If you can bring a smile to somebody’s face it is a very good thing

Do Good, Be Good

 

Name: Dorji Tsering Sherpa

Age: 60

 

Dorji Sherpa is the CEO of SKY Foundation who was born in the year of the horse, 1954 at Namche Bazaar, Solukhumbu district in Nepal. The third child of his parents, he has an elder sister and two brothers. As a child Dorji was obedient, curious to learn and adventurous right from the beginning. “I always had a hunger to learn, share knowledge I had and was active in extracurricular activities. Like all school children, I wanted to be a doctor and help the poor.”

The most memorable moment in his life was the first day of school when he joined Hillary’s Primary School in Khumjung. “We were so carefree with no worries, just enjoying everything when everyone loves you and that is also why I want to help school children.” Dorji’s parents Pasang Futar Sherpa and Lhakpa Sherpa were very hard working. His father was one of the members of the first Everest expedition in 1953. “My father used to cross the borders of Tibet on foot to sell agricultural products in exchange for salt and other necessities. It was only later that yaks were used for transport; life at that time was difficult. It was only after 1953 that tourists started coming when life became better.”

Dorji’s parents lost eight children before him and because of which they walked to Bodh Gaya to pray for a healthy child after which he was born. “My mother used to collect wood even when she was 9 months pregnant with me. All the Sherpa names were based on the week days but I was called Dorji which was based on Dorji Den meaning Bodh Gaya in the Sherpa language since I was conceived after their visit there.”

Around 1953 Dorji’s father went to Darjeeling with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa (the first man to climb Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary) to join the army but instead landed up pulling rickshaws. While there, he saw that even those who worked as labourers sent their children to good schools. This inspired him to do the same, “After he came back he sent me to Kathmandu, I was barely seven years old then and wanted me to join the best school which was St. Xavier’s at that time. As fate would have it, while on our way we came across Adarsh Vidya Mandir which was just being built and I was the first student to be admitted there. My parents did their best to ensure that we had a better life than theirs and they never wanted any of us to face the hardships they did. ”

Throughout his life Dorji had dabbled in lots of ventures and followed his path wherever life led him. He opened his own trekking company in 1974 called Gauri Shankar Trekking and managed it successfully on his own despite no business background till 1986.  “I moved from trekking travel focused on Japanese tourists, to trading, then to aviation. I worked in the Toyota Trading section for 4 to 5 years and that is where I learnt about aircraft.

“My interest in aviation started since I was very young. I used to hear the Pilatus Porter flying over Namche bazaar which was later replaced by the twin otter. While working in trading I realised the need for aircraft in Nepal and that is how my interest grew. I worked in aviation very actively till 2010 August before I lost my youngest daughter Sara to a plane crash in Nepal.”

I started working in aviation from 1989. “My dream was to own my own aviation company called Air Lungta (meaning Flying Horse since I was born in the year of the horse); it was registered but due to various reasons it did not take off. I then worked in Air Lumbini as a Marketing Director.” Dorji has been a pioneer in introducing Nepal to various types of aircrafts. “I was responsible for getting one of the first six twin otter aircrafts to Nepal. I used to go to Canada and look for second hand aircraft. When I went to Tatanagar near Patna in India, I found an unused Twin Otter which I refurbished and sold to Air Lumbini.”

Dorji was also responsible for reviving the single engine aircraft which was banned for fifteen years, the last one belonging to Nikkon Air had crashed in Jumla. He also introduced the Pilatus Porter PC6 which was made in Switzerland. “I went to Malaysia and inspected the PAC750XL aircraft which was brought from New Zealand. In Nepal we need small aircraft more than big ones; these are called STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) aircraft since we do not have big landing spaces.”

With his knowledge in the aviation business Dorji was also instrumental in starting Air Kasthamandap and introducing the Sky Truck aircraft to the army. “It is a multipurpose aircraft made in Czechoslovakia and very good, but is still not certified for general use. I have also supplied aircraft to Yeti airlines. I joined Yeti Airlines and procured aircraft for them as well after which I helped in starting Skyline Airways. I have been very good with starting and then handing over the business. I always hired young people and trained them and sent them to remote areas. I wanted them to learn the hard way so that they get the experience. Sadly enough, there is still a lack of professionalism in Nepal with a lot of family influence in how and where people get jobs.”

