With an agreement made to build a school for Khumjung, Sir Ed then had to find a teacher, a building and the necessary funds to run the school. A trip to America with Sherpa Konjok Chumbi and the ‘yeti scalp’ proved very fruitful. Field Enterprises put forward enough money to pay a teacher’s salary and building materials. Next came The Indian Aluminium Company, who donated a pre-fabricated two-room building. In another beneficial relationship, Sir Ed organised the construction of an airport in Mingbo, above Pheriche, for the International Committee of the Red Cross to fly aid in to the Tibetan refugees. In return they flew all the school building materials to the airstrip. From there, all the building materials were carried on the backs of Sherpa people to the village of Khumjung 10 km away. A friend’s contacts found a suitable teacher in Darjeeling.
Sir Edmund Hillary arrived in Khumjung still recovering from altitude sickness brought on during a failed attempt at summiting Makalu. He had a team of willing helpers with him, and along with the local people they were able to assemble the school building in six frantic days’ work.
It was thus, on 11 June 1961, that in a steady monsoon rain Sir Ed cut the ribbon across the door and the Head Lama from Tengboche blessed the classrooms and a long queue of Sherpas. The school was first opened with two classrooms holding 47 children from Khumjung, Khunde and Namche. The first teacher and headmaster, Mr Tem Dorji Sherpa, went on to lead the school for nine productive years. The first prefabricated aluminium classroom building is still shining amongst the other schoolhouses today.