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 uses a type of street theater — known locally in India and Nepal as Nukkad Natak — as a tool to raise awareness of sensitive issues within the communities we serve. Our sponsored dramas are performed by local actors to shine a spotlight on topics ranging from public toilets to reproductive health. These dramas prompt discussion, encourage acceptance, and facilitate understanding of taboo issues among villagers.
The street dramas are informal, take place in village streets, and are open to everyone. They are lively and interactive, with skits, songs and dances, and a question-and-answer session, where villagers openly discuss topics and receive important information. This method is more effective than disseminating information through written material, which most people can’t read.
Karuna-Shechen has been successfully sponsoring these street dramas for years, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Audiences often reach upward of 500 people, and attendees are engaged and responsive. To villagers, it’s a familiar medium — and a comfortable way to consider uncomfortable topics. To Karuna-Shechen, it’s an innovative way to move issues forward and change people’s lives.
The benefits of these simple performances are dramatic. In the Indian villages where we’ve installed community toilets, not only has use increased, but now villagers have taken ownership of cleaning and maintaining the facilities, making them a sustainable part of their lives. In Nepalese villages, more women are informed of reproductive health and receiving care — sometimes after years of suffering in silence. Topics are becoming less taboo, information and awareness are expanding, and people are receiving the full benefits our projects can provide.
Often, the best solutions are the ones that are the simplest — and the most cost-effective. This is certainly the case with Karuna-Shechen’s sponsored street theater, where small donations from people around the world work together to make a dramatic impact on the living conditions and quality of life in under-served Himalayan villages.
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...