Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
September 18 - October 4, 2017
With Tempa Dukte Lama, Heidi Harding, Timothy Aitken, and Geshe Tsewang Ngodup
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 midst of the spectacular Himalayan mountain range; secluded from modern life, it remains home to the ancient spiritual and pre-Buddhist culture of Bon. However, due in part to this isolation, the Humli people confront serious challenges in accessing health care. Trek through the majestic Himalayan mountains to deliver no-cost, high-quality holistic health care to the surrounding villages.
The Humla Medical Service trip offers the opportunity for acupuncturists, naturopaths, midwives, doctors, nurses, herbalists, massage therapists and non-medical volunteers to share their compassion and skill. The trip provides an opportunity to experience meaningful human exchange and to encounter the ancient wisdom traditions of the Humli culture. Non-medical support volunteers are essential for the success of the clinics and encouraged to join.
Tempa Lama and Geshe Tsewang both natives of Humla, will support the group through teachings and meditation practices on compassion from the Bon spiritual teachings of wisdom and love. This will offer the practitioner an opportunity for spiritual renewal and growth. As wisdom and compassion are shared human aspirations, these teachings offer support to practitioners and volunteers of all beliefs. By deepening the connection with our inner wisdom as practitioners, we will have more compassion and inner strength for the patients we will be treating in these village clinics.
Participants will have the opportunity to experience the shaman’s harvest festival and rituals and receive the blessings and prayers of the indigenous healers.
This trip is joyful and rugged. Participants need to be in good physical shape. The trip is transformative and requires emotional internal 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 the impulse of gratitude. Gratitude is the 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 within each human being, and crosses all boundaries. The inspiration for this service trip comes out of a 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.
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 towards strengthening the native healing traditions and occur side by side. Our goal is to provide greater access to health care and preserve the traditional healing practices that are at risk of being lost as Humla slowly modernizes. Shamanism is the main form of medicine in Humla. With respect and commitment for preserving this healing tradition, Humla Fund makes donations to each of the villages we visit to rebuild the temples and strengthen the native healing traditions and festivals.
Humla Fund is the first organization to lead the way in bringing free Tibetan medicine, acupuncture, midwifery care, and natural forms of medicine as primary care to the Humla Valley. These traditional medicines are especially well suited for serving traditional people. The medical aid we bring fits into the culture that values the intimate connection and balance with nature, and understands hands-on medicine. Stewarding the intricate balance between people, land, food, medicine, environment and culture is central to our philosophy in the clinics. We have seen that our way of working with the body and treating illness is very compatible with our Humli patients’ world views. Our approach to primary care treatment alleviates symptoms, while also addressing the root cause of symptoms. The whole person is treated in a comprehensive way, showing immediate effects that can also be long lasting, well beyond the time the treatment is given. Our medical aid is uniquely suited to providing primary care in this remote area because we do not rely on lab tests, machinery, electricity or pharmaceuticals to deliver effective care. In the future, Humla Fund plans to establish a permanent and sustainable traditional Tibetan medical clinic with midwifery nursing care in Humla. The medical clinics and all of Humla Fund’s projects aim to strengthen and protect Humla’s cultural resources for future generations.
- Be of service by delivering holistic health care to hundreds of Humli villagers.
- Trek through 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
"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. On this trip I experienced what it means to be of authentic service from a place of deep inner awareness, connecting with a sense of collective purpose." -Lillian H. Rieder
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, 2017. The total cost of the trip is non-refundable after July 1, 2017. Payment after July 1, 2017 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 any 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, sleeping bag, emergency evacuation, horse and horseman if you are unable to walk, 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. Humla Fund is committed to supporting the local economy and we employ over 50 Humli 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.
Trekking Guides. Our journey is led by Responsible Treks, with whom we have deep 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 18 in Kathmandu. At 2:00, 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. After dinner, join the hundreds of Buddhist pilgrims circumambulating the Boudnath stupa.
Day 2: The following morning will be a lecture on traditional medicine in Humla by Tibetan doctor (amchi) Tsering Norbu. Later in the day we will explore some of the spiritual sights of Kathmandu.
Day 3: We will set up a clinic for the monks and children at Triten Norbuste Monastery in Kathmandu.
Day 4: Morning Meditation. Leave for Nepalgunj for flight layover and stay at Siddhartha Cottage.
Day 5: Fly to Simikot (9,700 ft.), the district capital of Humla, for a day of exploration and acclimatization.
Days 6, 7, 8, 9 ,10, 11, 12, 13: We will trek to Burause (10,500 ft.) to set up the first of our mobile clinics. We will have the opportunity to camp each night in the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayan mountain valley. We will then trek and create clinics in the villages of Torpa, and Nyimatang (10,500 ft.), and Bargaun (9,700 ft.).
There will be a non-clinic day during which the village shamans will perform prayers and rituals for the health and long life of the members of the medical service trip.
Days 14-15: We will trek back to Simikot to bid farewell to the people and land of Humla. We will fly to Nepalgunj and then Kathmandu.
Day 16: Explore Bhaktapur. Final farewell and celebratory dinner.
Day 17: Depart Nepal on flights back home.
Although we have an itinerary, We ask that you be flexible to 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.