SMD alum Tsewang Gyurme from Lho village, Gorkha district, started Grade 11 in the Management stream last July at HIMS (Himalayan International Model School), about half an hour’s walk from SMD in Boudha. While he still gets to board at SMD, he and six other alumnus are finishing their grade school education at HIMS, as we are too crowded to offer grades 11 and 12. Gyurme believes this program will give him the skills to bring change to Lho village. Here is his story and message:
My life until today has been bound by the famous advice, which says “We need to learn to educate both brain and heart”. All these years of staying at SMD School, I was taught to educate both my brain and heart equally. I had the opportunity to learn Dharma through various means, such as having Monk teachers, classmates and friends. Saturday Dharma class was the place where we were taught to be a person who can help others. I strongly believe that this made a huge impact on the person who I have become today and my future me.
People in Lho village, where I was born, depend on subsistence agriculture and cattle rearing, the two main occupations. The life of my people is in a critical condition after the earthquakes of 2015, where many lost houses and cattle. That left my village dependent on the help of others, but I strongly believe that Lho is capable of self- sufficiency. By changing and adopting modern ways of farming, teaching villagers how to protect seeds and how to store food that can be used in the winters and in the difficult times, will lead to the improvement in the life of people in my village.
The huge problem that I see in Lho is that the farming practices are so labor intensive that children’s labor is necessary for family survival. That leads to school dropouts (some of my close friends) and has led to other issues such as child marriage, and makes children vulnerable to traffickers. The only solution that I can think of is through making my village more capital intensive, helping them with new technologies such as tractors. This change, from labor intensive to capital intensive, will lead to more children being in school and will decrease the rate of child marriage.
The remote village of Lho is surrounded by a stunningly beautiful landscape with mountains on two sides. It is becoming a center of attraction for many foreigners. This is a big opportunity for everyone, but at the same time, this holds a threat to our society of losing its culture and traditions, things that are only understood by a few people. I strongly think that as an alum of SMD, I will be able to focus on Thrangu Rinpoche’s aims (which I was taught all these years at SMD) and the preservation of the language and Buddhist traditions in Lho village.
I have a lot of faith in Himalayan women. They are strong and hardworking. I was brought up by a single mother when my dad had to go to jail. She raised me well, despite the struggles that she had to go through. Although I was lucky to get an opportunity to study at SMD School, my mom had huge difficulties in getting me to Kathmandu from our village. I’m aware of all the hardship that Himalayan women go through and I see each time they prove that they can do whatever men can do. The reason that the women in my society face so much trouble is that they are lacking in opportunities. Our society has made them dependent so much on the man. My dream in the future lies to fight for the women in society by giving priority in terms of jobs, which will make women independent from their husbands. I also want to make sure everyone values the voices and rights of women.
Today, many people who study business do not seem to remember the importance of our environment, how much it has provided us with. I can promise that whatever I will do in future after my studies, I will always remember the value of environment in sustaining my community.