I am excited to unveil my new “Sacred Earth” and “Gaia” Collections, inspired by the beautiful people of Nepal and the majestic landscape. Feel good knowing that 5% of sales from these collections during the month of July will be donated to two remarkable organizations that I personally support, Bridges Between and a direct relief fund run by my friend Karma Sherpa. Both of these organizations work in the same small villages in the Khumbu region of Nepal, so the money donated is direct and visible in action, and I have personally worked with these organizations and lived in these villages during my trip in 2012.
The recent earthquakes in the Himalayas struck while I was in Bali designing my newest collection. A shock felt around the world, this tragedy was made even more real for me for I am deeply connected to Nepal after my trip in 2012 where I helped Bridges Between support a community high in the Himalayas.
Earthy and grounding, I combined rich, green, earthy materials thinking about the beautiful landscape of Nepal, and the kind people who live there. The Sacred Earth & Gaia collection feature Tibetan Turquoise, Chrysoprase, Green Onyx, Agate, Amazonite, and Pearls combined with leather, silver and gold.
During my trip to Nepal in 2012, I joined my dear friend Brooke Paparo and her organization Bridges Between in the village of Cchulemu and the Taksindu Buddhist Monastery in the Khumbu region. Bridges Between was founded with the mission to provide rural Nepalese women with adult literacy education (including reading, writing and basic math), to serve the families of rural Nepal with safe schoolhouses that provide the literacy classes, as well as teach English and computer classes for the children and adults who would otherwise not have this opportunity to communicate and interact with the outside world.
During my visit I saw firsthand that these school houses had become far more than a place for women to learn how to read and write, but actual community centers where the whole family would gather in the evening to learn and grow skills they would otherwise never experience. In addition to education, Bridges Between has ensured sustainability by introducing green technology, including a solar greenhouse and a “cold storage” building that creates natural refrigeration that is not dependent on electricity to keep food fresh. I was honored to participate in building the cold storage facility and also sharing in the delight and excitement of the opening of a 2nd Bridges Between school (there are now 4 schools.)
After speaking with Brooke and Karma in the last few days about what is happening with the Bridges Between schools and the communities they serve, it is clear that the focus and priorities have shifted to not only creating sustainable shelter for these people who have lost everything, but also creating support to the individuals who are suffering from the trauma of these earthquakes and aftershocks.
Karma responded immediately after the earthquake, sending food, supplies, temporary shelter and medicine to his home village and surrounding communities. Now he is spearheading a rebuilding effort that will include rebuilding the dorm at the Buddhist monastery of Taksindu that houses 50 children, homes in the Cchulemu village, as well as the regional schoolhouse. He is gathering funds now for a big push to stabilize and rebuild in October (during the dry season) to prepare for the coming winter.
Meanwhile, Bridges Between is focusing on offering support to the hearts and minds of the affected families. They are calling this "Celebration of Community" where they sit down to listen to the villagers, and focus efforts based on the local needs expressed. This is in-line with the schools and community centers that have already been built and serve the whole family as a safe place to gather, share, and learn together. Although one Bridges Between school was completely destroyed by landslides, the school in Cchulemu continues to operate with only moderate damage.
I am happy that these organizations exist, and I am proud to contribute to them in any way I can. I believe deeply there is something powerful about enabling a community to help itself and determine its own future, instead of telling people "what they need"....and I am confident the funds raised will support this effort. Thank you for your support of Nepal and her beautiful people during the month of July...I hope you will join me!