The morning on our full day in Sibuje was a delight. We learned much from some of the elders about the village, its people, history, and current challenges to daily life. After lunch, we were in for a special treat. Sibuje now has a primary school teacher, who teaches the village kids through grade 3. Although his salary from year to year is not guaranteed, as he is paid by a foreign NGO, not the Nepali government, he provides a tremendous resource to the children.
One of Karma’s Japanese friends bought school uniforms and donated them to Sibuje. We were invited to join a celebration all afternoon at the school, where Karma and Glen gave brief speeches about the Karma project before Karma gave the happy kids their new uniforms.
Upon walking into the playground, we were immediately greeted as special honored guests. The people of the village went well out of their way to show their gratitude for what the Karma Project is doing for their village. We were seated at a head table, and literally every family welcomed each of us with a traditional silk kata scarf. It was more than a little funny to watch all of us try to manage the huge mountains of scarves around our necks.
After we were all settled in with our kata scarves and tea (you can not sit down as a guest in Nepal without tea being readily offered and refilled), Karma and Glen spoke a bit to the village about the goals of the Karma Project. Seeing the gratitude of the people of Sibuje in this way was truly an unexpected treat. Something that started as one friend asking another for some help with his village has blossomed into a truly wonderful and impactful project.
Like everything they do, when Sherpa people welcome guests and say thanks, they spare no effort. After the ‘official’ part of the afternoon was over and speeches were made, we were all treated to some dancing. To begin, some of the school children took to the open space and danced to a popular Nepali song that Christen and I learned early on in the trek. The main words of the chorus are, “…slowly, slowly, slowly..” It became our mantra for the trek. Next, some of the adults demonstrated their dancing moves. We were even treated to a traditional Sherpa Dance, where four villagers (including one of our porters, Pasang) dressed in traditional clothing and chanted an almost haunting song.
After the talented dancers finished their displays, the rest of us were invited to join the fun. Several generations of people took part; no one was spared the embarrassment of showing just how badly they move across the dance floor. Glen even gave a few lessons in silliness, something for which he could easily receive an honorary doctorate. During the fun, I was never wanting for an assistant. It seems that Sibuje has several aspiring photographers/filmmakers.
At the end of the afternoon, the shared sense of friendship and family was impossible to ignore. We were all welcomed with open arms. However, the thing that was most heartening to see was how the kids of the village were already directly benefiting from the Karma Project. What started as Glen helping his friend Karma has now grown well beyond that relationship. People from all over the world have jumped in to help to make the lives of the people of Sibuje a little bit easier.