It is our nature to be compassionate, but we must also act.
Tempa Dukte Lama
Due to its remoteness, the Humla District receives minimal support from the Nepali government. It has established schools in some of the villages, but the quality of the education is poor and the schools lack basic supplies of books, pencils and paper. Many government teachers are unwilling to teach in this poor and remote community, resulting in schools closing. The existing school buildings are in disrepair and lack running water and electricity.
The native Tibetan language is not included in the school curriculum. Since the education is not relevant to the Humli people’s culture, the school dropout rate is high and the children are at risk of losing their language, as well as their cultural identity. During the decade-long civil war (1996-2006), many of the Humli children left their families and villages and never returned, due to the lack of education and opportunities, which has further alienated children from their families, community and culture. Over 150 Bon children have left their homes, some as young as five years old, in order to receive a Bon education at Menri Monastery in India. This lost generation has greatly impacted the threat to the native culture surviving in Humla.
Humla Fund plans to develop a Bon cultural community center and school to provide a place for the practice of Bon teachings, festivals and rituals. The Bon Cultural Center will serve as the location for a school to teach the Tibetan language and general academic curriculum for grades 1-12.
This project will create the opportunity to provide consistent education for local children, improve literacy rates and help preserve the local culture, while keeping children with their families and native community.
His Holiness Lungtok Tenpa’i Nyima, the worldwide spiritual leader of the Bon tradition, has given his blessing and support for this project. He designed the official logo and provided the name Tharde Zhiwa’i Ritrod, which means, “a place for the practice of peace.” The logo was painted by renowned Nepali artist, Tenzin Norbu.
The logo depicts one blossoming flower with seven petals to represent the seven figurative gold and silver oceans that, according to Bon cosmology, cover the entire universe except for the sacred mountains of enlightenment. Out of this flower rise three buds, representing the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, or community.
Geshe Tsewang Ngodrup Lama and Geshe Dawa Sangpo Lama, both natives of Humla and geshe degree monks, have committed to undertaking the work of overseeing and implementing the school and cultural center, and will serve as the main teachers. Both left Humla at a very young age to receive an education and are accomplished scholars, having completed an eight year course of traditional studies at the Bon Dialectic School of Menri Monastery in India, where they received their geshe degree, equivalent to a doctorate in philosophy from western universities. Both have made it their life’s mission to give back to their community by strengthening the Bon teachings and culture for future generations in Humla.