The April 2015 Earthquake destroyed many things and it’s hard to know what to prioritize and what to do next – the process will most certainly take many years, involve many people and require lots of different support. A contribution that Helambu Project is hoping to facilitate lies around helping restore and reconstruct a part of the region’s amazing cultural history – namely the traditional meditation retreat centre of Drupra Drong. The reconstruction of Drupa Drong is something we believe equally important in rebuilding the homes, schools, livelihoods, and lives of the people of Helambu. It’s not something that you need to be Buddhist to support – you merely have to think about human values and traditions. The world at large and Helambu have been undergoing rapid series of changes within the past years and the earthquake is but one event in the area’s changing landscape. For better or worse, many things have been, are, and will being changed, forgotten, lost, and remade. What we need to consider for our own lives and in the lives of others things we want to nourish, grow and keep. We need to consider whether regardless of our own opinions if we think the world is a better, more rich place with traditions of compassion, introspection, and intention – all of which in many ways represent what Drupa Drong represent for us as human beings even while being rooted in a specific place, practice, and set of teachings.
How to donate
For anyone interested and able to donate, please donate through this link (will take you to another website). Only 5% of the donated amount will be deducted by our fiscal sponsor to arrange the payments, the rest of the money we raise will go directly to Meme Ngawang, the retreat Master of Drupa Drong, and be used on various reconstruction projects related to Drupa Drong, including constructing new retreat houses, religious spaces, and other basic facilities.
If you are in Nepal and would like to donate or if you would like more information about Drupa Drong or the project, please feel free to email email@example.com
For more information on Helambu Project Donations please visit here.
More about Drupa Drong
If the video or what is above has made you at least slightly more interested in the place, the tradition or the people, then good! Drupadrong is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist retreat centre located just above the village of Tarkhegyang in Helambu – a region just 80 km North East of Kathmandu. Yolmo, the local name of Helambu region, is believed to be a scared valley where Buddhist boddhisattvas such as Milarepa and Guru Rinpoche are believed to have visited, blessed, and practiced in. Today, Buddhist practitioners travel from different parts of the Himalayas to conduct meditation retreats for multiple years, continuing a tradition of introspection that is now several millennias old and originated with the historical Buddha. Retreatants live very simple lives in the mountain and live off less than 30 USD a month and keep to rigorous schedules – meditating around XX hours a day, rising at 3am and finishing well into the night. This particular centre is of the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism, the most wide-spread form of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal, and is home to many accomplished practitioners – hence the name “Village of Accomplishment,” or Drupa Drong.
As you undoubtedly know, Nepal has been hit by two major earthquakes (and hundreds of aftershocks – some quite big) in recent weeks. The first earthquake hit with its epicenter at Gorkha (northwest of Kathmand)u on April 25th, the second with an epicenter at Dolakha (northeast of Kathmandu) on May 12th. The Helambu region lies in between the two and was deeply affected by both. Nationwide, over 8,000 have lost their lives, tens of thousands have lost their homes and millions are affected.
Helambu too has been badly affected. Many villages, like Gangkharka where Helambu Project has had a long presence, are completely destroyed. Thousands of homes and schools have collapsed, taking school books, household goods, and personal objects with them. Access to villages has been difficult due to landslides; the monsoons will begin in a few weeks, turning the landslides into mudslides and making life more difficult. The most immediate needs remain food and shelter. Reconstruction will come next. Concerns are growing about increased violence against women too, an issue Helambu Project is investigating addressing.
Helambu Project Nepal-based staff remain tirelessly involved in relief efforts. We’ve teamed up with local partner Helambu Education and Livelihood Partnership (HELP) who have a deep and long presence and involvement in education in the region. Helambu Project is helping with funding, administration and logistics. We’ve assisted HELP in procuring books for students of Manikanteshwori School in Kul (USD $1,000), blankets for 853 households in Bhotenamlang VDC (USD $8,530), and materials and labor to supply drinking water to Ichowk School (USD $750). As you can see, a little funding truly goes a long way.
In the UK, Dr. Mike Steven and Matt Dodds are fundraising to help this all happen. Both Mike and Matt are very grateful for the various personal donations made to them and from fundraising efforts from previous UK based Helambu Project volunteers. A recent Malaysian banquet night organised by Bernadette Bouchet also helped raised over £500 and on May 26th, Dr. Mike will speak to Banchory Academy students who are fundraising by selling copies of their class novels.
In the medium to long term or focus will be on reestablishing the schools throughout Helambu. As all of the HP team work on a voluntary basis, any donations will continue to go directly to local communities. You can contribute from anywhere by donating on our website. Due to the low cost of local supplies, truly any amount makes a difference. Even $5 will buy a blanket for a family who may have lost everything. With the immediacy of the earthquake behind us, Nepal is starting to fade from the news cycle. But the damage is far from recovered and the needs remain immense. We hope you’ll help us work together with Helambu residents to get back to the business of regular life.
As most of you likely know by now, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. As of now, the death toll is nearing 7,000 with many more injured and millions affected. Helambu, which lies in Sindhupalchok district, has been significantly affected by the earthquake and many villages have lost a large proportion of homes. It is still difficult to know the exact extent of damage in these areas as communication remains limited.
Helambu Project staff are all safe and are now mobilizing to coordinate relief efforts in the region. Helambu Project is currently collaborating with HELP (Helambu Education and Livelihood Partnership), who have been on the ground in the area, coordinating rescue and relief.
We appreciate everyone’s concern and will update about our progress with relief efforts as regularly as we can. Nepal, Helambu, and the villages we work in face a long road to recovery ahead. The earthquake has severely affected many lives, but many hands are now committed to building back together. We appreciate your support as we embark on this journey with them.
