Borderers’ cash helps pay for roofing the top of the world

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The people of the Borders are being hailed as heroes by residents of a small, remote village situated high in the Himalayas.

When Ongdi Sherpa – a member of the famous clan which provides mountain guides for climbing Mount Everest – attended an aunt’s funeral anniversary in Nepal, a devastating earthquake shook the entire country, leaving many dead.

His family had been spared as they were attending the open-air service, but residents of their village of Dimbul were left virtually homeless, their homes lying in ruins.

Of the day of the earthquake, Ongdi, 38, told us: “That day was filled with unthinkable horror.

“People were screaming and being thrown from one side to the other.

“About six of us grabbed onto a big tree and were just trying to hold on.

“The tree was swaying and then a wall collapsed, killing four people right in front of me.”

As he returned to his new home in the Borders, Ongdi set about raising funds in order that he would be able to help those in need.

He raised money through collection tins in the Subway shop in Galashiels, where he worked at the time, and his story inspired members of the Selkirk and Hawick Rotary clubs, as well as his employer, and local church groups in Caddonfoot and Trinity in Galashiels to also raise cash.

He also hosted a curry night in Galashiels.

With his fundraising complete, he had more than £7,000, a total he describes as “amazing”.

Ongdi, now working in the Auld Cross Keys Inn in Denholm in its restaurant and as a bar manager, said: “I just wanted to raise enough money for corrugated roofs.

“The villagers all got together to rebuild, but the only roofing material they were able to use was bamboo, which only lasts two years at most.

“I wanted to bring them corrugated metal roofs, which would last 10 times as long.

“The aid workers did what they could, but they could not help the village of Dimbul.

“Iit takes 18 hours in a Jeep and a three-day walk to reach it.

“With the money raised by people in the Borders, I went back in November 2015 and distributed the roofs.

“I went back this year and it is all completed.

“It was quite magical When I saw their faces, they are all so happy.”

Ongdi, who lives in Clifton Road with wife Alison and daughter Tamzin, took photos of the villagers as they were very keen to thank the people who gave them shelter.

Ongdi told us: “Because of the people here in the Scottish Borders, the lives of people on the other side of the world have changed for the better.

“I can’t thank them enough.”