Dorji used to work as a freelance consultant for a lot of aviation businesses as well to help them start up.  According to Dorji, “As Raju Shakya the owner of Lumbini Airlines has rightly said, running an airline is like holding on to a tiger’s tail, if you leave the tail, it will turn back and eat you. Till you hold on to the tail there is no stopping you. You are all powerful.”

Of the biggest steps that Dorji took in his personal life was marrying his wife Anju Gurung which was an inter caste marriage defying family norms. “My wife used to work in the Shankar Hotel where I met her. It was love at first sight. My family cut off all ties with me and boycotted me for twenty years. My father accepted and blessed my wife but the rest of the family was not as willing and I even gave up my share of property. In 1976 we had a son who was born prematurely and did not survive. I then had three beautiful daughters, Sharon, Sherry and Sara. My wife and I saw a lot of ups and down in our thirty nine years of togetherness. She passed away recently.”

“There is always a turning point in life where something happens and you make your choices. In August 2010 we lost our youngest daughter Sara in a plane crash, she was an airhostess in the ill-fated Agni Air flight. For four months we were doing rituals. Literally for forty nine days we had at least eighty to ninety people visiting our home along with eleven lamas (monks) who were praying. We went to all the monasteries to light lamps at all the places our daughter had gone in India and Nepal. After a certain point, I stopped believing and got in to Vipassana and we decided to look for the site in Makwanpur, Shikharpur VDC where the plane crashed just six minutes away from Kathmandu by air. Because the weather was bad the plane was diverted and all fourteen people on board passed away. When we got there, the remains were still there. We had taken inscribed plaques with the names of all fourteen on board with us to keep it at the site as a memorial.  While there, we heard a child cry and my wife felt as if our daughter was calling and she wanted to do something about it. The plane had crashed right in front of a school and that is when we decided to help the school.”

After coming back, Dorji met with the Japanese and American Ambassadors to try and contact the families of Yuki and Kendra who were also in the crash so that they could do something together. “We decided to build something, a stupa because the population there was Buddhist. Once we met with the Japanese and American families we decided to start Sky Memorial Foundation in honor/memory of our three children – Sara, Kendra and Yuki (SKY). We used all the insurance money we received for the foundation. Now we support 11 schools, a clinic and are completely involved in the development of the community. The village is inaccessible during monsoon; we are trying to build a road there so that it is accessible. Currently it takes us around eight hours to reach the village, Bastipur but once the road is built we will be able to reach it within five hours. “

Ironically in life, a lot of good happens at the cost of great pain. We lost our daughter but if that incident had not happened then SKY would not have happened. “We take it as Sara leading us to do good for the people in the village. We say that Sara showed us the way, my wife Anju took us there, now it is for me, my daughters and those involved fulfilling the needs of the community. There was a lot of mortality because of lack of knowledge and clinics so we have opened a clinic with three beds. We are also training a nurse in midwifery along with providing medicines and iron supplements. We now have108 students in the school we started with, we started paying 100 Rs. to students who would be present for at least twenty days of the month increasing attendance.  Now we will be focusing on quality and their studies. We are trying to incorporate the teachers from the local community; we have nine teachers from around five surrounding villages. The school we adopted was a Primary school for the past 36 years now it has been upgraded to middle school till class eight called ‘Bakiya Thakur Middle School. We have also installed six to seven computers that were donated. Besides this there are ten other schools in Shikarpur, Phaparbari VDC and now in Manthali which we are supporting.”

Besides SKY Memorial Foundation, Dorji is also involved as the Treasurer of Nepal Vipassana Center, Secretary of Curry without Worry, Patron of Voice of Creative Disabled and other social organizations. “Social work has become my full time work, we are busy with helping senior citizens, eleven schools, running the clinic, upgrading a road named Anju Marga (named after my wife) etc.”

