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Hillary's legacy in Nepal celebrated

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/05/2016

From the 1960s onwards, Sir Edmund funded and built schools, health clinics and hospitals to improve the social welfare of the Himalayan people. © Press Association From the 1960s onwards, Sir Edmund funded and built schools, health clinics and hospitals to improve the social welfare of the Himalayan people. Doctors and nurses are gathering at a small stone hospital nestled on the edge of a Himalayan mountain that's been providing healthcare for five decades since New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary built it.

The event on Saturday in the village of Kunde marks the setting up of the first hospital in the Everest region of Nepal 50 years ago.

It's being held on the eve of the anniversary of the conquering of Everest by Sir Edmund and Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953.

"The opening of the Kunde hospital in 1966 was a very proud moment for Ed and the many New Zealanders who worked so hard to make it happen," says his daughter Sarah Hillary.

From the 1960s onwards, Sir Edmund funded and built schools, health clinics and hospitals to improve the social welfare of the Himalayan people.

Many of the New Zealanders taking part in the celebrations are former volunteer doctors who helped run the remote hospital with the support of Nepali staff.

"It was a life-changing experience for the Kiwi doctors who worked at the hospital," said Christchurch resident Lynley Cook, a volunteer doctor from 1991 to 1993.

"It was a privilege to be able to help provide health services to this community as well as visitors to the region. Though it was some of the most challenging work I have ever done, it was deeply rewarding," she said.

For the past 14 years, the Kunde hospital has been fully staffed by Nepali medical professionals. Dr Kami Temba became the first local doctor to take over the full management of the hospital.

Since 1976, the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada has managed the funding of the hospital, while the New Zealand-based Himalayan Trust continues to support other health initiatives in the mountain district.

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