Our priorities sometimes seem as sure and solid as the ground. We wash the dishes. We pay the bills. We go to work, school. Then something happens to really shake things up.
On the morning of April 14, 2010, an earthquake struck a remote area of Tibet. The damage was catastrophic. Some kids didn’t make it to school. Some who were already there didn’t make it out alive.
Hours later here in the U.S., reports and news links were shared furiously via email and phone calls. That place halfway around the world made powerful emotional aftershocks. Tibet Girls School, a small but hearty place dedicated to educating and empowering Nomad girls, was leveled. The community here in Evanston that created and supported the school tossed their priorities and tears aside to immediately activate a plan to raise money and awareness.
Since the project began in 2008, I’ve been working with Asang and Nancy Floy, founders and leaders of Tsogyaling Meditation Center, the 501(c)3 organization that runs the school. I designed the logo, created the website and developed materials for their exhibits, events and more. Yet beyond the intrinsic connection I feel through my work, my friendships with Asang, Nancy and many Tsogyaling/Tibet Girls School board members made this tragedy deeply personal.
The news was no longer just a series of sad stories somewhere else with abstract political and economic implications. This time, my friends had lost nephews and nieces. Collecting money didn’t mean just sending a check to some giant agency with hope that some small amount actually helps a real person. This time, our time and money will benefit these girls and their families directly. Through their grief, Asang and Nancy are working with officials and lawyers to expedite their travel visas so that they can get to Tibet, helping the girls and seeing family in person.
Not surprisingly, this experience puts many things into perspective. Beyond my gratitude for being alive and my compassion for the pain and sorrow of the earthquake victims, I am pleased to see how my work can be so meaningful. My priorities that Wednesday morning became writing and circulating a press release, updating the web site and putting an online donation system in place. Within hours, our team connected with media and benefactors resulting in television, radio and print exposure. Donations to help topped $5,000 in just days and efforts continue as plans to rebuild a strong new school to educate more girls and young women emerges.
Donations are still needed and can be made at www.evanstonmeditation.org. Many thanks to all for your support.