Dolma is one of several children. She is the daughter of extremely poor farmers. The family is in a village called Nar, in northern Nepal in a region called Manang. Manang is high altitude very dry country. There is famine in Manang right now. Dolma and her family never have had enough to eat and they can't afford warm clothing or bedding for the harsh winters. The whole village is poor; 98% of the villagers are illiterate, there are no roads and it's more than 7 days' walk to the nearest road.
Dolma is quite undersized because of malnourishment, but she is a spirited little girl and very protective of her younger brother and sister who came along to the school with her.
Dolma Chodon's parents are high-altitude subsistence farmers in a village called Nar in northern Nepal. The district she comes from is called Manang. You can see from the photos how difficult farming must be in Nar. Manang is extremely poor...there is famine every year. Most of Dolma's villagers are unable to read or write (only 2% are literate, and they are all lamas). There is no electricity and there are no roads.
Dolma Chodon and her sister and brother are all quite undersized (Dolma Chodon is 9, but is the size of a 5 or 6 year-old Canadian girl) because of malnourishment. All the children seem intellectually unimpaired, though.
Nyima Dorje is from the mountains in the north-east of Nepal, just across from Tibet proper. He is from a part of Nepal called Nubri, which is in the district called Gorhka. Not even a hundred years ago, Nubri was Tibet, but it became Nepal after some border adjustments.
Nubri is poorer than many parts of Nepal...only one out of four babies survives to be a year old. Nyima's village is at least a week's walk from the nearest road. Most of the villagers except the lamas are illiterate...there is no school.
Nyima's oldest brother is our (almost khenpo) monk Karma Chogyal. Karma Chogyal is one of the teachers at Thrangu Rinpoche's shedra (university for higher buddhist studies). Their parents are semi-nomads.