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Wonderful Perfect: Interview with Gesar Fund’s Nyima Kunga

Nyima Kunga, Gesar Fund board member

by Maarten Regtien, editor of the dutch Drala Magazine

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!

Nomad child, photo courtesy of the Gesar Fund

“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:
http://shambhalatimes.org/2011/09/03/gesar-fund-supports-surmang-area/

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7 responses to “ Wonderful Perfect: Interview with Gesar Fund’s Nyima Kunga ”
  1. L.S.

    The Gesar Fund also has its website in english, go to http://www.gesarfund.nl/eng/

  2. Linda V. Lewis
    Sep 8, 2011
    Reply

    It is wonderful to read this article! I was Anna and Wilhelm’s teacher for a year at Vidya School and Boulder. I have heard vicariously about their lives since, as I love to keep up with former students. Nyima’s article is great!–such bodhisattvic activity! I am so happy for Anna and Nyima! Bravo! And Anna’s parents, Ineke and Han, must be so proud!

  3. The “Gesar Fund General Store” project evolved out of the “Poverty Relevation” project and “2011 Checking our Aid.”

    Gesar Fund’s Nyima Kunga had a meeting with locals and ‘nearby’ nomads of the village of Dönda. They were asked to investigate how they could develop projects themselves which would improve their life standards. The Gesar Fund could support these projects with micro credits.

    The problem regarding these projects however was that the poorest often are in poor health or are fysically or mentally handicapped, often are illiterate and thus not have the skills to start a small business.

    Concluded was that for the best option was to start a ‘general store’ where all kinds of elementary supplies can be sold. The goods would be cheaper and better in quality than sold by the most of shops in the area.

    The first results:
    1) the town meeting elected a trustable storekeeper.
    2) the local administration will puchase there necessities from the ‘Gesar General Store’, and
    3) the Gesar Fund transeferred 12.000 euro for the shop, which hass been painted and furnished
    4) Meannwhile the complete inventary and goods are on the way to Dönda by truck.

  4. The Geasr Fund General Store is Alive !!!

    The Gesar Fund transeferred 12.000 euro for the shop, which hass been painted and furnished

    See our website for the first photo’s or search oon FaceBook for The Gesar Fund Page.

    BTW: regarding FaceBook: become a Friend!

  5. Update 18-10-2011:

    The General Store allready opens at 6 am as than the continental bus from Yushu to Xining passes by. This has contributed to a staggering first week sales amount of 12.000 Yuan (~1400 euro) !

  6. Update 07-11-2011:

    In October 2011 the grand opening of the Gesar Fund General Store in Dönda (Yushu Prefecture) was celebrated. The opening was attended by local officials and many locals and of course the by Gesar Fund General Store supported poor families! This project is based on the Minicredit Formula: instead of ‘free’ supplying food and other necessities, the profit made in the shop will be used to support the poorest families, which have been appointed by the Gesar Fund earlier this year.

    We expect that in two years from now we’ll have a totally self-supporting store. This is not such a bad expectation as the store is located next to a police station where all regional busses and trucks are obliged to stop. As the continental bus from Yushu to Xining arrives at 6 am the store then already is open! Another strong point of the store is the quality of the goods. Quality is not taken for granted! Good quality flowers, tsampa, beverages, coal, yakdung en kitchen utensils in this vast region only are available at our store! And the news is spreading!

    There also is a sowing machine in the store. When there are no customers the storekeeper doubles as seamster to sow clothes.

    Each week the Gesar Fund checks practical and financial matters. In the first week after the opening sold for a staggering 12.000 Yuan (~1900 dollar)!

    On behalf of the Gesar Fund Board,
    Maarten Regtien

  7. On 18-12-2011 (NOT 18-11-2011) the Amsterdam Sangha has organized a Children’s Day (Kinderdag).

    All children will donate some of their savings to the Gesar Fund with the aim to making it possible to send a nomad child in Surmang to go to school for an entire year!

    A fantastic initiative!


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