Most people have only encouragement for anyone attempting to scale Mt Everest – but not Raglan woman Robbyn Storey who’s campaigning to stop one seasoned sherpa from ever again climbing the world’s highest peak.
Kame Magar risks not only his own life but with every climb jeopardises the lives of 29 children in his care at Solu Child Welfare Orphanage in a remote village near Kathmandu, she says.
He has rescued them all from dire circumstances over the years and they will be “back on the street” if anything happens to him, Robbyn fears.
The survivor of both a 2014 avalanche at Everest’s base camp – which killed his 13 fellow climbers – and of an earthquake on the mountain in 2015, Kame cannot afford to risk cheating death once more, she says.
Yet still he is preparing for a climb next year as he’s desperate to continue funding the family-run orphanage he opened eight years ago. Robbyn says Kame’s family – his parents, wife and four daughters – are “terrified” of what will happen should he not survive.
Kame continues to lead paid expeditions as he wants to put food on the table for the kids regardless, Robbyn explains.
Robbyn has taken things into her own hands and started fundraising to ‘Help Kame Never Climb Everest’.
Despite its 40,000 online views, however, her GoFundMe project has had only 47 donations.
And Robbyn is at a loss as to how else to help Kame, who has recently been involved in search and rescue for flood victims in Kathmandu.
The plight of his orphanage has touched Robbyn – a volunteer with the ‘Buds to Blossoms’ programme of pediatric massage – because unlike most it has no church-organised funding behind it.
Kame has simply gone trekking for years, returning each time with both money and another needy child or two to add to a household bursting at the seams. The children are housed, clothed, fed and educated despite their primary caregiver being “terribly poor” and with the constant threat of creditors at his door.
“He’s the most selfless human being I have ever come across,” says Robbyn, who was most recently at Solu in April amid what she describes as happy chaos.
Robbyn herself sponsors two of the children – 14-year-old Dep and six-year-old Maya – as does Raglan osteopath Russell Gaddes. Robbyn’s adult daughter also sponsors a child.
But half the children of Solu still need sponsors to the tune of $US800 each per year, she says. This covers their costs, including the good schools they’re sent to because Kame insists they have what he never had.
Robbyn is grateful for generous donations from the likes of Gretchen Hamilton of Artisan and Merchant downtown but hopes more Raglan individuals, groups or businesses can help out too.
Since first speaking to the Chronicle last week, Robbyn says she’s heard Kame is in jail because of unpaid debt. “There’s about $US5000 owing for food and general borrowing to keep the kids alive,” she says.
Visit the Solu Child Welfare Orphanage Association website and ‘Help Kame Never Climb Everest’ via GoFundMe. Or call Robbyn on 021836774.