Published on 17th October 2013
Two New Zealand organisations with strong links to Sir Edmund Hillary are celebrating a new chapter in their 50-year friendship at next week’s premiere of Beyond the Edge, a documentary about Sir Ed’s journey to the summit of Mt Everest.
VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad) and the Himalayan Trust have teamed up to sell tickets to the event being hosted by the New Zealand Film Commission at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre on Tuesday October 22.
The money they raise will be used to help fund a new partnership between the two organisations which will see VSA/Himalayan Trust volunteers working as teacher trainers in two schools in the Everest area, both of which were founded by Sir Ed.
VSA and the Himalayan Trust worked closely together during the 1960s and 70s, sending volunteers to Nepal to work in hospitals set up by the Trust, which was established by Sir Ed in 1963. Sir Ed was also the first president of VSA, a role he held from 1963 to 1976.
Among the early VSA/Himalayan Trust volunteers was Christchurch doctor Richard Evans, who worked at Khunde Hospital in 1968 and 1969. In an interview for VSA’s 50th anniversary last year, he recalled that one of the first things he did when he arrived at the hospital was a below-the-knee amputation on an eight-year-old girl.
“When it had healed her father took her to Kathmandu to get an artificial leg – he had to piggy-back her to the airport at Lukla, which was a long day's walk down valley,” he said. “When she came back all her classmates thought she had grown a new leg."
According to Prue Smith, general manager of the Himalayan Trust, a main focus of the Trust’s work is education. The latest VSA/Himalayan Trust volunteers will help local teachers consolidate their skills working as English-medium teachers. The new assignments will be advertised soon.
VSA’s chief executive Gill Greer says she is delighted at the new turn VSA’s relationship with the Himalayan Trust has taken.
"Sir Ed helped shape VSA into an organisation that is firmly based on the notion of partnership. Our partnership with the Himalayan Trust is very long-standing, and I think Sir Ed would be proud to see us working together again after all this time.”