December 5 2019
Twenty years ago, Matthieu Ricard set out to build a better world for the people of the Himalayan region through the founding of Karuna-Shechen. Working in remote and underserved villages, made poss...
Karuna-Shechen has developed a creative approach to helping vulnerable communities become sustainable and self-reliant. We begin with compassion and build on local strengths and knowledge. Rather than telling villagers what they need and implementing solutions on their behalf, we observe challenges, listen to the needs identified by the villagers themselves, and work with communities to develop and implement sustainable solutions.
Our small money BIG CHANGE program in India exemplifies this approach, working hand-in-hand with villagers to put altruism in action.
Our field team works within villages to identify challenges and share ideas for possible solutions. Lack of water for drinking and irrigation, electricity, and quality educational facilities are commonly identified as major needs, as are access to adequate nutrition and personal hygiene. By empowering villagers in this way, we seek to affirm their dignity and self-determination.
In each village, local committees are set up and a motivator is chosen to serve as an essential link between the people and us. Through community meetings and planning sessions, villagers prioritize and help plan small-scale projects that directly address their specific needs with a minimum of start-up funding. This teaches transparency and the responsibilities of ownership and, equally, helps us identify the hidden talents and natural ingenuity of the people we serve.
We involve the community in every step, investing 50% of the project cost and allowing villagers to finance the other 50%. Each family contributes to a special savings account and two villagers, with the support of a Karuna-Shechen coordinator, keeps track of the finances. The villagers feel a sense of pride for their contribution and for their investment in labor to bring the project to fruition.
A crucial part of our work entails providing villagers with the tools and knowledge they need to sustainably use local resources and to contribute concretely to their community’s well-being. By empowering villagers to be active participants in the solutions to their problems, we equip the community to sustain their projects, independent of external help, thereby providing short-term support that fosters long-term change.
Thinking holistically, we work to implement solutions within each village that bridge gaps and build on strengths. Each of our activities is interconnected, and together they create an eco-system of altruistic action that builds on each other’s success to progressively empower villagers and improve quality of life in rural communities.
Our holistic approach allows us to effectively work with villagers to cultivate, spread, and put altruism in action. Each project we develop thereby helps expand our collective goodwill and create a better and more sustainable world, one village at a time.
November 15 2019
Karuna-Shechen’s projects are developed to serve the needs of villagers and communities in remote and under-served areas of Nepal, India, and Tibet. While we gauge success based on the number of peo...
Meet the villagers, our team, and all those who make our work possible. Discover the values that guide and inspire us. And learn how your generous support improves the living conditions of 250,000 peo...