Background on Nepal

Landforms Map of Nepal

Our Children Come From the Snowy North

(Map Courtesy National Geographic MapMachine)


Nepal is the poorest and hungriest country in Asia.

48% of children are underweight. In Afghanistan, it's 43%

Extreme poverty causes more illness, suffering and death than any disease.

Childhood diseases like measles, flu, chickenpox kill kids

weakened by hunger.

80 children die every day from untreated diarrhoea.



Thrangu Rinpoche's schools serve the needs of children who come from the far north of Nepal.

The areas these kids come from are high altitude, and subject to climate extremes. In Himalayan villages, there are no roads, no electricity, no telecommunication, no running water, no sanitation, no health care and no schools. Most of the people are illiterate. Their births are unrecorded and so are their children's. They are, to all intents and purposes, non-existent, invisible people.

Himalayan folkare semi-nomadic yak/goat herders or subsistence farmers. At these altitudes survival is extremely hard. The loss of an animal or a bad crop can mean the family won't make it through another year.

Nepal is battling to overcome a decade of civil war and is losing ground, dropping three points in the Human Development Index in one year. The end of the civil war in 2006 saw what little infrastructure there had been destroyed. Since then, continued political instability, high prices, and natural disasters have pushed much of the country into hunger. The World Food Programme rates the situation in Nepal as "alarming".

The Need

Admissions is an emotionally grueling time at SMD. We are besieged with pleas for help. As a couple of the Seniors who work in the Director’s Office wrote elsewhere,

For all of us at SMD, the main problem is that every single person that comes during this period are all so desperate. ...sometimes 5 or 6 parents are waiting and begging in the school offices. Mostly their kids are not on the Waiting List. We have to explain them very kindly about the problems of our school (how crowded we are) ...

Some parents or guardians don’t understand our problem. They just beg and cry in front of us. Sometimes they get angry with us and the situation becomes really upsetting and tough. We understand their problems very well but it is not in our power to admit their kids. We can only listen to their stories, fill in the Waiting List forms and try convince those parents that their child might get admission some other year.

There are more than 400 hundred kids on the waiting list and it takes many years to get admission. Our school is very crowded and we cannot take many children on the Waiting List. It is Rinpoche’s kindness that he picks the kids. We are very sorry to those parents whose child has not been admitted in SMD School.

As hunger worsens, the desperation grows. This year, half a dozen of us were in tears as we listened to stories of incredible hardship. We understand too well what they face in the villages. It is Rinpoche’s kindness that he decides who will come as boarders.

We don’t have room to help others, but our own kids understand what life is, in the villages, and they do what they can to help. This letter came from an SMDer who is in NYC....

these are some of the kids I was intending to help. They are the five poorest families in my village. I was thinking to help one of each of their kids, so that they can help and make a difference when they are educated. I have shared you my proposal about these kids when I was in Canada. Among them one is already in SMD and is sponsored by Helen Y...., who is in Vancouver. I think you know her. Recently, one of this family needs help desperately. She was poisoned by a witch and she is dying. She cannot help herself, because she doesn't have any income. I collected some money from NY from my villagers to help her. I got some money for her to see the doctors. Last week she called me and she was begging to help one of her sons. He is 9 years old. She is so worried about him, because he is the smallest. She has 6 kids and the rest of them are above 13 years. They don't have enough land to feed their kids Shirley, I know it will be very hard for you to take decision, but I have to share with you this story as this kid’s mom is begging me as she is in hospital now. I feel really sorry for her. I am just doing my best to help her. I know whenever, this kid gets an opportunity he will be a really good kid as he sees the hardships of his family. If you have any suggestion please let me know, as i feel very helpless at this moment.

I have attached the picture. He is the smallest one. His name is Karma Sherpa. He is with his mom and other siblings. Three of his siblings are not in the picture. The family has total 6 children.

Love and regards,


SMD couldn’t help Karma Sherpa.



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