"Together We Reach Higher" is the motto of the Seven Summit Women climbing team of Nepal. This all-star team of climbers includes Nimdoma Sherpa, who scaled Mount Everest at age 17.
In April these amazing athletes were suddenly confronted with their greatest challenge, after a massive earthquake struck their homeland.
The Seven Summit Women set out on a mission to save their country from the epic disaster. They have received some inspiring help along the way. Here are a few stories of the many heroes that have emerged in Nepal over the last three months.
It starts with a helicopter approaching a monastery in the remote Himalayan mountains. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) sent this helicopter on a special mission. Inside the monastery were children who needed to be rescued. Time was running out.
After the earthquake hit, access to the monastery had become cut off. Debris blocked many roads and passages. Food supplies were running out and action had to be taken right away.
The headmaster of this monastery in the Himalayas, Lopen Mygyur, pleaded, "Since the earthquake struck on 25 April, the trail to the lowlands has been cut off by landslides, and we have not had enough food for the monks and the students." (photo courtesy WFP/James Giambrone)
An aftershock made things even worse. No longer could they hope to deliver enough supplies by road.
WFP dispatched the helicopter and airlifted 60 children to safety. Upon landing, a warm meal awaited the children.
WFP is leading a hunger relief mission to feed around 3 million earthquake victims in Nepal. But many villages are in hard-to-reach mountainous areas. Regular truck convoys cannot bring in the food. So just how do you get food into these remote locations?
Mountain climbers can get the job done! That is why WFP teamed up with the Seven Summit Women on food deliveries. Chunu Shrestha, Nimdoma Sherpa, Pema Diki Sherpa and Asha Kumari Singh are the team members helping with food aid.
WFP spokesperson Seetashma Thapa says the climbers have brought rice, lentils, salt and oil to villages in the earthquake affected districts.
Strength of women! More women showed up to help carry Nimdoma's relief supplies to remote Simi Gau, a treacherous 3 hrs uphill walk in the laps of Rolwaling mountains. (Photo courtesy of the Seven Summit Women)
The Seven Summit Women also got some help from the other side of the world, all the way from Los Angeles. It was from Hollywood actress Bojana Novakovic.
She is an award-winning actress, but she has found her most important role in Nepal. Bojana had actually met the Seven Summit Women prior, and even gave them lodging when they had visited Los Angeles.
When the earthquake struck Bojana knew she had to do something to help. Fundraising and donations were one way. She then traveled to Nepal as a volunteer. She has worked alongside team members Maya Gurung and Shailee Basnet with the rebuilding of the schools in Bhotenamlang.
Actress Bojana Novakovic spent a month volunteering in Nepal, helping with earthquake relief and inspiring girls. 'She came in as a bright-eyed foreigner and left with a soul of a villager' says the Seven Summit Women. (photos courtesy of the Seven Summit Women)
Bojana warns that one of the dangers facing children and families is that of trafficking. With such chaos and poverty following a disaster the poor are even more vulnerable to the dangerous elements of society.
In late June, when it was time for Bojana to head home, she did not want to leave. But helping Nepal is something she will continue. Bojana says,
"it feels like the greatest need overall is moral support and the maintenance of hope.. Obviously money is a big player in this, but so is volunteering. These are communities where everyone is doing everything they can. The villages are assembling volunteers to rebuild, to teach in classes where there are no teachers and they just don't have the means to hold up everything. they do need help.
As time passes the work will get even harder to rebuild Nepal. Emergencies will occur in other parts of the globe, taking some attention away. Funding is always an issue. So it's important that people and organizations stay with the cause and come back to help.
WFP's Richard Ragan says, "the first emergency may be over, but the work is only beginning. Shelters must be rebuilt, livelihoods must be restored and crops must be planted and harvested. Otherwise, what is now a difficult food situation will get worse."
Nepal was an impoverished country even before the earthquake, so imagine how difficult things are after a major disaster. But they have their heroes. They have the Seven Summit Women.