Last October Helambu Project’s Matt visited Nepal with a group of his friends. After visiting Everest Base Camp, some of the group went to Helambu and spent time at Nurbuling school, where the Himalayan Olympics, organized by HELP Nepal and supported by Helambu Project, where held.
Stewart who was one of the group did some fundraising at his local pub, workplace, friends and family by getting them to sign the flags we took to Nepal, and they left the Union Jack and the Saltire at Nurbuling school. Stewart took the Lion Rampant back home, the funds raised are being split between Helambu Project and Arrochar Mountain Rescue.
There has also been fundraising in Galston – selling tablet and car boot sales. Then next event in Galston is a “Ladies Night” to be held at Galston Bowling Club on Feb 8th, 2015, all tickets have been sold!
Thank you to all our wonderful supporters. Please see the photos from the trip below.
This past month, Helambu Project’s very own Dr. Mike Steven along with Dr. Valerie Steven and nurses Pearl Wight and Meg Antell conducted a health camp in three different villages in Helambu. The health camp began in Kakani, where the team saw over 160 individuals in just five hours of consultations. Patients came from around the region, some walking over three hours to be seen by the doctors. The group then trekked to nearby village Baruwa in the afternoon to run a second clinic the next day, where they treated over 150 patients – including two centenarians! They treated a range of issues from eye problems, to joint pain, to gastrointestinal issues. After a grueling uphill hike to Sermanthang (a special thank you to our wonderful porters for carrying the medicine), we enjoyed a big meal of rice and lentils and prepared for the third and final day of the health camp, where around 100 people from surrounding areas came for consultations. On the final day, the team took some time off to visit the local pilgrimage mountain of Ama Yangri!
The doctors and nurses were supported by an excellent team of local staff who served as translators and guides. Jamyong Thinley, from nearby Kakani, coordinated the health camp and couldn’t have done a better job making everything as easy as it could be. All in all, the doctors met with over 400 patients and identified some of the largest health problems of the region. In particular, many of the villagers, especially the elderly, were found to have curable and treatable eye conditions. To this end, Helambu Project is now raising funds and planning a follow up trip to make sure that the villages we visited also have access to basic eye-care and treatments.
We will be sure to keep everyone up to date when we begin our next project! In the meantime, check out some of these amazing photos from the health camp!
Helambu Project is excited to announce our new partnership with Manakamana Foundation. Like Helambu Project, Manakamana Foundation is an all-volunteer organization. They support young women seeking specific short degrees in many fields including; education, midwifery, and healthcare. Young women are selected with a range of criteria such as economic need, merit, and commitment to community service. Manakamana Foundation practices affirmative action by prioritizing Dalit communities and places with limited access to education for girls and women. The scholars are required to spend their first year working in their home communities. This year, their 23rd year of giving, Manakamana Foundation is funding the educations of fifty young women.
Helambu Project is honored to help fund such a venerable organization . Helambu Project donors make education happen for young Nepalis and we thank you for supporting good work in the Himalaya.
We ring out 2012 and welcome in 2013 with our first teacher training program. In cooperation with the Nepal Teacher Training Innovations and Pax Works, Helambu Project arranged and co-funded training for 30 teachers from all over Helambu. The training lasted two days and sought to address key issues in Nepal’s education system. The training focused on creating child-friendly learning environments, fostering creativity and critical thinking, gender sensitive classrooms, and interactive teaching methods. The training was well received by the teachers who had been requesting additional training since early last year.
Ursula Daniels, from PaxWorks, also attended the training. As part of Helambu Project’s ongoing work with women and girls in Helambu and Nepal, Ursula and Helambu Project’s program coordinator, Ola Perczynska, helped lead additional workshops in addition to the training and develop new project ideas for girls and teachers in the area. All in all it was a great finish to another year!
We are thrilled and proud to announce a new partnership. Her Turn – Girls Education and Empowerment Program with its partner organization Nepal Teacher Training Initiative will receive support from Dining for Women!
Dining for Women – Dining for Women – Changing the World One Dinner at a Time. Dining for Women is a non-profit giving circle dedicated to empowering women and girls living in extreme poverty. Please visit Dining for Women website to find out more about this amazing organization.
Thanks to this organization’s support to Her Turn, next year we will conduct the workshops for marginalized girls from rural government schools of Sindhupalchok district! We are thrilled and honored to have this opportunity!
Click here to read Her Turn advocacy piece published in English daily Republica. It addresses the subject of child marriage in Nepal. Excerpts:
Lack of access to education is not the only challenge the child brides encounter. They are also twice as likely to become victims of domestic and sexual violence, have no control over their reproductive rights and no power in their new households. Then there are emotional and health risks. Early sexual activity and pregnancy can lead to complications like obstetric fistula and urinary prolapse. Girls under fifteen are five times more likely to die in childbirth than are women in their twenties. It is also dangerous for their infants whose mortality rates are much higher when they are born to adolescent mothers. There is also the economic status. Girls who marry young are less likely to ever exit the cycle of poverty. Child marriage impacts boys as well, but because of socio-cultural factors and because it is girls who give birth, it affects them disproportionately.
We are happy to announce a new partnership we just started. We became a partner organization of Omprakash (www.omprakash.org). It is a web-based platform that connects grassroots health, education, and environmental projects around the world with volunteers, donors, and classrooms that can learn from and support their work. The network offers volunteer opportunities at over 150 grassroots social projects in more than 30 countries ranging from Ecuador to Kenya to India and beyond. Unlike most other databases of volunteer opportunities, Omprakash is completely free—no administrative fees whatsoever. Grants are available to help qualified volunteers defray travel expenses.
We are excited to welcome new volunteers from Omprakash network!