THE STORY BEHIND
The Sherpa Bridge Project
Bridges to education and a better life in the Solukhumbu.
Photo: Director Andy Cockrum with Nima Dawa Sherpa's and his family
My name is Andy Cockrum. I’m the producer of the documentary feature film Sherpa Stew and a founder of The Sherpa Bridge Project.
I’ve spent the last few years documenting the lives of Sherpa mountaineers living in New York City. Featured in my film Sherpa Stew is two-time Mount Everest summiteer Nima Dawa Sherpa. Nima began working in the high Himalaya at the age of 6. From his home village of Sonam, it was several day’s walk to school. Because of the distance, and because he was poor, Nima Dawa missed out on an education. But he dreamed of one day building a school for his village.
Photo: Nima Dawa Sherpa in front of Sonam School
Fast-forward 30 years. After summiting Mt. Everest, Nima Dawa rallied other villagers to pitch in and build a school in Sonam. Today, a three-room school house sits atop a high mountain cliff overlooking the Solukhumbu.But Nima Dawa’s dreams didn’t stop there.
"I want to build a bridge so that children can go to school more safely.”
– Nima Dawa Sherpa
In 2014, my father, James L. Cockrum, and I founded The Sherpa Bridge Project with Nima Dawa. That year, we were able to fund and build a foot bridge in Sonam. With Nima Dawa overseeing the project, engineers designed the bridge in Kathmandu. It was welded in segments then loaded onto trucks for transfer to the closest accessible village. From there it was carried by porters seven days to Sonam, where it was assembled.
The design and construction of The Sonam Bridge
The Bridge at Salpa Chhyaksila
In early 2017 we were able to fundraise and build a second bridge in the nearby village of Salpa Chhyakshilla. That bridge was built of wood and metal, and additionally we were able to help fund five schools in the area, as well as provide solar panels and medicines to the Gudel hospital.
Today, villagers, school children, traders and porters from as far away as India use both bridges, many en route to the Mount Everest.