Nepali Times
Immortal memorial


The Agni Air Dornier had taken off during a torrential downpour from Kathmandu on the morning of 24 August. It was bound for Lukla with 14 passengers from Nepal, UK, USA and Japan, and of the three crew members one was my daughter Sarah Sherpa, the flight attendant. Fifteen minutes after takeoff, Capt L P B "Lucky" Shah and Co-pilot Sophia Singh decided to return to Kathmandu due to poor visibility enroute.

Soon after, the plane's primary and backup generator failed, then the standby battery ran out. It is thought that without power, the cockpit instruments must have malfunctioned disorienting the pilots in heavy clouds. The aircraft came down about 20 miles south of Kathmandu in the village of Shikharpur of Makwanpur district. There were no survivors.
My wife Anju and I have lived and relived the memory of that devastating morning, and as the first anniversary of the crash approaches next week we are once more numbed by the loss of our precious Sarah.

Shikharpur is a bumpy three hour jeep ride east of Hetauda populated by subsistence farmers. In the past year, we have visited Shikharpur and decided to turn our sorrow into support for the people of the little village. At their request we have built a stupa at 'ground zero', which is only 20 metres away from the school that is also being upgraded.

My wife and I have been amazed by the outpouring of support and goodwill from friends, relatives and even those we don't know. Howard Fallon, father of 18-year-old Kendra Fallon who was in the same flight, initiated the project and has also set up an endowment at Asna Orphanage in Lamatar where his daughter had volunteered for two months before setting off on her trek.

Misa Hayashi's only son, 19-year-old Yuki, also died in the crash. The Hayashi family is now an ardent supporter of the project, helping financially to build the school. Yuki's 78-year-old grandmother is coming to Shikharpur for the inauguration of the stupa and school next week. Our children left us, but we want to cherish their memory by helping the underprivileged children of the village they came to be joined with that fateful morning a year ago.

All of us lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends. We had raised Sarah with lots of love and affection, we invested all we could in her education. Now, she is only a memory. But it is a memory that we hope will live on in the hearts of the children of Shkharpur as they grow up.

We have also received help from many friends. Agni Air's Sudip Basnyat has offered to contribute for Shikharpur's education fund through a portion of every air ticket. We were hoping that the embassies of the nationals who died would chip in for the school expansion, but that hasn't materialised yet.

The new SKY building (named after Sarah, Kendra and Yuki, pictured left) is coming up and will have new spacious and bright classrooms. The stupa is complete, and the village is getting a drinking water supply.

No one is immortal, but we can contribute to the future by investing in children.We hope that the stupa will be around for a long time to come to remind us of those who left us.

Shikharpur Buddhist Monument and Bakiya Thakur School Committee +977 9851018820

See also:
Hotel Echo's last minutes, DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA
The last 26 minutes of Agni Air's 'Hotel Echo' (9N-AHE)

1. Govinda Nepal
Very apprecate your work in Makwanpur for the people of Sikharpure. Thank you for remembering us in spite of your loss.

2. Sherpa Observer
This is called turning Sorrows into Movements to empower poor and needy. This chorten will forever remain a friend to those parents who lost their precious children. I remember a story of one of my good friends. When his father (a monk) was in his bed just a few days before his death he said "son when I die build a stupa in my name next to the house and when you need me come to the stupa." 
I pray that from this school building, many more bright and cheerful person like Sara will be produced. May you all be reborn soon into a humanely world. God bless you!

3. Dorji Tsering Sherpa
Dear Govinda & Sherpa observer,  Thank you for your nice comments. The love of our children who passed away so untimely made us determined to do something beyond our imagination. Now the Stupa is standing and so will the school building from where we expect to spread the teaching of Lord Buddha and give quality education to the children there. Greatly appreciate Mr. Kunda Dixit of Nepali Times for supporting our efforts by publishing this at the anniversary of our daughter's first year of passing away.

4. Hemant Arjyal
Sad that they are not around. But the tragedy created a situation for the families to come together and build something useful for the village. 
DT ji we all know that you have been the prime mover is this case and we all appreciate your effort in particular. 


5. Tashi Lama
Dear Dorji Tsering Sherpa, you have truly taken a very generous and good initiative in the memory of your loving daughter and others who lost their life on that fateful day. By building a stupa and opening a school for the needy children of this village would benefit these sons and daughters of poor parents, in reality all these kids are no less then your own children as per the Buddhist way of thinking all sentient beings as your mother in previous countless births we have taken, such acts of generosity is truly Buddhist practice.

With heartfelt prayers for all,

Tashi Lama

6. Dorji Tsering Sherpa
Dear Hemant and Tashi ji,

Thank you very much for your soothing words which are quite rare in the present world specifically in our society. It is totally a new experience for us helping others tirelessly. Now I understand why some give their whole life for social works. Our team intends to bring a good changes in the village by providing practical education for the children and sense of religion in the hearts of the elders there. Thank you again. Dorji

7. Sanjay Lama
this is a job well done. thank you.

8. Deepak Koirala
Well done Mr. Dorje Thering Sherpa.

9. Dorji Tsering Sherpa
Dear Sanjay and Deepak ji, I am happy that you like what we are doing down there in the village. It is a team work and a little initiative is all what was needed.We have just started a project and it will need lot more support to keep it in operation. Hope we will get that in the future. Thank you.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)