Glen Young met Karma Geljen Sherpa in Kathmandu in 2008 while leading study abroad programs in Asia. Karma had worked as a guide on dozens of high elevation peaks in Nepal, including Everest, while Glen had worked as an alpine guide in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. The two bonded quickly .
During the next three years Glen returned to Nepal with his friend Bonom Bohanec to trek and climb with Karma in the Himalayas. After climbing Mt. AmaDablam with Karma in 2011, Glen visited Karma’s village of Sibuje in the Eastern Everest Region (Solukhumbu). Karma introduced Glen to his family and neighbors, and tried to help Glen understand what life is like for local people. While there, Glen was both excited and saddened by what he saw. Without a medical clinic, villagers die from basic medical problems. Without a school, villagers don’t have the skills or language training necessary to find work outside of the village. This is increasingly problematic as wood supplies grow scarce and crops have unpredictable yields. However, Glen was also impressed by the hospitality, incredible work ethic, and happy demeanor of the people. This place explained so much about who Karma was as a person.
At the end of the stay in the village, Karma asked if Glen could help. At first Karma was hopeful that Glen would be able to fund-raise to construct a micro-hydro project using a small stream in the village. After discussing the possibilities, Karma and Glen realized there was a more immediate solution that didn’t require so many resources.
Tourism was already providing employment to a handful of villagers. Those families who had income from tourism were able to send their children to a distant school, pay for transport of family members to Kathmandu for medical problems, and purchase clothing and shoes for their children. Karma and Glen had been working in tourism for many years, and both understood the industry. A locally-owned tourism company that could offer training and employment to the people of Sibuje seemed like an obvious solution. Thus, the Karma Project was born.