Sunday, January 14, 2007

Is Anyone Game?


 As we enter into Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, I thought it would be a grand time to catch you all up on news about the Himalayan Project.  It has been a very productive AND instructive year for me beginning with the 3 months that I spent in Nepal last spring.  I witnessed the incredible “abdication” of King Gyanendra after centuries of rule by a monarch with the replacement of a Seven Party Alliance hoping to establish a Parliament with elected representatives from throughout the country.  This is an enormous undertaking for a little kingdom that has never allowed its disenfranchised to have a voice!  One can only pray that they have the courage and vision to move forward…

 The Himalayan Project has been growing and developing in a very organic way these past 3 years.  We have completed our initial building projects with great thanks to all of you….a school hall to house the entire student body of 300 under one roof, a library replete with Tibetan, Nepali and English books, a residance for visiting Lamas and a scholarship fund for village children whose parents cannot afford the $10 per month that it costs to educate a child.  Congratulations to all of you for your generosity towards making this happen!  Now we seem to be moving into another phase.  As I continue to return to Nepal and the Everest villages I have become very aware of the fact that many  indigenous traditions of the Sherpa culture are disappearing as the western model breaks into and permeates this ancient world…….an oral language fades out, traditional folk dances and songs of this Buddhist culture are replaced with either Hindi or Western alternatives and many young people can only see opportunity in Kathmandu.

 As “our” school in Chaurikharka grows stronger in both the programs that it offers and an expanding physical facility I have found myself “brainstorming” about the next step.  My dream is to handpick several young women who have graduated from this school, offer them a college education in Kathmandu to obtain a teaching degree and then be prepared to provide a salary commensurate with anything offered in Kathmandu as they return to their Sherpa villages to set up programs that will methodically pass on their own traditions.  The girls seem to be my focal point for a pilot program right now  as women in these mountain communities provide stability and backbone in farming and raising their families while the men leave to trek or go elsewhere in the world to find work.  My plan is to try and raise $1,000,000 for an endowment that will generate a yearly income to cover tuitions, salaries, school supplies and ongoing building projects.

 Is anyone game????  Look at what’s been generated and completed by all of you so far!  I may be the person on the ground but nothing could have been done without your incredible support these last 3 years.  If anyone is ever game to visit please don’t hesitate to contact me as I return to Nepal usually in the spring of every year.   I’m even now in the process of organizing a medical trip with a team of surgeons to go into a remote area up on the Tibetan plateau and set up M*A*S*H like tents to perform operations on people that will never, ever have access to any medical attention.  It’s a daunting process but your support could make this happen too.  The year of the Fire Pig is almost here and with burning determination from us all we can dream and move forward!

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