Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'Humanitarian entreprenuers' go to work for Nepal

Valley men collect items for Nepal hospital


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

There are many people in the Wood River Valley who can get a job done. But when it comes to rounding up medical supplies, part-time Sun Valley resident Reginald Reeves is the go-to man. He and local humanitarian entrepreneur Steve Wagner recently gathered up a load of supplies to be flown to Nepal this spring for the Kunde Hospital, built by Sir Edmund Hillary.

The connection was made through the so-called "super Sherpas," Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa and Apa Sherpa, the latter the world record holder for number of climbs—18 to date—on Mt. Everest. Climber Jerry Mika sponsored the Sherpas and their families to come live with him in Utah. Together, they now own and run SuperSherpas.com, along with the Karma Outdoor clothing and equipment store in East Millcreek, Utah.

He and his wife, Lila, became involved with the Sherpas after donating clothing and other items to the Himalayan Mountain Institute in Darjeeling, India, where young people at a 14,000-foot base camp were learning to climb in old raggedy clothes.

In August, Steve and Lila Wagner hosted Lhakpa and Apa and their families while they were in Sun Valley for several speaking functions.

"They are becoming lifelong friends," Wagner said.

Apa Sherpa's wife, Yangjin, is the niece of Dr. Kami Temba, senior medical officer and chief of medicine at Kunde Hospital.

"It was rewarding to get the equipment to Jerry Mika, who helped bring them to the states," Wagner said. "It was a perfect fit because Apa is taking the Eko Everest Team (intended to raise awareness of the effects of climate change on the Himalyasa) over on April 1. It will be his 19th Everest climb. The supplies will go over with the expedition's gear."

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It takes months of organizing to manage such a feat. Medical supplies must be found first. Fortunately Wagner read about Reeves in an Idaho Mountain Express story last year about Hailey Mayor Rick Davis' drive to collect and send supplies to a hospital in Vietnam.

For this donation, Reeves was able—through contacts at Idaho Falls-area hospitals—to come up with about $60,000 worth of supplies, said Reeves, who lives part-time in Idaho Falls and the other part in Sun Valley.

Lt. Col. Timothy L. Lake, of the U.S. Army National Guard and an old college friend of Reeves, also requested his help recently.

"He asked if I could get $300,000 worth of supplies for the U.S. Virgin Islands," Reeves said. "The Army took care of the cargo container. It was sent from Alabama to Idaho Falls to be filled and then back. Then the container was put on ship to Puerto Rico in time for hurricanes last fall."

Reeves also helped start a free dental clinic in Guatemala and each month he collects food for soup kitchens, clothing, items for a veterans' home in Pocatello and crisis centers in Rexburg and Pocatello.

Reeves also located a hyperbaric chamber for Wagner to send to Croatia for use in oxygen therapy, for strokes and other brain injuries. He is also seeking monetary donations to buy 33 computers for the Rikard Katalnic Jeretov Elementary School on the Istrain peninsula in Croatia. The school's three buildings are scattered on a hill, and the computers will help them network with each other. Donations to the school may be made through Wagner. Anyone interested can e-mail him at sunvalleyidaho@cox.net for more information.

For more information on the Sherpas, visit supersherpas.com.




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