Wonderful Perfect: Interview with Gesar Fund’s Nyima Kunga
Nyima Kunga, from Chindu, Tibet, is a board member of the Gesar Fund. Each year in the summer he, his wife and son travel to Tibet, not only to reunite with family, but also to check on whether the Gesar Fund donations are being spent properly. In this interview, Nyima tells us how he became involved with the Gesar Fund. “I think it is Karma, really,” he says. He also explains how he personally experiences being back in his poverty-stricken homeland with the multitude of health problems, illiteracy and devastation since the April 2010 earthquake.
“I met Anna, the daughter of Gesar Fund founders Ineke and Acharya Han de Wit, even before the Gesar Fund existed. She was working for the Surmang Foundation as a volunteer in a clinic in Surmang. I worked there too as a Tibetan interpreter. We got married and went to live in Xining (China, ed.). But that was too much of a city life: we lived there one year, but hardly spoke to our neighbors. So we decided to live in Holland, and that was some five years ago. But to return to the Gesar Fund: I did not know Ineke was Anna’s mother when she approached me to work for the Gesar Fund. It was a strange coincidence. I think it is Karma, really.
“This year we went to Kham in July, in the middle of the raining season. We were there for about four weeks. Amongst others, I went to Khanda to check what food had arrived, what the status of the construction of new houses was, as well as going for a few days along with the doctors who take care of the Gesar Fund hepatitis project. Regularly, when possible, I phoned Ineke and Han with updates and they were posted on our Gesar Fund website and our Facebook Page.
“Many people ask me what the personal impact is in returning to my homeland which they know is so poverty stricken and has so many medical problems. To them my answer is often surprising: ‘Poverty is not important.’ By this I mean that sharing a happy life is what is truly important. Really, when I go back I hardly think about poverty, it doesn’t even go through my mind. Anna and I currently live in an apartment in Holland, and in comparison to my parents’ house it is ‘wonderful perfect’. It is warm and there is a not-leaking roof. When you live in Tibet and the roof is leaking, it might be a discomfort, but more important are the people you live together with under that leaking roof!“The Gesar Fund is very important in doing good things, but for me it is more important that we are learning good things. For example, during my trip in Tibet I worry a lot: I have to do a lot of things, go here, go there, talk here with officials, talk there with officials, and worry if all our plans and ideas will work out. But when I see the results, I feel this work is an opportunity in my life from which I can learn. It is like meditation in action. I see this in a direct relationship to the people who donate money to our foundation: they do make a difference and they also perform meditation in action by donating.
“As far as I know from the people who donate to the Gesar Fund, some 90% are related to the Shambhala community, and they donate a lot. But they have never been in Tibet, of course. Their only connection is via their teacher who was born there. What they apparently learned from his teachings is compassion and a sense of sharing. I think Shambhalians have a lot to share. That is different, and it does make a difference. When, for example, I talk to another group of people about one of the projects we do, they think and say, ‘Well, this, and that, and is it really going to happen?’ They are confused. It is my experience that people connected to Shambhala experience the same feelings as I do when I see the devastation of the earthquake, or the people living in tents, or the monks receiving the vaccination. I call this this sharing a ‘Beautiful Mind’. And I see so much power in it. It is so positive: the Beautiful Mind is so rich!”
In 2000, Ineke de Wit founded a fundraising organization in order to help the people in Surmang, a region in Kham, where the monasteries of Trungpa Rinpoche resided. For many years, this foundation successfully fundraised substantial amounts of money for health care in the region. After several years the area where the Foundation had access to had increased to the entire region of Kham. Also the scope of projects carried out was broadened from health care to education and alleviation of poverty. To underline this change of scope, a new name was chosen in the spirit of the Shambhala Buddhist tradition: on December 1, 2008 the Gesar Fund was born.
Read more about the Gesar Fund’s recent activities: