This month, we got to hang out with some teachers from the Sama Learning Center (SLC)! These teachers were raised at the RANCH (Remote Areas of Nepal Children’s Home), a program that supports children from remote Himalayan villages living with desperate situations.
Tashi Lhamo, 22, is one of the first RANCH graduates to return to her village and serve the children there.
Mingmar is also 22 years old and joined the SLC Team last year.
Both Tashi and Mingmar primarily serve as teachers at the SLC. During busy seasons, they also help at local guest houses with cooking, translating and other guest-house duties.
While they were here in town for a break, we did not want to miss a chance to sit with them and get to know them more.
Here's our conversation:
How old were you when you came to the RANCH?
Mingmar: I was only 7.
Tashi: I was only 8.
What was life like for you and in your village before coming to the RANCH?
Mingmar: I was only 3 years old when I lost my mother. I now understand what my father must have been through after my mother died and to raise 3 children. I lost my baby brother just 3 months after he was born. So it would just be me and my little sister in the house until our father would return after work in the evening.
Tashi: It’s been 12 years since I came into the RANCH. I have learnt so much and everyone here are very special to me as they have guided me and changed my life. I am so thankful to them. Before coming here, I didn’t have the privilege of going to school for my education or the proper hygiene which hampered my health.
What does family life look like back in your village?
Mingmar: My family was incomplete and lived a tough life. After my mother’s passing, I am sure that my father went through times when he didn’t know what to do, whom to seek help or where to get the money from to feed his two small daughters. But despite all this, I’m so glad that my father didn’t leave me and my sister. He did everything to keep us safe and healthy.
Tashi: My family never really had access to any education, health or hygiene facilities. And my parents never got a proper job. I lost my mother when I was only 2 years old and my father when I was 19 years old.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to return back to your village after graduating from the RANCH? How did that change your thoughts and goals while at the RANCH?
Mingmar: I was 20 years old when I wanted to return back to my village. The love, care and the support that I got while staying at the RANCH made me realize to do something for others too. I wanted to give and share what I received.
Tashi: I always wanted to return back to my village after graduating. So I got that chance when I was 20 years old. And the way I am giving back to my village is being a teacher at the Sama Learning Center (SLC). It is a new schooling system for the young toddlers that has made a lot of difference among the children, the parents and community as a whole.
What is one of your fondest memories of your time at the RANCH?
Mingmar: My fondest memory was when we celebrated the 10th year anniversary of the RANCH. We went to another city called Chitwan and spent three days exploring the city. It was so fun!
Tashi: We were a big family. Everywhere we went, we went together so that made everything fun. A trip to Chitwan with the RANCH family is definitely the best memory.
What skill and/or education are you using to serve the community you now live in? And how have you seen that carry hope to the people of you are serving?
Mingmar: The teaching skill that I have. I am using this skill and my knowledge to serve my community. I have seen education carrying hope to the people where I live in.
Tashi: I teach dance and music to the kids. I also used to teach Nepali and English language to both children and adult as the people here speak their Native language (Nubri). With the different teaching techniques and the skills that the children develop in dance and music, I see the light of hope rise in the parents as they see their children grow in knowledge and skills.
How do you see the work of the RANCH changing kids' lives?
Mingmar: The work they do is amazing! The shapes and guides the children. And they are always there to at the time of need – when you are sick, confused or unable to make decisions, taking care of each other like family does.
Tashi: The RANCH is a home to all the kids from the remote village who have had little or no access to education, health and hygiene and nutritious food. RANCH has brought hope to the children.
Question: What would you say is the most powerful agent of change and hope in the most rural areas of the Himalayas?
Mingmar: I say that love is the most powerful agent of change and hope in the most rural areas of the Himalayas. It may be through education, health training or whatever little work we can do in these areas.
Tashi: I would say education. Proper knowledge will lead to better skills which will then lead people towards a better life.
What is your hope or dream for the next generation of children living in the Himalayas?
Mingmar: My only hope for all those children growing up in the Himalayas that they would be able to help bring change and transform the village.
Tashi: I hope that when they get proper education they would go back to their own village and help bring changes in the lives of the villagers. So I hope that the coming generation would understand the value and importance of proper education and send their children to proper schools.
With just a few weeks left before returning to the village, Mingmar and Tashi are making the most of their winter vacation catching up with their friends in Kathmandu, enjoying good restaurants, and relaxing at home watching movies. Their commitment to return and serve their home village brings joy to our hearts. And their passion for lasting change continues to fuel our efforts to carry hope to the Himalayas.