This statue of Tara, the Goddess of Compassion, sits in my back yard in Maui. Whenever I am there, I start my day by drinking a double espresso with Tara, to think about all the people in the world who have more difficult lives and what we can do to help them.
I started Tara’s Kids to help young children in poor villages who do not have the books or writing materials they need to read and write. We have done work in primary schools in the U.S., in China, in Tibet. For our first project, we to built a library in Llasa, Tibet for a special school for disabled orphans with the aid of a group of my University students from the China Agricultural University.
We are also working in a primary school for migrant worker children. and we are beginning to work in schools in North Korea. We bring books, writing materials, school clothing, shoes, and give small scholarships to help families pay for school fees.
Our first library was established in an orphanage for handicapped children in Tibet. A group of student volunteers from the Agricultural University in Beijing selected and packed the books and then carried them personally on the 47 hours train ride to Tibet so that they would not have to spend any of the money on shipping.The students paid their own train fares and slept on the floor of the school in sleeping bags for a month to stay with the children in the orphanage for a month, setting up the library and spending time teaching the children.
After spending a month with the students, the children and the students were very sad to say goodbye.
We build the library, materials and scholarships and paid for the entire trip for less than $5,000, including $50 scholarships for the children’s families to cover school fees for an entire year.
At the end of the trip I met with the students who did made the trip and did all the work. I asked them 2 questions. What did your parents think about your idea of taking an entire summer and paying your own expenses for a project so far away? (“Our parents are very proud.”) and did do you want to do all the work including 6 months of physical training for working at Tibet’s high altitude, 2 47 hour train rides and a month sleeping on a wooden floor? (Maggie, one of the students replied “we just want the children to know that someone loves them.)
Clearly, you do not have to ask me why I feel privileged to work with these wonderful young people.
Note: Tara, the inspiration for our work, is the goddess of compassion. She was born of the petals of a lotus blossom that grew out of the lake of tears the Buddha shed when he saw the troubles of mankind. She holds her hands in front of her heart in a position (mudra) known as dharmachakra, which indicates teaching. Her thumb and middle finger touch, which indicates compassion for the suffering of others. To Hindu and Buddhist followers, she is an antidote to ignorance and delusion.
Up to this point we have paid for all the projects out of our own resources and feel grateful for being able to do it. Many friends, however, have asked if they can help in future projects. If you would like to learn more about Tara’s Kids and how you can help please send an email to Elizabeth at: TarasKids@rutledgecapital.com.
There is no minimum. There are no administrative expenses (I will pay all of them). I would welcome you to join us in our work.