December 5 2019

Two decades of Impact

20 years ago, Matthieu Ricard decided to use his share of the proceeds from his best-selling book The Monk and the Philosopher to undertake humanitarian projects in the Himalayan region. Inspired by Rabjam Rinpoche, the Abbot of Shechen Monastery, in fulfillment of the vision of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and of the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Karuna-Shechen was born!

With a vision rooted in altruism and a focus on engaging in compassionate action, Karuna-Shechen brought together benefactors and volunteers from around the world to help build a fairer, more humane world. Working within remote and under-served communities, we set out to reduce suffering, improve equality, and offer our beneficiaries the opportunity to live healthy, empowered lives so that they may reach their full potential.

Within a few short years, our projects were already making a significant, sustainable impact by utilizing community participation, women’s empowerment, and the preservation of local resources and culture to respond to the specific needs and aspirations of those we served.

The Karuna girl – a symbol of our purpose

In 2005, while visiting a remote region in Eastern Tibet to assess our progress and to identify new projects, Matthieu Ricard walked into a dark kitchen and spotted a little girl near the hearth.

“Her face was so pure, her hair all tangled up, her eyes at once laughing yet serious, her direct gaze and smile, showing no signs of shyness, lit up the room.”

Drouk-kar Tsho and her beautiful smile represented many children, and the hope in her eyes were a symbol of the potential held within each of the people in need throughout the Himalayas. The image of this young girl became the welcoming image on our website, brochures, and posters, representing our humanitarian vision of providing access to health, education, and opportunities — especially for girls and women.

20 years of humanitarian action

Many years have passed since the start of our work, yet our vision remains unchanged. It is rooted in altruism, based on the active participation of rural communities, respectful of cultural heritage, and dedicated to preserving local natural resources. Our aim is to develop projects that can be sustained by the villagers themselves, independent of external help.

Through our projects, we focus mainly on five key areas that collectively reduce suffering and improve well-being:

  • Community Development. We improve living conditions and strengthen communities, without creating dependence on external assistance.
  • Health. Our essential health services save lives, increase well-being, and enable marginalized people to live in dignity and in good health.
  • Education. We provide children and adults in remote communities access to quality education and prevent school dropout, especially for girls.
  • Opportunities for Women. We promote equality by providing rural women with access to basic education, training, and job opportunities.
  • Emergency response. We help villagers prepare for emergency situations and when needed, we provide essential emergency response to those in need.
Two decades of impact

Since the beginning, we have helped hundreds of thousands of children and their families in over a hundred remote, under-served villages. Each and every person in need that we have helped through health care, education, empowerment, and training, has worked together to advance our goal and fulfill our continuing vision of building a better world.

Thank you for joining us on our journey and supporting our altruistic projects. As each of us contributes what we can to benefit others, we are collectively creating a culture of compassion and fulfilling Karuna-Shechen’s purpose. Your generosity makes this beautiful work possible. Thank you for your support!

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