Empowering women of the Himalayas and northern India
by Charles Hastings
In Imagine Clarity, we practice every day to develop not only clarity and mindfulness but also real altruistic love. Many of our users have told us of the changes that this has made in the relationships they have with those around them. This happens when we really try to put our altruistic attitude to work in our daily life. You may also be wondering what concrete contribution you could make for a better world; the world today seems to be so full of aggression and the news we read is often bad. However some wonderful things are happening and we would like to share with you some insight into the projects that Matthieu Ricard has set in motion to really make a significant difference in people’s lives. Matthieu started to get involved in humanitarian work in Nepal in the 1980s and created Karuna-Shechen in 2000. Since then the organization has continued to grow, and each year some 250,000 people benefit from its activities in disadvantaged communities in Nepal, Tibet and India. As you probably know Imagine Clarity is a partner of Karuna-Shechen and every Imagine Clarity subscription contributes to its funding, so as a subscriber to Imagine Clarity you are already involved. All Matthieu’s earnings from his many books go to Karuna-Shechen and the rest comes from a myriad of large and small supporters. Its staff are in direct contact with the populations involved in the projects, and actors within the community are empowered to create sustainable changes which can eventually continue without outside help. Matthieu explains:
Our work seamlessly brings together the generosity of those who support us, the dedication of those who implement the projects, and the active participation of those who benefit from them. All these elements are closely interdependent and each of them plays an irreplaceable role.
When the 2015 earthquake struck in Nepal, Karuna-Shechen was already well implanted on the ground and able to provide appropriate help right away. After the first emergency phase its work is still continuing, with initiatives in education, health and sustainable development to transform communities which were already severely disadvantaged even before the quake flattened their homes. This month Karuna-Shechen is emphasizing the empowerment of women. It is well known that this is a key element for lifting communities out of poverty. When women of all ages receive training and education, their families and entire communities benefit. To quote Matthieu again:
To promote a more just and altruistic world, we must help women to actualize their potential. Providing village women with access to education, training, and economic opportunities is at the heart of our approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. Karuna-Shechen removes stigmas and breaks taboos about what rural women can and cannot do. As the Dalai Lama often points out, we need empathy, altruism and compassion more than ever, so it’s time to enter the ‟age of the woman.”
Karuna-Shechen’s activities are changing the lives of individuals, their families, and their communities. Its strategy is based on active community participation and the preservation of local natural resources, expertise, and culture, creating projects that can be duplicated and continued in the future within the community and without outside help. You can discover the details of their projects with many beautiful pictures on their inspiring website. Click here to learn more.
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