So the other day I wrote about why we needed to start Reywa to help provide alternative forms of income that don’t contribut to environmental degradation or outright unsafety in Tibetan communities. But yesterday, I lived a beautiful moment which spurred us on even more than that!
Friday we got a call from a good friend who used to be a teacher at the school in the highlands where we worked. One of our sponsored students was in town for the weekend, preparing to head back to school where she is finishing the last semester of an equivalent of an Associate of Arts degree. We met our friend and Darma, the student, for lunch at a local Tibetan restaurant (YUM!) and had a wonderful time reminescing over old memories.
Darma’s village is truly the most remote of the remote. Far beyond anything reasonably called a road, our first trip in was an adventure beyond compare. We went because our commitment was to go to the poorest of the poor, the most remote of the remote…to those places and people where, if we didn’t go, no one was going to go to help. This village fit that description perfectly! When we arrived, not a single student had ever made it beyond elementary school. In that region, elementary schools were set up in most every village, but to go to middle school, kids had to travel more than 10 hours on very unsafe, often unpassable roads. Few people had ever even thought of sending their children to school, and for many who might have wanted to, there was no money to do it.
Darma was one of 5 students we selected from that village to enter into our student sponsorship program. Today we still sponsor her, even though our NGO has closed up shop. (Hopefully Reywa itself will be footing that bill!) At lunch we asked how things were in her village. Had any other children followed in their footsteps to study?
To our delight, she lit up. Oh yes, 30 or 40 other students have left their tiny village to get educations. Our teacher friend turned to us and said “that’s because of you. You had the idea. You helped these 5 students study. They were the first. Others saw them go and realized their children could do it, too.”
How awesome. We pray Reywa will enable us to keep sponsoring Darma, her classmates, and many many more!