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Monday, November 14, 2005

Gratitude musings

 

 As I sit down to write this letter right before Thanksgiving is upon us I am particularly moved to pause and not only acknowledge the many blessings in my own life but also to extend SUCH GRATITUDE to all of you who have made it possible for the Himalayan Project to move forward in the last 18 months.  Without your incredible outpouring of love and support our initial dreams and goals would have probably died on the vine!  Instead we have been able to complete the first phase of the project, inspite of great drama!  The school hall/community center was finally finished after 10 ½ months of having plan after plan for transporting building materials from Kathmandu foiled by the Maoist insurgents.  Twice the rebar poles and roofing materials were trucked to the end of the road, about 90 kilometers from Kathmandu, and coordinated to meet helicopters that would fly everything to the airstrip in Lukla, then be manually carried to Chaurikharka.  Each time the insurgents were informed and lurking to blow up the helicopters.  Finally on the third try the mission was successful!  Meanwhile, up in Chaurikharka the villagers were hauling rocks and boulders from the riverbed below to hand chisel the cobble stones which were to become the building blocks for the project.  Once all of the building materials were finally on site it only took about 3 weeks to complete the construction..  Also as part of the initial phase of the Himalayan project we have funded a library in Tibetan, Nepali and English books, have set up a small scholarship fund for local children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school for $1-$2 a month and finally, built a residence for visiting Lamas and Rinpoches (Buddhist spiritual teachers and priests)  when they are called upon to perform weddings, funerals and local ceremonies. 

 As I traveled back and forth to Nepal to keep track of the building progress I was always royally feted and entertained by the school children in Chaurikharka.  I watched them earnestly performing Nepali folk dances and songs.  What became glaringly apparent was the fact that since Nepal is 80% Hindu the native traditions that are being passed on from generation to generation are all Hindu based and there seems to be an apparent disconnect in  recognizing the value of this traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture.  Sooooooooo,  my dialogue continued with the Headmaster and his “School Board” and I have ratcheted up the Project to the next level of hopefully providing the means for this Everest Region school in Chaurikharka to become a model for the preservation of the Sherpa culture, methodically passing along to the next generation the song, dance, storytelling, language and cultural heritage of this vibrant and ancient culture.  My dream is to be able to raise enough funds to provide an endowment for this program that can then rely on a yearly income to educate young Sherpa women to become teachers who will commit to return to the Everest Region and receive salaries that are commensurate with Kathmandu incomes for similar teaching positions.





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