I observed in just eight years the dramatic changing of the border town of Zangmu. In 1998 there were few Chinese there, now there are few Tibetans and this is not by political deportation or otherwise but by ECONOMICAL MEANS. The Chinese saw an opportunity in the border town and they took it by buying the Tibetans out. I am afraid same thing will happen in Tibet.

 

If is one thing that might work for the Tibetans is the harsh temperatures at which Tibetans are far better than the Chinese and as I said if the poverty level is somehow reduced then the Tibetans might not be interested in their Chinese visitors. Please help these people by writing a check to Poverty Alleviation in Tibet (PAT). along with your address and contact number. I will let you know what happens with your Dollars. This is my promise.

 

Sincerely,

George Dijmarescu

Six times Everest summiter, all in Tibet

Update Page 2005

 

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