New foundation, old souls
AHF supports an elders’ home near Swayambhunath, where 50 destitute Tibetan refugees are cared for by a dedicated staff and volunteers from the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA). The home suffered extensive damage last year; one building had to be torn down, and all that remains is the base where the new foundation stones have just been laid. The elders are living crowded two- or three- to a room in the remaining building.
Two months ago Erica and I met with members of the TWA over cups of tea to discuss rebuilding plans. We could feel their anguish over ensuring the safety and care of the elders. The unwelcoming atmosphere for Tibetan refugees in Nepal has driven many Tibetans out of the country, and business—mostly carpets and handicrafts—has been bad for those who stayed behind. With many in their community no longer able to support them, a lifeline had been lost.
They had exhausted all other avenues, so we talked through some hard decisions on the cost of the new building. Taking on such an enormous responsibility was clearly not what they imagined when this new group of TWA members took the reins for their three years, but it was a challenge they would rise to no matter what it takes. They’re a tightly-knit and determined group, and it’s touching to see them put the needs of these elders before their own.
We had already pledged to support a large part of the rebuilding. Our long partnership with these women, helping Tibetan elders who have no one else, embodies AHF—and we are honored to give them the extra help they need to get them over the finish line.