I've mentioned a few times here that for several years in my late twenties, I lived on the grounds of a Tibetan Buddhist center in Bloomington, Indiana. It was an incredible experience living and volunteering there. At the time, the center was owned and run by His Holiness the Dalai Lama's brother. When the Dalai Lama came to speak in 2003, those of us who volunteered were given a private audience with him the following morning. It remains one of the most profoundly beautiful days of my life. I also became friends with the monks who lived at the center, and they often shared stories with me of their families (and sometimes, them too) fleeing to India and Nepal after China overran Tibet in 1959. It broke my heart, and I've continued to back the Free Tibet movement and to fight for Tibetan refugees living in India and Nepal in the years following my departure from the center.
When I heard about the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal a little over a week ago, killing thousands, the first thing I thought about was the families of those monks and other Tibetans I'd gotten to know over the years, many of who already lived in impoverished settings. Seeing the horrible pictures of injured people and physical damages continues to bring tears to my eyes - but sitting here, safe and privileged in my office in Chicagoland, USA, I have no idea what these people are actually going through. It's easy to feel detached from catastrophes that occur thousands (or even hundreds) of miles away, even when you feel connected in some far off way like I do, unless you can somehow physically be there. I can't, so all I can really do right now is make donations to help with the relief efforts.
Because it can be difficult to know which aid groups are legitimate in disasters like this, I decided to do some research to find organizations with an established presence that can be trusted to use donations in effective ways. A friend on Facebook had posted an article by Public Radio International about Charity Net, a group that evaluates the work of nonprofits and gives them ratings based on their findings. They have posted a list of seven vetted charities doing relief for Nepal, including Seva (my favorite), AmeriCares, and Global Giving. If you want to help Nepal, please consider making a donation to one of these organizations, or one of the others on the list, which can be found here.
Sending all the good energy I can muster to this stunningly beautiful part of the world and all of its inhabitants.
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