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Saturday, February 13, 2010

introducing Karunamati and the Green Tara Trust

Today’s ‘FWBO People’ profile is of Karunamati, a UK Order Member and medical doctor, who’s worked for many years in Nepal, as founder and director of the Green Tara Trust.

Here’s what she says about her work -

“I have been working in Nepal for 15 years now and it is my second home. Nepal is a vibrant country where the people are very welcoming. The terrain is very tough, with poor communication routes due to the Himalayas; most people to the north of Kathmandu are nowhere near a motorable road so access is on foot.

“There has been a civil war in Nepal for a few years now; although there is now an “elected” government (the Maoists) the law and order is still poor. As a tourist it is fine to visit but for us on the ground, our work is hard due to fuel strikes and road blocks. This can hold us up considerably but we work around this, sometimes by working at night! The war has also seen huge internal migration, with a ten- fold increase in sexually transmitted infections, an increase in sexual violence towards women and the destruction of health facilities.

“Our charity works in the field trying to improve lives of the poorest people through direct action. However, in order to be more effective we also work at national level with the Government. For example, we are assisting them in re-writing the national curriculum for all Nepali health staff in preventative health measures and health communication as they currently have none. Our techniques and experience in the field inform this process. In this way we are able to improve many more lives through the health system.

1. Preventing maternal and child deaths through health promotion. Specifically we:
* Work in groups to ENCOURAGE POSITIVE BEHAVIOURS: particularly with husbands and mother in laws who control women’s access to good nutrition and medical care.
* BUILD CAPACITY in the community, particularly women’s ability to save money for their delivery, make choices and help them have a voice in society.
* IMPROVE THE MEDICAL CARE THAT IS ALREADY AVAILABLE so Government workers can deliver a World Health Organisation standard antenatal appointment.
We are into the second year of the programme now; we have many active groups and over 50 project volunteers.

2. National Lesbian Society- Mitini Nepal
We work with Mitini to provide education, counselling, support and direct legal action where human right violations have occurred as a result of discrimination. The photos shows Mitini supporters at a peaceful demonstration in Kathmandu.

“The Green Tara Trust has a new website at

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

FWBO Websites III: Buddhist Images

Some of Dhiramati's stock displayed on a recent Western Buddhist Order Convention - Vajrasattva to the foreNo 3 in our weekly series showcasing websites created by members of the Western Buddhist Order features Buddhist Images.

Buddhist Images is an on-line shop run by Dhiramati, an Order Member from Manchester UK – but a regular traveller to Nepal where he buys his fine quality Buddhist statues (rupas), Buddhist paintings (thangkas) and Buddhist ritual items of all sorts.

Dhiramati takes particular pride in his relationships with the local craftspeople and their families - most of whom run fairly small scale family operations that have been handed down generation to generation.

On the website (besides the shopping opportunity it affords!) there’s a video showing how the thangka paintings are made; and step-by-step guides to the making of the metal or wooden statues (rupas) – the raw copper being poured into clay moulds, and then worked on until the figure is finally painted carefully by hand; the wood slowly moving through stages from tree trunk to Buddha….

Due to the close relationship with the artisans themselves, Dhiramati is able to say “If you don't see what you are looking for please contact us and we can advise - we have many happy customers who have used us to source something special or have something made to order.”

Buddhist Images: a great resource for all Buddhists.

The photograph shows some of Dhiramati’s stock on display at an Order Convention.

Next week we’ll feature Sagaravajra and his Buddhist Sanctuary site, a virtual guide to his real-life “woodland sanctuary to the goddess Prajnaparamita”.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Green Tara Trust wins funding for major social project in Nepal

The FWBO's Karuna Trust have succeeded in fundraising a donation of £32,819 for a project in rural Nepal run by Dharmacharini Karunamati. Her Green Tara Trust exists to help mothers, infants and young people in a region recently ravaged by civil war and where health conditions are amongst the worst in the world.

The project will be tackling some of the effects of the civil war - poverty, poor access to (and destruction of) health facilities, the death toll (over 13,000 lives have been lost since 1996) and the flight of medical professionals – all of which have contributed to high maternal and infant mortality, plus high incidences of sexual violence, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. There are now only 5 doctors for 100,000 people, compared to 216 in the UK. You can read more about some of the background and Green Tara’s involvement here.

The project itself provides a long-term community-based response to the rural health crisis; educating and helping people to help themselves. In particular it aims to improve maternal and infant health and decrease mortality, and to improve young people’s sexual health. It also encourages support and understanding for women and young people in a very patriarchal and hierarchal society, advocating changes to the health system, both locally and nationally, through links with the Nepali government and universities.

More specifically, the project will educate mothers about maternal and child health through group training, a mentoring system, and through providing clean delivery kits and post-natal checks. It will provide sexual health education to young people and encourage behaviour change through setting up peer-led groups and media campaigns. It will train health staff and local volunteers and guide and support the community in advocacy and also work with local GPs, government officials and local NGOs to improve health services and re-write the national health education curriculum. In total it is estimated that the project will directly benefit 5,500 people, predominantly women and teenagers, and indirectly over 100,000 people.

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