Help Rural Tibetan Doctors By Donating Below.
As I sit in the shade behind the Potala Palace, reflecting on a very spiritual and eye-opening month-long journey through Tibet, I can’t help but feel very emotional. I came here to teach a group of eight rural Tibetan doctors a wilderness first aid class based on an American curriculum, but I will leave knowing that the Tibetan people have taught me more about myself and what is important in life than I could possibly ever teach them about Western medicine. I have had so many incredible experiences on my journey to Lhasa. I have seen, first hand, how ill-equipped and poorly educated many of the rural doctors are but I have also seen how big their hearts are, how hard they want to work, how immense their thirst for knowledge is, and how, if they are given a chance, they will learn everything about medicine that I can throw their way. I have taught everything from scene safety to strokes, child birth to choking, splinting, how to stop bleeding, how to take a patient history, and how to take vital signs. I have had the privilege to impart some of the knowledge I have to these amazing students.

I have walked around a Mani pile with an old Khampa man while he quizzed me on Tibetan words. Go-head, Na-Nose, Kha-mouth, Mig-eye, Cho-ear. I will never forget these words or that man. I have been to the Ruth Walter Chungba Primary School where the U.S. based NGO Machik is boarding and educating over 500 nomad children who never seem to complain even though they go to school from 6:00 in the morning to 8:00 at night, 300 days a year. I have looked into the eyes of the 16 year-old students who will soon be the first graduating class from the Chungba School and have realized how heartbroken they are that, unless someone raises some money, they will not be able to go to high school.

I have been to the dusty, dirty boarder regions and watched the people as they happily go through their daily routines. I have looked into the face of a van driver who had just crashed his van and could see him holding back his tears knowing full well that his livelihood was resting on its roof on the side of the road with no windows, missing the front wheels, 6 hours from anywhere, and have realized that this man’s life was now ruined.

I have had the distinct opportunity to meet and drink barley wine with the 70+ year-old American Richard Harlan (Aba – Grandpa) who has selflessly spent much of his pension putting over 70 nomad children through middle school, high school, and college. I have listened as Richard told me stories of his travels and how one of his student’s parents made the barley wine that we were currently getting very inebriated on. I have been embarrassed listening to Richard tell me that “It is a privilege and a joy to meet me because it is so rare to meet someone who is willing to sacrifice their time and comfort to directly improve the lives of Tibetans.” I hope, some day, I can be as giving and selfless as Richard Harlan, who is truly an amazing man. I am the one who is privileged and honored to have met him.

I have been taken in by Khampa nomads after a very unlucky situation and made balloon animals with their son as they fed me unlimited cups of butter tea. Although we were smiling and having fun, I found myself wondering what this boy's future would be like. Will he get to go to elementary school, or even learn to write, let alone go to college? Probably not, unless someone like Richard Harlan steps up to pay for his education. I have met two incredible Tibetan women who, against all odds, are running their own businesses and are very successful. I have listened as they have asked me to help them set up an NGO because they want to help people.

I have visited the Dickey Orphanage in Lhasa where a Tibetan born American Doctor is currently paying for the welfare of 73 children, some of whom were picked up in rural areas by tour drivers, some left at monasteries or at the door of the orphanage. I have played basketball and soccer with the boys, sung songs, jumped rope, and danced with the girls. I have looked into the eyes of these children who can never be adopted because they do not have Government ID cards, so in the eyes of the State they don’t really exist.

I have walked with the pilgrims as they circumambulate the Johkang Temple, one of the most holy places for Tibetans. I have chanted mantras (Om Mani Padme Hum) with them while they spin their Mani Wheels in a never ending clockwise rotation. I have clutched my prayer beads along with them and prayed for all beings to be released from suffering. I have watched the pilgrims, some of whom are missing limbs, with wood and plastic taped and tied to their hands and knees, dressed in leather aprons to protect their bodies, prostrate themselves, some for hundreds and thousands of miles, just so they can get to the Barkhor Market and eventually to the Johkang Temple.

I have talked to the drivers and almost been in tears as they have told me stories of escaping to Dharamsala, India, over the Himalayas with their younger siblings only to have to come back home to be with their families and been refused work by the Government because they had fled the country. I watched them struggle to hold back their tears as they told me how sad they were that they will never see their family who chose to stay in Dharamsala. I have heard them tell me that they are afraid that they are losing their culture. I have watched the tears well up in their eyes when I showed them a picture of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, that I have on my IPod. I have seen my guide look at the ground, to hide her words from the ever present video cameras, and heard her whisper, "The reason the clock in the Norbulingka is stopped at 9:00 p.m. is because that is the time H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama fled Lhasa for India and upon his return the clock will start ticking again." knowing full well that the chances of the big hand ever moving from the 12 are waning. If that isn’t enough I have seen the anger and frustration in the faces of the people as the Chinese soldiers walk counterclockwise, the wrong direction for Tibetan Buddhists, around the Johkang, wielding automatic weapons.

I feel very lucky to have met all these amazing people, have had all these awesome experiences, and that I am happy and healthy. However, I don’t feel like I can abandon these people to the inevitable destruction of their culture, to the unnecessary lack of medical equipment and training in rural Tibet, abandon the orphans with no chance of a future, and walk away from the lack of rural Tibetan education, without trying to do something. I feel, and I hope now you feel, that something needs to be done to help the Tibetan people. I hope that these stories have opened your eyes to the plight of the Tibetan people and given you some insight into their lives. I also hope that you will help these incredible people by donating as little as $10.00 to help purchase much needed supplies for rural Tibetan doctors and help them receive more Western-based medical training.

If you would like to donate to the Tibetan Doctors' cause, you can click the Donate Here button below and donate online or you can mail a check made out to, Andes Mountain Guides, PO Box 1175 Bozeman, MT 59771. Please note Tibet Doctors on the memo line. If you would like to donate more than $10.00, feel especially moved, or would rather make a tax-deductible donation, you can investigate other options by clicking the links to the NGOs below. I appreciate your time in reading this email and hope that you will help the Tibetan people as they struggle to improve their lives.

Tashi delek (Good Luck and Best Wishes)

Mike Cooperstein, Lhasa Tibet
October 5, 2010

Donate Here
Support the Dicky Orphanage: Dicky Orphanage 
Support the Education of Rural Tibetan Students: Machik
Support the Preservation of Tibetan Culture: Winrock International
Learn About Richard Harlan and His Work: Zhaxika
For more information or to help, Please Contact Andes Mountain Guides: Contact Us

©2010 Andes Mountain Guides, Ltd.
Forward this email to a friend | Subscribe to mailing list | Unsubscribe
Follow us! Join our mailing list! Get the inside line on AMG happenings and exclusive deals.

facebook Follow AndesMTG on Twitter rss youtube vimeo

This e-mail is generated from Mike Cooperstein's, Montana Alpine Guides, The Bozeman Ice Festival, and from Andes Mountain Guides mailing lists. Please help Mike Cooperstein, Juan Villagra, and Andes Mountain Guides help the Tibetan people. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all my friends and family who supported me during this project and would like to extend a special thank you to Chelsea Hall and Susan Mulhall for all of their hard work. Thank you to Machik for putting this training together. To all of the doctors who braved the long, bumpy, dirty, and arduous journey from some very remote Tibetan villages to join us for this training. A special thank you also needs to be extended to the translators who selflessly sacrificed their time and did their best to translate some very complex topics. I appreciate all the new friends I have made while in Tibet. I hope to see you all again. I also hope this program continues in the future and that AMG can find a way to support the mountain people of Tibet and around the world. Na Cho La Gar (I love you all).