Compassion is the radicalism of our time.
- His Holinesss, The Dalai Lama
September 27 - October 7, 2018
With Tempa Dukte Lama, Heidi Harding, Timothy Aitken, and Geshe Tsewang Ngodup
This is a deeply personal and intimate pilgrimage to the heart of an ancient culture. The Humla Valley of Nepal is one of the most remote and sacred places on earth. Located on the border of Tibet, Humla is in the middle of a spectacular Himalayan mountain range; secluded from modern life, it remains home to the ancient spiritual and pre-Buddhist culture of Bon. You will be welcomed and embraced like family, as we have established roots and formed deep ties with the villagers and shamans. This year’s trip will be particularly joyful as we celebrate the consecration of the new Tibetan medical clinic that will be completed this summer. This accomplishment marks an evolution of our service work in Humla.
Since 2014, Humla Fund has pioneered bringing free Tibetan medicine and natural medicine as primary care to the Humla Valley. Previously, there had been little to no access to health care in the region. We responded to the need for sustained health care by purchasing land, building a Tibetan medical clinic, and employing a local doctor (amchi) to serve the community. We believe that traditional medicine is effective and sustainable for the environment and culture in Humla. This is why Humla Fund’s clinics and projects aim to strengthen the native healing traditions and exist side by side with them. Completing the Tibetan medical clinic is a monumental step towards achieving our goal of providing greater access to health care and preserving traditional healing practices that are at risk. Stewarding an intricate balance among people, land, food, medicine, environment and culture is central to our philosophy in the clinics. Come celebrate, be of service, and be part of this historic moment in Humla.
The Humla Medical Service trip offers medical volunteers an opportunity to share compassion and skill and to deliver holistic health care to villagers. Traditional forms of medicine like acupuncture and moxibustion are rooted in Himalayan medicine and are especially well-suited to serve this community of traditional people. The villagers are familiar with acupuncture and have a healing tradition of moxibustion in their culture. Our patients receptivity and trust of this kind of support allows treatment to be highly effective and beneficial. This medical aid fits this culture that values an intimate connection and balance with nature and understands hands-on medicine.
All practitioners and non-medical volunteers will be trained in the art of moxibustion during clinic orientation sessions in Kathmandu. Non-medical volunteers will work side by side with practitioners in the clinics to implement moxibustion treatments. Non-medical volunteers are essential to the success of the clinics and encouraged to join.
Shamanism is the main form of medicine in Humla. With respect for and commitment to preserving this wisdom healing tradition, Humla Fund is working to rebuild the temples and strengthen the native healing practices and festivals. Participants will have an opportunity to experience a shaman’s festival and rituals and receive blessings and prayers of the indigenous healers in a profound, cross-cultural experience that transcends ordinary reality.
The trip is also an opportunity to experience meaningful human exchange and to encounter the ancient wisdom traditions of the Bon culture. Tempa Lama and Geshe Tsewang, both Humla natives and Tibetan lamas, will support the group through teachings and meditation practices on compassion from the Bon spiritual teachings of wisdom and love. This is an opportunity for spiritual renewal and growth. Wisdom and compassion being shared human aspirations, these teachings support practitioners and volunteers of all beliefs. By deepening connection with our inner wisdom, we will have more compassion and inner strength for patients that we will be treating in the clinics.
This trip is joyful and rugged. Participants need to be in good physical shape. The trip is transformative and requires internal emotional strength as we work intensively in the clinics and travel outside of comfort zones.
Our Core Values
"When people choose to practice, integrate, and embody gratitude, the cumulative force that is generated can help create the kind of world we all hope for and desire for ourselves and for future generations." -Heidi Harding, Co-founder of Humla Fund
The Humla Medical Service Trip was created out of an impulse of gratitude. Gratitude is a quality of being thankful and returning its kindness to others. Every language in the world has a way of saying "thank you." This is because gratitude is an inherent quality that resides in each human being and crosses all boundaries. The inspiration for this service trip comes from deep appreciation and gratitude for the culture and spiritual traditions that are rooted in the upper Humla Valley of Nepal. This trip is a profound exchange of giving and receiving kindness, and bearing witness to our shared humanity.
Bearing Witness As Authentic Service
We value compassion and witnessing, first, and helping, second. Volunteers rarely arrive in-country with tools to genuinely ‘help’ another community, and we work hard to dispel such expectations and myths leftover from the imprint of colonial and missionary expeditions. Volunteers use contemplative practices and empathy to witness, listen, assess, act and then evaluate, a framework that can be applied to all truly compassionate encounters. When we work in the clinic, we aim to keep our cultural footprint light and widen our views of healing and caring for others. Additionally, we don’t measure our success by the number of service hours logged or medical treatments performed, but rather by the number of hearts that open to greater understanding and respect for our shared humanity and the transformations that such an engagement provokes. In essence, we aim to be of authentic service from a place of deep inner awareness, connecting with a sense of collective purpose.
