Return to Nomad Life

Tibetan nomads, or Drokpa, are the heart and soul of Tibetan culture and have been living their holistic lifestyle, moving their heads of Yak from pasture to pasture in harmony with nature and the seasons, for millennia. Sadly in recent decades they have been encouraged, coerced or forced to move to bleak resettlement villages near roads or on the edges of towns.

Some drokpa welcom this move, to be nearer schools and medical facilities and older people often find the houses more comfortable than a black yak wool tent. However, many, many nomads regret the move to a settled life where they are unable to keep their herd of yak, and so have no marketable skills, and no income or focus for their lives. They miss the peace, the freedom and the self-sufficiency of their traditional way of living. Sadly, in many cases, poverty and crime are the outcome of the re-settlement policy.

In partnership with a respected Larma, Heart of Asia has begun a pilot project, funding starter herds of Dri (female Yak) for very poor drokna families who wish to return to nomad life. We aim to help two families every year - hopefully extending this aid to more families with your help. Each family is given 10 Dri (either pregnant or with a baby) to help get them started.

A Dri with baby cost around £480.

Yushu Earthquake Orphans

Heart of Asia has been supporting the Yushu earthquake Orphans, with funds towards their basic needs and care, since 2012. Wangdrak Rinpoche, responsible for Gebchak Nunnery, is taking care of 22 children orphaned by the devastating earthquake which struck Yushu (Tibetan: Jyekundo), and Yushu County, in eastern Tibet (southern Qinghai Province) in 2010. For the first two years after the earthquake the orphans, and local people, were still living in tents but now Rinpoche is renting an apartment where the children are housed. Our funds go towards improving this accommodation, and to fund food, clothes and education for the children, and Heart of Asia is now their main fancial supporter.

It cost approximately £1,200 a year to support each child.

To read more about the orphans that we are supporting and to see photos please go to:

The Love Family Orphans

Heart of Asia is helping to support an orphanage in Nangchen set up by Choga Rinpoche. Rinpoche prefers not to call it an Orphanage, instead referring to the small group of 12 children as The Love family. Unlike Wangdrak Rinpoche, who was responding to a disaster emergency, Choga Rinpoche set out to hand pick the children for his project and thought very carefully for some time in advance about how he would manage the children's home. The consequence is that the children seem very secure and there is a strong sense of a family bond.

The Love Family are cared for by Rinpoche's sister Tsepal, who lives with the children, and two of whom have already gone on to further study. The Love Family are well supported by a number of different funders and have a more stable financial outlook than Wangdrak Rinpoche's orphans.

TB Prevention in Eastern Tibet

Tuberculosis is widespread in Tibetan areas. At the request of Heart of Asia, two wonderful doctors from the UK, Professor Di Gibb of UCL and Emeritus Professor Dr. Anne Louise Kinmouth of Cambridge University, focused on the problem of stemming TB among young nuns at Gebchak nunnery in Nangchen county, eastern Tibet.

Due to the initiative and expertise these two wonderful volunteer doctors, we have been able to fund a fantastic TB awareness DVD that has now been dubbed in Lhasa dialect TIbetan by Tom and Ariel Gibb, using still images from the Doctor's visit and from H of A Director Diane, and is now widely used within Tibetan communities in western China (AKA eastern Tibet). The material is now available for viewing on SmartPhones, which dramatically increases its reach and use.

The DVD is also being used widely among exile communities outside Tibet, to some acclaim, so we are thrilled with the reach of this inexpensive initiative.


Heart of Asia India: Child Education

In 2010, inspired by the visit of some of our trustees to our toilet project area and at the request of village families, Heart of Asia began funding improved education for Vinod, Raksha, Rampal and Mahesh Mani, 4 poor but gifted children from Bheth Jhikli village. There is a school in the village but the standard of education is very poor.

We are committed to supporting these children until the end of their schooling. The cost for school fees, uniforms, transportation and equipment is very low at £275 per child per annum at present.

In 2012 Vinod, the eldest, completed his schooling with good grades and has gone on to study for a BA, and is also undertaking computer studies. 15 year old Tilkraj took his place. Sadly Raksha dropped out but the remaining children are doing well, are enthusiastic, and have grown in confidence.