Dorji has been an achiever throughout his life. “I am probably the first Sherpa amateur golfer to reach the handicap of 3. I was also a senior student of Vipassana meditation helping others to learn and I am involved i social work.” Dorji’s life took a sudden turn when his wife passed away recently. He now lives with his daughter, Sherry and three adopted children. “After having lost so many loved ones I have learnt that people having to deal with people have to be very patient. Vipassana helped me through everything; it taught me how to accept the present. At the moment, we are the happiest being. We should respect the present. Accepting is the technique we all have to learn.”

There are still lot of things that Dorji would like to improve and work regarding. “I want to spread awareness of Air transport safety in the domestic airlines in Nepal. I also want to continue helping people know and learn about Vipassana along with giving back something to society. Through Vipassana I have learnt that everyone should try to be good by doing good to others, love yourself then only can you share in this. Trust and follow your instincts and stick to it. You are unique.”

Ageing has been a wonderful experience for Dorji and he believes that it should be enjoyed now and shared. “It is better to live a good and happy life rather than a long and unproductive one. I had the same attitude and conviction when I was young but now I am more mature and experienced and able to explain in a truly practical manner. I think the core character and personality of everyone will be positive or negative, he or she may be honest or dishonest but as you age you can improve and change for the better with knowledge.”

During his free time Dorji would like to undertake new hobbies. ‘I would like to learn something different that is not addictive like golf or a game of cards etc., which will make me happy, as well as, others. My life has taken a full circle with learning, experimenting, love, married life, family, happiness, sadness and knowledge. Now it will be a smooth flow of life without any remorse or expectations or cravings and aversion. I have learnt to maintain a balance so I know it will be good. I would like to be someone who can make others feel good and whose life example will make it possible for others to do the same.”

Dorji believes that we all have different experiences, knowledge and ability to do something which can make a huge impact if we use it for the welfare of the society that we live in. “Respect and appreciation for skilled man power, their experiences and dignity of labor must be instilled in Nepalese businesses and social organizations.”

“We do not realise but we are changing every moment so accepting this and moving on in a positive and balanced manner is what all should strive for. I share my experiences, knowledge and practical solutions in various situations that have come in my life with my daughters so that they can manage their life accordingly without having to experience and face these types of difficulties and hardship. But life must be experienced by all and only then can you know the reality.”

In the future, Dorji wants to devote more time to Vipassana. “SKY Foundation will continue and we are seeking other districts to work with. I want to encourage and guide other people with the knowledge required. We are currently helping around thirty five senior citizens above seventy years of age by providing them with Horlicks, eatables, clothes etc. Once a year we give them a gift and also make funeral arrangements for those who have no family. We are always touched by the response we get. Every year during Buddha Jayanti we gather everyone so that they can meet each other because we realise that many of them are not able to meet their friends because of age. We literally carry them on our backs to get them to the gathering. We took a Rimpoche (a reincarnated high order monk) there recently and they felt blessed. We also want to start a play group and I cannot expect all the students to become a doctor or an engineer but we want them to at least learn English. We also want to connect parents with their children working abroad through internet and that is why we have started the Irina Sheketh Memorial Community Library. Irina was also in the crash and her family has contributed to the building of the library. We also want to start vegetable farming to economically sustain the community. We are trying to connect people so that there is development. The villagers greet us as if we are royalty; it is a feeling which surpasses your understanding at times. If you can bring a smile to somebody’s face it is a very good thing.”

Learning I want to Share:

  • Do good, be good
  • Love yourself then only can you share it
  • Trust and follow your instincts and stick to it
  • You are unique
  • Life must be experienced by all and only then can you know reality
  • We are changing every moment, accepting and moving on in a positive and balanced manner is what all should strive for
  • We should respect the present
  • Accepting is the technique we all have to learn.”

 

Dorji is the CEO of SKY Memorial Foundation; he is also involved as the Treasurer of Nepal Vipassana Center, Secretary of Curry without Worry, Patron of Voice of Creative Disabled and other social organizations. An avid follower of Vipassana, he is always willing to help and guide those in need. He can be reached at: http://www.skymemorialfoundation.org/about, dorjisherpa95@gmail.com

 

 

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