TARA FOUNDATION USA
How it all began
In 2007 TARA FOUNDATION USA was formed by Leeli Bonney to enable fundraising for a variety of projects, mainly in the Khumbu and Solukhumbu regions of eastern Nepal. Village committees and schools request help from the Foundation and the local Associate Directors, Chhongba Sherpa and Khari Tulku Tenzin Yonten, guide the Board in the selection of projects. The Nepali Directors organize and supervise the work which is done by the villagers, whenever possible.
What originally began in 1999 as a trip to Nepal to hike in a new part of the world evolved quickly for Leeli into a commitment to work to improve the lives of people living in the Himalaya and to help to preserve their traditional culture. The initial project that brought 23 fleece jackets to children that first year continued as the “Himalayan Children’s Project,” and more than 3,000 jackets have gone from school children here to school children there, “sharing the warmth.”
Nepal is a small country about the size of Wisconsin with a population of 27 million people. It is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Nepal is landlocked, bounded by Tibet to the north and India to the south. The enormous peaks of the Himalayan Mountains form the border with Tibet. This region is drier and colder than the south, limiting the farmers’ crops to staple foods: potatoes, barley and wheat.
Tara Foundation focuses on helping in the northern part of the Sagamatha region of eastern Nepal. There are no roads, so everyone and everything still must travel on foot most of the time. The country is 80% Hindu, but in this mountainous region Buddhism is prevalent and evident in the villages as trekkers and climbers pass through.