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Kangchenjunga sunset

How Kangchenjunga School Project began

What began as a tragedy for nurse Cherie Bremer-Kamp has evolved into a continuing commitment to the people of Kangenjunga.

In the winter of 1985, Cherie and her husband, Dr Chris Chandler, attempted to climb Mount Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak. When almost at the summit, Chandler died from altitude sickness and Bremer-Kamp and her sherpa companion were severely frostbitten. The Sherpas and Tibetans living in villages below came to their aid, carrying them from 17,000 feet to 10,000 feet, over precipitous trails, to the safety of a village, Ghunsa. From there they were flown to Kathmandu for medical treatment.

Return to Kangchenjunga

Bremer-Kamp asked these villagers what she could do to repay their kindness. Their request was to improve the educational opportunities for their children and to provide health services for the community at large. And this she promised to do.

In 1989, Bremer-Kamp coordinated the construction of a nine-room school and outfitted a medical clinic in Ghunsa, the highest permanent settlement on the route to Kangchenjunga base camp. She also trained a local Buddhist monk to act as a “barefoot doctor”, providing basic healthcare services to other villages nearby.

Funds for the project came from illustrated lectures, which she gave across three continents followed the publishing of her book, Living on the edge: The winter ascent of Kangchenjunga (Macmillan, 1987). Generous donations were also received from family, friends, and sponsor organizations sympathetic to the plight of the rural poor in Nepal.

A promise fulfilled

This school and clinic were fulfilment of her promise. But not content with this success, Bremer-Kamp established KSP as a trust so that charitable work in the Kangchenjunga region could continue in perpetuity.

In 2001, Bremer-Kamp was awarded the prestigious UCSF Chancellor's Award for Public Service and the Thomas N. Burbridge Award in recognition of her work in founding Kangchenjunga School Project.