- Celebrate the consecration of the new Tibetan medical clinic with the villagers.
- Learn basic cosmology of Tibetan Medicine from a local Tibetan doctor (amchi).
- Be of service by delivering holistic health care to hundreds of villagers.
- Experience the breathtaking terrain of the Himalayan mountains and witness one of the last places on earth where the natural environment is untouched, a place where traditional people live in harmony with nature.
- Learn ancient Bon meditation and healing practices.
- Experience the blessings, prayers, and rituals of the indigenous shamans.
- Continue the larger effort to protect this Tibetan indigenous culture, which is currently at risk of being lost.
What Our Trip Volunteers Are Saying
"This was one of the best experiences of my life. It was full to the brim of adventure, community, and culture. The space that the monks created for self reflection and growth along with building an incredible group environment was awesome." -Louis G.
"Volunteering your services in Humla means centering yourself enough to be present in the face of true need. This humbling experience was one of the greatest 'treatments' I could ever hope to receive. Working with the Humla Fund in Nepal will forever remain one of the most cherished experiences of my life." -Adam Cantor
"I went with a sense of new adventure, and a yearning to learn and contribute. The inspiration I brought home was shaped by global friendships and the trust and respect that permeated every interaction. That peace now lives in my heart." -Jan McCracken
"The Humla trip opened my heart wider than I've ever experienced before in my life. I felt a boundless joy with more love and gratitude for everyone in my life, the villagers... even those I don't know." - Richard Cross
"Humla changed something big inside me. What I value has changed; so has my definition of generosity and happiness." -Lillian H. Rieder
"This was the most positively influential experience of my life. I chose this program because of my interest in Buddhism. I wanted to experience the sacred in all its forms, and directly connect with a spiritual culture that was still intact. " - Gloria Merchant.
"One of the countless stunning moments on this trip was when I was sitting on a rock on a mountainside. It was near sunset and the pinkish orange light of the setting sun began to creep across the massive peaks of the Himalayas. I sat there, watching the sun dip down below the cloud layer, and was struck by the silence. No sound whatsoever penetrated that beautiful serene mountain air. It was almost like the world had frozen briefly. Stuck in that dusky state between day and night. The giant peaks only adding to the splendor, putting the size of humanity in its place yet again." - William Smith
Limited to 20 PAX
Trip Cost USD $4,300.
Prices are per person, double occupancy.
For a single room and tent, add USD $500.
Deposit USD $500, non-refundable, is required to reserve your space.
Balance USD $3,800 is due by July 1, 2018. The total cost of the trip is non-refundable after July 1, 2018. Payment after July 1, 2018 will be subject to a $150 late fee and you may forfeit your space on the trip.
A valid credit card is necessary to cover all trip incidentals.
To pay by credit card, please contact the office 917-703-0989. (3% will be added for credit card payments)
PLEASE NOTE: We require that you purchase travel insurance, medical insurance, and emergency evacuation coverage in order to participate on this program. It is the responsibility of each participant to ensure that they are adequately covered by insurance while traveling in Nepal.
We recommend that all participants consider buying trip-cancellation insurance.
Included In Price:
Hotels and tents (all double occupancy), all meals except lunch in Bhaktapur, in-country transportation and all domestic round trip flights to Nepalgunj and Simikot, full camping services and trekking staff, all camping supplies except sleeping bags.
International airfare, Nepal Visa fees, surcharge for single occupancy hotel rooms/tent, items of a personal nature, tips for trek staff and medical translators, alcohol, specialty coffee drinks like espresso, cappuccinos and lattes, sleeping bag, emergency evacuation, loss or damage of baggage, excess weight for baggage, extra days. If you choose to arrive in Kathmandu early or stay later, please take care of your bills directly with the hotel. Humla Fund will not be responsible for any bills outside of the trip itself.
A Few Words About Trip Tuition
The tuition rate does not cover the actual cost of the Humla Medical Service Trip. We rely on fundraising efforts to bridge the gap between tuition revenue and operating costs for the trip. We employ over 50 local people as medical translators, cooks, sherpas and trekking guides for our program. We give financial contributions to each of the villages we visit to support the native culture. In the past, participants have reached out to their communities to help support making our medical clinics possible. Some of our volunteers also find sponsors to cover their participation on the trip. We are truly a grass roots organization and rely on everyone’s support to make our vision in Humla possible. Thank you for your generosity!
