Since setting out to help change the lives of the people in their home village in Nepal, Durangoans Karma Bhotia and his wife Jyamu have started educational programs, a regional market and other programs.
Karma returned to his home village, Chyamtang, for the first time in 25 years last year and helped rebuild the local school with volunteers from Southwest Colorado.
This fall Karma and Jyamu returned with local health professionals and volunteers to educate people in the region about nutrition and disease prevention and establish a regional market to help the community transition away from a trade-based economy. The group also checked up on the day care center and school lunch program their foundation is supporting.
The lunch program is one of the few available at a government school in Nepal, and it was particularly important to the Bhotias because they went hungry at school in Nepal.
During their visit, the Bhotias talked with community members about their priorities and how people can take responsibility for the success of the newly established programs to help make sure that they endure.
“I want to go slowly, but successfully,” he said.
To this end, the foundation has set up two boards, one in Nepal and one in Durango to help manage their organization.
For the locals, medical care is a major concern, and to help meet some of their needs Kathleen Tischhauser, a registered nurse, and Marla Luckey, a public health expert, accompanied the Bhotias on their trip.
Tischhauser treated about 160 people on the trip and saw a great need for pain medication and all other care. During her time, she was struck by the great appreciation and welcome ceremonies the locals held.
“It just moved me to tears,” she said.
In several villages, Luckey and Jyamu Bhotia gave presentations on topics such as hand washing, drinking water and eating a variety of foods.
As they spent more time with people, the health professionals noted many children drinking alcohol and everyone spending lots of time in smoky environments because of their cook fires. But changing this behavior to help the people live more healthful lives will take time and education, Karma Bhotia said.
The foundation, through local donations, has also been supporting Khahare, a village devastated by the earthquakes in April and May and largely overlooked by the relief groups. The Bhotias also visited this village where donations helped build 63 houses.