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If you ever have the privilege of meeting Tamdin Wangdu, you will understand the meaning of compassion. His effort to start the Tibetan Village Project is a terrific story that emphasizes what it means to transform tragedy into triumph. The human spirit personified in Tamdin can be part of your future if you are willing and determined to join him on a VolunTourism adventure through Tibet.
Editor's Note: I met Tamdin Wangdu earlier this year at his home in Westminster, Colorado. We had lunch together and discussed his plans for the future of the Tibetan Village Project. He told me of his meeting with the Dalai Lama and extended to me the privilege of visiting his meditation room ornately decorated with Tibetan tapestries and sacred scrolls. Recently he sent me photos from the latest adventure and notified me that he had 20 participants signed up for his July 2007 trip. Here is some additional information on Conscious Journeys, a VolunTourism trip inspired by the Tibetan Village Project:
A Brief History & Background
In the summer of 2001, Tamdin Wangdu learned that his father had died at age 57 after suffering four long days of acute sto mach pain. Not a single healthcare worker was available in or near Tamdin’s village to prevent his untimely death or even to determine its cause. Tamdin believes that just knowing how to perform CPR could have saved his life. In memory of his father, Tamdin and his wife Tseyang, started the Tibetan Village Project (TVP) in order to fund a medical treatment and prevention program in his village and surrounding areas . Now several years later, TVP has expanded its programs to support schools and community development projects.
Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT
Highlighting the accomplishments of the last six years...
- TVP’s medical program benefits 3200 patients annually through one mobile clinic and three additional clinics which provide treatment and prevention programs.
- TVP’s school program serves 1200 students including orphans in 10 schools through stipends, tuition, food, warm blankets and clothes, textbooks, and other school supplies
- Renovated or rebuilt four bridges that now provide safe passage to schools, clinics, farms, monasteries, shops, and major roads for more then 8,000 people including elders and school children.
- Established a skills training and business development program for 25 unemployed Tibetan youth, empowering them to help sustain themselves and their communities.
- Raised awareness of Tibetan culture and all aspects of project development through Tibetan photo exhibits, presentations, and cultural events in Tibet, Australia, and the United States.
Conscious Journeys is a program of the Tibetan Village Project, a nonprofit, non-political organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development while preserving the rich cultural heritage of Tibet. Coordinated by a socially responsible team of Tibetans, our balanced blend of mindful-tourism and volunteerism creates a win-win outcome for travelers and local communities.
Tamdin Wangdu, the founder and program director, combines his experience growing up in Tibet with a deep knowledge of Western culture to create Conscious Journeys. 100% of the proceeds from Conscious Journeys directly benefit the Tibetan Village Project.
Tourism has the potential to have positive and negative effects on the local environment and peoples. Making a conscious decision about how you travel can make a difference. Whether you are traveling to the Amazon rainforest or to Mt. Everest Base Camp, taking an initiative to reduce negative impact and help sustain local communities is the right thing to do. The journey of a thousand miles does begin with one step so why not let that step be yours?
'Shangri La', 'the Rooftop of the World' - locked away in its Himalayan fortress, Tibet has long exercised a siren's hold on the imagination of the West and was inaccessible to the outside world until recently. Amongst the natural beauty and amidst the bustle of sacred pilgrimages, travelers to Tibet embark upon an experience markedly unlike any other in the world. However, due to the disastrous socio-political situation resulting from Chinese occupation, people question whether or not their tourist dollars help or hurt the Tibetan way of life. We believe it all lies in your hand in terms of how you travel. If you do want to see Tibet before its culture becomes completely extinct or to help its causes in a practical way, the time is NOW, and you CAN make a positive difference.
Conscious Journeys has been carefully designed for the mindful traveler who not only wants to see the beautiful sights of Tibet, but touch, taste, and experience the authentic Tibetan way of life. Whether meditating with nuns, cooking for orphans, sharing tea with nomads, or teaching environmental clinics, a Conscious Journeys' adventure will open your heart and mind forever.
While traversing the world’s most surreal landscapes, we make time to teach English, lead Leave-No-Trace environmental clinics, distribute medical/school supplies, and assist on hands-on projects such as constructing greenhouses and sanitation facilities and conducting renovations. In addition, we offer teachings on Tibetan cultural etiquette and survival language skills.
TVP coordinates air travel from Chengdu, China to Lhasa (because of permit issues) and all in-country logistics. Your land program cost covers: food in villages, cooks, drivers, interpreters, permits & fees, travel insurance, ground transportation, hotel accommodations outside villages, a farewell party, and welcome reception! This cost does not include: international flights to Chengdu, the flight from Chengdu to Lhasa, food outside villages, or Chinese visa cost. However, TVP will help you find the best airfare and walk you through all trip logistics including: China visa, travel gear, a recommended reading list, day-to-day itinerary, detailed description of volunteer work, and health and safety information, etc. In most cases, your service work starts by raising funds to support the work of the Tibetan Village Project (happy to help with fund-raising ideas).
A Sample Itinerary
Days 1-2: Participants fly to Chengdu, face-to-face logistic orientation, rest, visit Chinese cultural sites, and prepare departure to Lhasa.
Days 3-7: After a short flight over the Himalayan Mountains we arrive in Lhasa, enjoy a welcome picnic, and alleviate our jetlag with a massage. While acclimatizing, we learn basic Tibetan cultural etiquette and survival language skills, participate in meditation and visit the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Bakhor Square. Volunteer opportunities in Lhasa include: teaching English, preparing meals for orphans, teaching Leave-No-Trace environmental clinics, and purchasing medical/school supplies for our journey to the villages.
Days 8-17: On route to the villages we visit many sacred sites such as Namtso Lake, Reting monastery, Drikung Thil monastery, and other monasteries. We will take time to enjoy a relaxing soak in a medicinal hot spring and join yaks on the stunning Tibetan hillsides for a few short hikes. While in the villages we will have opportunities to raise prayer flags, participate in ritual ceremonies and cultural activities, and interact with Tibetan farmers and nomads and learn about their way of life. Our main focus will be to visit TVP projects sites (schools, clinics, bridges, artisans) to distribute medical and school supplies, provide hands-on help, evaluate progress and identify future needs.
Days 18-21: Free time to rest; shop, prepare for your return or do more volunteer work. The trip concludes with a farewell banquet and cultural performance in Lhasa. You are free to plan your own post-TVP adventure (e.g. Everest Base Camp, Mt. Kailash, or visit to Kham) and we can assist with your plans.
Tibetan Village Project
10542 Kipling Place
Westminster, CO 80021
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