Natalie Dupille, Westside School pre-kindergarten Instructional Assitant, was awarded Washingtonian of the Day by Governor Inslee on March 2, 2016 for her activist work with education and disaster relief efforts in Nepal. Since taking office, Governor Inslee has awarded this informal honor to about 80 people “who have inspired him.”
A year ago, Natalie was working and traveling in Nepal when the earthquakes hit and began working with Dawa Geljen Sherpa, who spoke to Westside School Middle School students and faculty in December. He used his career as a mountain guide to launch his dream of building schools in the small villages of the region he is from, the Solo Khumbu.
Many of the schools he has built or worked with sustained significant damage in the earthquakes. Upon returning home from Nepal, Natalie felt compelled to help Dawa rebuild and achieve his goals in whatever ways she could, and partnered up with Katie Rose Fischer-Price, a close friend of hers and daughter of the late West Seattle based climber Scott Fischer. Ed Viesturs joined them, and they held a fundraiser on March 2 that expanded into something none of them could have foreseen. Together, they raised almost $150,000 to help rebulid Dawa’s latest project – the Himalayan English Boarding School (HEBS), a new model for international educational development and cultural conservation.
It is important to Natalie in her activism to stay true to the knowledge and needs of locals, and to support community Nepali driven efforts rather than larger, Western nonprofits whose aid is often misappropriated. Natalie is still working to assist Dawa and contribute to SherpaCares and the HEBS.
If you are interested in learning more about this work or upcoming events, please visit www.sherpacares.org/seattle.