Beyond the Clouds of Nepal

Nepal is an intoxicating country to say the least. At night you almost feel like you are on top of the world and can touch the stars with your outstretched hand.

With Tibet to the North and India to the South, Nepal is a land steeped with mysticism, forbidden kingdoms, beauty and charm.

While traveling by taxi to Kokhana which is located outside of Kathmandu, we passed a long winding line of about 70 school children waiting in the rain. The taxi driver explained these children were waiting to register for school and that they would be there throughout the night. I cringed at the thought and then marveled at their dogged determination and burning desire to receive an education. Education in general is highly respected and regarded throughout the country of Nepal.

During our travels we spent time visiting villages and conducting community outreach meetings where we performed vocational training with the locals. We covered topics like how to repurpose plastic garbage bags into plarn (plastic yarn) so they could make useful items they could sell and how to make Family Planning Cycle Beads. This calendar based necklace is an affordable solution for women of little means. Many of Nepal’s remote villages are poverty stricken. By repurposing garbage bags they are able to help address Nepal’s serious pollution problem and also have a means to earn a living. Sadly most of the women living in remote areas are illiterate. As such if they become widowed they are left penniless and unable to support themselves or their children. By showing these women how to repurpose trash which is available in abundance, they are able to earn a living and provide for themselves and their kids.

To the West nestled in between the majestic Annapurna mountains you will find the Pema Ts’al Sakya Monastery. It is located just outside of Pokhara near the famous Fishtail Lake. A fairytale setting where 50 young monks (or baby monks as I lovingly call them) and 45 college monks live and study. The life of a monk is not an easy one. They start their day at 5:00 am and prepare for their daily 6:00 am morning prayer session, or pujas as they call them. Their daily activities revolve around praying, learning, studying, debating, practicing the lama dance and performing community service. Their only day off is Sunday which is usually spent swimming and washing their robes in the beautiful setting of the Seti Gandaki River.

Most of the young monks at Pema Ts’al come from the extremely impoverished region of Mustang. Once or twice a year some of the monks return to this region to visit with their families and to perform community service. This coming October some of the young monks will be teaching local Mustangy’s the Bridging Humanity technique for getting a higher potatoe yield with the help of garbage bags. A simple cost effective solution that once again repurposes garbage bags and can be seen in the following video.

Stay tuned for more Bridging Humanity encounters from the land of the gods. A world bathed in a special atmosphere and enriching experiences from beyond the clouds of Nepal.

By Tina Cornely

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Tina Cornely is a long standing humanitarian and environmental activist. She is the former Director of Technology of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the former Director of Operations at the Miami Art Museum in Miami, Florida. Ms. Cornely believes that art is healing and revealing. In her own words, we can express with art what we cannot express with words. When we use art to teach others, we help increase their critical thinking skills exponentially. Art can also be a means to generate a revenue source. And when you make art out of trash, everyone benefits.

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