Sisters reaches out to support Nepal


Last updated 9/19/2023 at 9:55am

Photo provided

Sisters students (Molly Greaney, Hadley Schar, Izzy Schiller) attended the latest humanitarian trip to Nepal.

Over 18 years ago, Sisters teachers Rand Runco and Mark LaMont started the non-profit Ten Friends as a hopeful experiment. What began as trips to a distant land, led by Sisters business owner Nurbu Sherpa, has matured into an organization making a difference for Nepalese people who lack basic necessities and a chance for a better life. Access to clean drinking water, education, and books are just a few of the things Ten Friends has brought to both remote villages and orphanages in the city.

Another local initiative called Elevate Nepal, started by Pema and Nurbu Sherpa, owners of High Camp Taphouse in Sisters, has been serving young families located in the village of Tilahe. Elevate Nepal provides financial support for children in the isolated village to attend school as well as providing sorely needed vocational training for young mothers so they can be self-sufficient. Recently, Elevate Nepal and Ten Friends joined together to make a wider impact for Nepali people.

Funding the work being done in Nepal requires the generosity of individuals and foundations. Ten Friends/Elevate Nepal is kicking off its first Friendship Drive in hopes of gaining annual donors who will provide money to fund their initiatives. The Summit Level Friend is $120 per year. People can join at the Ten Friends web page:

Board Treasurer Jim Lazarotta said the Friendship Drive will go through November.

"Deschutes Brewery has agreed to cosponsor an event on October 5, intended to celebrate the Friendship Drive and Ten Friends-Elevate Nepal merger by providing beverages and use of its Mountain Room. High Camp Taphouse is providing appetizers, which should make for a fun evening," said Lazarotta.

The event will be an opportunity for Ten Friends to provide updates on all its initiatives and for friends to gather and celebrate together.

Efforts to reach and serve those in need has included the opportunity for Central Oregon students and adults to travel to Nepal and trek into remote villages to provide books for libraries and supplies for the Himalayan Education Center, which was started by Ten Friends.

More than 60 students from Sisters High School and Bend have embarked on an adventure to a bustling city with customs and people very different from themselves. They trekked into remote regions, to villages lacking basic necessities but often retaining a sense of joy. The chance to experience different cultures had a huge, positive impact on students who've made the journey.

Just back from a Ten Friends/Elevate Nepal trip, Sisters High School senior Molly Greaney explained why she decided to go.

"I heard about the trip from my teachers, Mark and Runco," Greaney said. "I didn't know much about the nonprofit at first, but I learned why the values of their mission are extremely important. I have a passion for travel and learning about different cultures, as well as women's education and equality, so the whole purpose behind the trip lined up well with the things I care about."

Greaney said it was difficult seeing so many people in poverty, especially young children who lacked enough food to eat and money to attend school.

The lessons Greaney learned are felt by everyone who joins a Ten Friends/Elevate Nepal trip.

"Although Ten Friends/Elevate Nepal does a lot to help people in Nepal, I think we all actually gained more than we gave. I learned so much about the value we place on money and material things, and how that compares to people in much poorer parts of the world. When you get away from that, you realize that access to things like health care, education, and food are truly most important," said Greaney.

LaMont also went on the recent trip to Nepal, visiting the village of Tilahi in southern Nepal. He explained that Tilahi is a Musahar caste village where people are not allowed to own land and speak a separate language from Nepali. With assistance from Elevate Nepal and now Ten Friends, Pema and Nurbu Sherpa have been able to make positive changes in the lives of people who have been discriminated against as untouchables. LaMont said the remote location of the seven-acre village and the lack of government assistance, advocacy, and outside support meant people were uneducated and mainly subsistence farmers or day laborers.

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Sisters support helps women find viable career options.

"The Musahar have not been allowed to demonstrate their true potential. Their pride, possibilities, and opportunities are compromised by history and by other people. Long-term assistance with education, advocacy, and viable career options will provide hope and some real solutions with time. The largest benefit to input ratio would come with a focus on empowering and educating Musahar girls/women, who are even more trapped by the cultural situation and traditions," said LaMont.

The Ten Friends team invite everyone to make a donation and attend the Friendship Drive on October 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Deschutes Brewery Mountain Room. To learn more about Ten Friends and Elevate Nepal and to register for the upcoming event visit:


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