Our Trip Leaders
Tempa Dukte Lama is the Co-founder and Vice President of Humla Fund. He is an ordained Tibetan Bon lama. Tempa Lama was born in the Humla Valley of Nepal, close to the Tibetan Border, into a family of Bon and Buddhist practitioners. His grandfather was a village shaman priest. Tempa Lama lived closely with his grandfather and often accompanied him on visits to sick and dying people. At the age of six, Tempa Lama entered Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, where he was placed under the care of H.H. Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche, the spiritual head of the Bon tradition. Tempa Lama was the first child to leave Humla to receive an education. In 1998, Tempa Lama followed his deep interest in traditional healing practices and spent a year in Humla researching traditional Bon healing practices of shamanism in his family lineage. Tempa Lama has been living and teaching in the US since 2000.
Heidi Harding is the Co-founder and President of Humla Fund. She received her Masters of Science from Tri-State College of Acupuncture in 2003 and also holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College in New York. She is a licensed and board-certified acupuncturist with a private practice in the Hudson Valley region of New York. In 2002, she began passionately studying and practicing Bon.
Timothy Aitken is the clinical director of the Humla Medical Service Trip and on the board of directors for Humla Fund. He is a licensed and board- certified acupuncturist with over 20 years experience practicing Classical Chinese Medicine. He is on the core faculty at Tri-State College of Acupuncture in Manhattan. Tim founded Eight Branches Healing Arts in New York City where he teaches and works with adults and children.
Geshe Tsewang Ngodup Lama was born in the village of Torpa in the Humla District of Nepal. When he reached the age of seven, his father sent him to Menri Monastery in India to pursue an education, including the study of Bon history and philosophy of the Bon religion. In 1998, Geshe Tsewang enrolled as a monk at Menri Monastery, continuing his studies under His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche, earning a geshe (PhD) degree in 2014. He served in many volunteer roles during his time at the monastery, including Secretary, and later Vice President, of the Bon Dialectic School. From 2010 through to the present, he has served as head of the literature department there. At the request of the villagers in his homeland, when Geshe Tsewang returned to Humla after 17 years of study, he took on his current role as head lama of the Himalayan Bon Cultural Society of Humla.
Our journey is led by Responsible Treks, with whom we have close personal and family ties with. We believe in low-impact travel and that means minimizing both our environmental impact and our cultural impact at every possible juncture. We are pilgrims, not tourists. We respect cultural norms and the local economy by employing experienced local trekking guides and support staff. Together we experience connection, global community, adventure and awe.
Day 1: This trip begins on September 27 in Kathmandu. At 2 PM, the trip leaders will hold a welcome meeting and clinic orientation in the hotel. Please plan to arrive and check into the hotel beforehand. We will celebrate with dinner together.
Day 2: In the morning, there will be a Bon teaching and mediation on love and compassion with the lamas. In the afternoon, a training session for the medical clinic. After dinner, join the hundreds of Buddhist pilgrims circumambulating the Boudnath stupa.
Day 3: Morning Meditation. Leave for Nepalgunj for flight layover and stay at Siddhartha Cottage.
Day 4: Fly to Simikot (9,700 ft.), the capital of Humla, for a day of exploration and acclimatization. Meet local families, and wander through the serene paths leading to village life. Settle into Sunny Resort and enjoy dinner together.
Day 5: An invigorating hike to the new Tibetan medical clinic on Humla Fund’s land. Our clinic is spectacularly situated with incredible views of the valley below. Celebrate Himalayan style, the historic consecration of the clinic, and marvel at the cultural dancing. Experience the joy and manifestation of a dream come true for the community with the opening of the new clinic. We will have the opportunity to camp each night in the breathtaking beauty of the mountain valley.
Days 6 & 7: Volunteers treat patients at Tibetan medical clinic.
Day 8: The shamans will perform prayers and rituals for the health and long life of the members of the medical service trip.
Day 9: We bid farewell to the people and land of Humla. We will fly to Nepalgunj and then Kathmandu.
Day 10: Explore historic and colorful Bhaktapur. This is a wonderful place to buy gifts to bring home. Final farewell and festive celebratory dinner.
Day 11: Depart Nepal on flights back home.
Although we have an itinerary, we ask that you be flexible about changes to the program that may be necessary due to unforeseen circumstances. This is sometimes a reality for travel to a remote region in a developing country. The most profound experiences often arise in the spaces in between, and traveling with locals creates space for unorchestrated moments of engagement and epiphany.