Image for Rebuilding lives after the Nepal earthquake

*Pic: Singhakali Lower Secondary School in northern Nepal. Photo: Richard I’Anson

At a dawn service near Everest, a group of Australians narrowly escaped with their lives when last year’s earthquake struck. They’re now invoking the Anzac spirit to help the Nepalese rebuild schools and homes.

Snow was falling at Thukla Pass in Nepal as The Last Post was being played. By the end of the ceremony, on April 25 last year, the sepia-toned photographs of those who had died in Gallipoli and other campaigns, placed among the mountain stones, were dusted with crystals of ice.

For Neill Johanson, nothing could be more symbolic of the spirit and sacrifices of the Anzacs than commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing with a dawn service at the 4830-metre-high pass. Accompanying him were a dozen Australians – a mix of veterans and the descendants of soldiers. Some wore service medals pinned to their down jackets, others read out letters and poems.

At a spot the group dubbed Anzac Hill, they unfurled Australian, Turkish and RSL flags and posed for photographs. Adding to the poignancy of the moment were the dozens of other memorials, or chortens, scattered across the pass – each one commemorating a climber or Nepalese porter who had died while scaling the world’s ultimate peak.

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