By Ram Khatry, Sydney
13 May 2017
The only Nepalese participant in this year’s 50 kilometre Ultra-Trail Australia race is a soldier who has made it his mission to fight for children’s future in his earthquake-devastated native village. The 32-year-old ultra runner, who finished third in the North Pole Marathon only weeks ago, is a “hero” to his folks in Ramechhap district of Nepal as he puts his heart and soul in the reconstruction of his village.
Samir Tamang, a serving member of Nepal Army, is so hell-bent on rebuilding Priti village that he has already spent 1.5 million rupees that he says was the earning from his secondment to UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
In a telephone conversation with southasia.com.au, Mr Tamang recalled the fateful day in April 2015 when the 7.8 magnitude mega earthquake laid waste to his village and he found himself to be the only able-bodied man to rescue the injured women, children and elderly. He was left heartbroken by the scenes of utter devastation. Ever since, he has devoted his time to rebuilding two local schools (one completed while the other is under construction) as well as homes for two disabled single mothers. He handed over the completed school in 2016.
Mr Tamang says his western friends helped him with the necessary funds but the second project, a 9-room building for Priti Namuna Lahare Maane Adharbhut Vidyalaya, is under serious funding constraints due to an unforeseen life events in the life of the main funder. “I already signed a contract with the school (management). So now I must complete the project, that’s why I put my own money too, what can I do!?,” the soldier said speaking from the Blue Mountains. His journey to Australia to participate in the Utra-Trail Australia event was sponsored by Som Tamang, a Brisbane-based man who runs a number of philanthropic projects in his village in the same district.
Mr Tamang arrived in Australia two days ago and is being hosted by an Australian family in the Blue Mountains region. He has been practicing in the national park and expects to run a 40 kilometre practice session tomorrow. Given his record of 4 hours and 31 minutes at the North Pole Marathon, he is expected to perform well in the UTA race next weekend.
This is not the first time that he will be competing in Australia. In 2015, he had arrived with trail-running sensation Mira Rai. He completed 4th back then. However, he competed under terrible conditions at the time. He arrived only six hours before the competition due to visa complications, he told southasia.com.au. “I arrived at 12 am and went to run at 6 o’clock the same morning,” he said speaking in Nepali. He is aware of past UTA records and is hopeful of a good outcome on the morning of May 22.
Anyone wishing to help Samir Tamang realise his dream of building his local school, which also includes 7 kilometre-long road, can do so by contributing through his mycause.com.au fund-raising page. The funds would go to the school project through Friends of Himalayan Nepal charity.
By Saturday, $5373 had been collected through only 19 donations including a generous contribution of $2000 by one Natalia Scott.