Target: Bhim Acharya, Nepali Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation
Goal: Call on the government of Nepal to honor important workers’ rights which native Sherpas demand must be met if they are to continue serving as guides on Mt. Everest climbs
In mid-April several dozen Sherpa guides were stringing ropes to help climbers ascend Mt. Everest when they were hit by an avalanche and hurled from the mountain. Sixteen were killed. The Sherpa people of Nepal are famed for their expertise at high elevations, and are commonly employed as guides on climbing expeditions. For years they have appealed to their government for improved working conditions, and following the April tragedy a group of Sherpas said they will not continue facilitating the climbing season unless their demands are met.
All who want to attempt to climb Mt. Everest must first pay the Ministry of Tourism a peak fee of $10,000. This amounts to millions every year, very little of which goes to help the Sherpas working on the mountain. Corruption in Nepal is rampant. Many Nepali people live in poverty, and much of the fee money is pocketed by bureaucrats. The Sherpas and their supporters have petitioned the Ministry of Tourism to set aside 30% of the peak fees as a mountaineering relief fund, among other demands.
While the government has said it will make some of the changes required to avert a general strike, other needs continue to be ignored. Call on the Ministry of Tourism to fully support the Sherpas’ demands and ensure the health and wellbeing of the native guides that make Nepal’s tourism industry possible.
Dear Mr. Acharya,
The tragic avalanche that struck Mt. Everest on April 18th shone a light on the dangerous conditions Sherpa guides endure to make mountaineering expeditions possible. Tourism brings millions of dollars every year to your country, and without Sherpas to set ropes and assist Western climbers there would effectively be no climbing season on Mt. Everest.
Recently you and your colleagues at the Ministry of Tourism were presented with a list of demands from the Sherpa community. I am grateful to know that the government of Nepal has already agreed to some of these changes, such as raising the value of life insurance policies and paying for the education of children whose parents died working on the mountain. But there are other stated needs which have yet to be addressed.
I urge you to fully support the Sherpas’ demands for improved working conditions and protections. Theirs is incredibly dangerous work without which the nation of Nepal would lose much-needed revenue from Western climbing expeditions. To ensure that they are fairly compensated, and that a system is in place to aid their families when tragedy does strike, is both reasonable and just.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: McKay Savage via Flickr