We met Donyot in 2005, when he was a shy but talented third grade student in a tiny village school. At that time, the student sponsorship program we ran as part of our non-profit work on the Tibetan Plateau was just beginning. While visiting Donyot’s village to assess possibilities for helping his impoverished elementary school, both his teacher and his father approached us. He was a naturally intelligent and working little boy, but both his father and his teacher were concerned that, unless he had access to a better quality school, he would never be able to reach his full potential.
Our student sponsorship program has always focused on selecting students who were finishing elementary school and making the transition to middle school – which is much more expensive than the village elementary schools, and which was an impossible dream for many impoverished children. But what Donyot’s father – and his teacher! – said was true: the decrepit village elementary school he was in didn’t have the capacity to give him the foundational knowledge he would need to achieve his dreams.
And so, we agreed. As a tiny third grader, Donyot moved to town and began studying at the county elementary school – a boarding school specializing in high quality Tibetan language education.
And why am I writing about this now? Because we just got a phone call from Donyot. Last spring he graduated from middle school and was accepted to study in a very good vocational school. We had already enrolled him in his new program, but he called to say he’d been further accepted to participate in a special program, studying simultaneously for his vocational qualifications and the equivalent of a two-year college degree. He still has a lot of studying to do, but his incredibly hard work has paid off, and in three years he will be qualified to seek and find solid employment to launch him into a health future.
We are so excited for Donyot, and grateful for the privilege of helping him realize his dreams. While Reywa isn’t yet footing the bill for his education – we’ve only just begun our first season of sales, so we are still funding our student sponsorship program through non-profit donations – we are anticipating the day Reywa itself will be selling enough Tibetan fiber that Donyot – and many other students like him – will be able to see their dreams fulfilled through the sale of their people’s most beloved natural resource.