Tibetan Home of Hope is about as far from my Oregon home base as a school could get, and one of the most inspiring.
I learned of it through my cousin Steve, who served on their board and has been there 3 times with his son, Zac, and subsequently my son, Miles who spent a few weeks on site, sleeping on a hard clay pallet, wrangling students and teaching English. (For some reason I thought he also feasted on roasted Yak while visiting, but Steve insists that delicacy was encountered not at the school, but down in Lhasa.)
Established by Tashi Dolma, a Tibetan Doctor now based in New York, the THOH provides a remarkable range of services for children who would otherwise likely be living or dying in the streets. The school’s mission includes promoting “the sustainability of the Tibetan people, their culture and the balance of nature.”
Their programs include a nonsectarian home and school, offering not only food, clothing, medical care and shelter, along with cultural and academic training, but hands-on, real life skill development often lacking in much tonier facilities as well. Artisans are recruited to live on site and teach traditional Tibetan craftsmanship, including “Thangka painting, jewelry, carved & painted wooden boxes and screens, furniture, carpet weaving and textiles.” The compound is built amidst fields of grain, and the children are fully involved in all aspects of food production, including the feed and caring for a variety of farm animals. They shear their sheep and goats, using the wool in the THOH Artisan program. Greenhouses and orchards provide a variety of fruits and vegetables, no doubt resulting in a far healthier diet than most Americans experience. They are also developing a bakery in a nearby village.
Paradoxically, while so many American schools struggle to build a bond between students, staff and school, the THOH, working with a barebones budget, has managed to establish a sense of committed family, with training and support seamlessly integrated into the overall experience.
Tibetan Home of Hope is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are most welcome. You can fully sponsor a child at the school ($800 annually) or help send them off to college ($1500 annually). More information can be found on their website, http://www.tibetanhomeofhope.org or by emailing email@example.com