Dzongsar Medical Emergency Fund

Heart of Asia continues to support an ongoing medical emergency fund of £2,000 per annum for Dzongsar/Meshu area in eastern Tibet, a fund we intitiated in 2007. The fund makes it possible for poor people needing immediate life saving treatment to reach a western style hospital, and pays for their treatment there.

The nearest hospital is 5 hours away by road in Derge. Some of the beneficiaries have travelled as far as Chengdu and even Beijing to receive treatment when necessary. The fund is administered by the Yuthok Yonden Gonpo Medical Association, our partners in Tibet, and they have the challenging task and responsibility of choosing the patients who will benefit.

Gebchak Nunnery Food and Health Care Fund

Heart of Asia has been donating a small amount every year towards Gebchak Nunnery's vital food and healthcare fund, since 2008. 400 nuns (many of them in retreat) live at Gebchak Gonpa, situated in a very remote part of Nangchen in eastern Tibet. Traditionally the nuns relied on donations of food from their nomad families, but due to the mass settling of nomads in recent years by the Chinese Government to distant villages and towns, food supplies have become a major problem for the nunnery. This has resulted in malnourishment and poor health, and little resistance to disease such as TB, which is endemic in Tibet.

Gebchak Gonpoa is Tibet's largest nunnery, dedicated to the preservation of a renowned yogic meditation tradition unique to women. To find out more about this wonderful Nunnery go to:

Heart of Asia India: Supportaloo

In 2009, at the request of the Indian people of Bheth Jhikli village (next to Tashi Jong, in northern India) Heart of Asia initiated a new project, funding the provision of Indian style toilets. In a village population of 3,500 we helped families who were below the poverty line and who could not afford to build their own toilets.

"At least 76% of all rural people in South Asia do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. The practice of open defecation by the majority of people in this region is one of the most serious environmental threats to public health."

From "Water and Sanitation Program − South Asia."

This highly successful project concluded in 2013 with a grand total of 99 completed toilets. Our grateful thanks to Rana and Raju, who administered this challenging project so magnificently. For a look at some of our loos please go to our Supportaloo Gallery page.

Safer Motherhood Training

In its early years Heart of Asia initiated and funded 2 intensive Safer Motherhood Courses at Dzongsar Menkhang, in Kham, eastern Tibet. Experienced UK trained midwives shared their knowledge with local volunteers from the Dzongsar/Meshu area and from Dru gu over a three week period.

Eventually this project was taken over by our trusted Tibetan midwife friend who wanted to dedicate herself to it. We continue to provide some support in this area via The Mother and Baby Emergency Fund.

Heart of Asia also funds the provision of simple birthpacks to pregnant women in the Rompatsa area of Kham, eastern Tibet.

Tibetan Herbal Medicine

Heart of Asia has supported the building of a Tibetan Herbal Medicine Clinic in Thopa County, TAR, at the request of the local people. From time to time we also support the training of Tibetan Herbal Doctors at Sichuan Provincial Tibetan School in Kangding (Tibetan: Dartsedo), and send funds to dedicated Tibetan Herbal Doctors to enable them to give free medicines to poor patients who are unable to pay for their treatment. We also fund the purchase of important Indian medical herbs traditionally used by Herbal Doctors in Tibet, and which cannot now be sourced in Tibet or China.

For many Tibetans in remote rural areas traditional Tibetan Herbal Medicine is front line health care. They can talk to a Doctor in their own language, the prepared medicines (made largely from herbs that grow in the area) are relatively inexpensive, and Tibetan Doctors traditionally give medicines free to their poorest patients.

Allopathic Health Workers

Heart of Asia has supported the training of 2 educated young men from Rompatsa area as allopathic Health Workers at Kamba University in Kangding (Tibetan: Dartsedo.) This one year course, costing £1,500, enables our graduates to teach small groups of volunteers in their area about basic healthcare, hygiene, nutrition, first aid, safer motherhood and sexual health, and also to monitor the health of local mothers and babies, and mums to be.

In 2010 Heart of Asia bought 400 of Kunde Foundation's "Basic Knowledge for Health" books for distribution in Kham. These simple books are written in Tibetan and illustrated with culturally appropriate drawings. There was a big demand for these books in some of the communities we help and we felt that they were a very economic way of improving health education in remote areas. Books were distributed in Yulong, Gebchak Nunnery, the Thopa County Clinic, Khampagar and Dru Gu.