2017: Emaho embarks on a regional water project to test the safety of the water in Rinpoche's Tehor region of Eastern Tibet.
Read about our work here, and go to the Photo Gallery to see photos of our expedition.
The building of ZaChoeje Rinpoche's new monastery, Tashi Gaden Chopeling, is historically significant and awe inspiring. It's a work of love, spiritual attentiveness and exceptional beauty: every aspect is being created by hand.
Rinpoche is bringing useful Western technology to villages in his Tehor region of Eastern Tibet. This long-range community planning, now underway, will allow the exploitation of global technology without sacrificing the unique Tibetan culture that is currently on the verge of extinction. Mindfully merging the two worlds is master work.
Water is one of the cornerstones to any project in any location on earth. The water that supports the numerous villages has never been tested. It's an assumption that water flowing from the roof of the world is crystal clear, but no one knew. Rinpoche asked us to figure out how to test the water and explore the logistics of getting it done.
He wants facts to ensure that the water sources and containment storages meet world health standards.
We found mWater, an organization that sends professional teams around the world to test water. mWater is a non-profit headquartered in New York. They use technology and data to address gaps in infrastructure. mWater works primarily with local authorities to strengthen water and sanitation services. The organization aims to create sustainable, stand-alone, capacity-building measures that allow children to survive childhood and communities to lead healthy and productive lives. Since China still rigidly controls Tibet, we felt it best for Emaho to learn what needed to be learned and we headed out solo, leaving minimal footprints.
mWater has created intelligent user-friendly tests. We gather samples of water that then incubate in a portable lab.
23 to 48 hours after taking samples, we discover the nature of the water tested. Using the Word Health Organization's high standards, mWater created two tests. The first one tests water safety for washing, the second tests water safety for drinking.
We left for Tibet in June 2017. Suitcases loaded with test kits, we sailed surprisingly effortlessly through Los Angeles security and Chinese customs, on to Shanghai and Chengdu. An 18-hour car ride, an overnight in Garnze, and, 7 hours later, we arrived at the monastery. It was worth every delay, bump, and pothole to be back in a place that feels like home.
With two monks and our test equipment, we headed out each day. We wanted to test the source from where the water villages get water, as well as test stations along the route, finishing at the last water containment storage site.
We started out in the old monastery ca deepr, where villagers lent us motorcycles, and when the altitude diminished their engine power we'd walk or ride horses. We tested water being used by nomads in their high summer camps. We walked across swiftly moving knee-deep ice streams. Some of the water sources were miles up beautiful, steep, watch-your-step mountain switchbacks. The highest we tested was at about 19,000 feel, a slow cautious climb in the rain and mud.
We tested 57 individual water sites within 400 square miles of the monastery: a total of 114 tests.
Yaks, antelope, horses, snow leopards, fox, wolves, marmots, birds, among them the Cockcoo that migrates but interestedly only sings in Tibet, and an abundance of other sentient life busy themselves around water. Even on the highest slopes we found some water not compliant with WHO's standards for human consumption.
Water is always changing its composition in relation to the seasons, environmental impacts and a host of other ever-changing scenarios. Now we're armed with a scientific snapshot in time. Monks will continue monitoring the water, creating a management overview for any sanitary risks. We'll research to find solutions to correct hot spots and ways to sustain consistently safe water.
An additional plan for Rinpoche's region is to install green toilets. We're beginning to research what is the most cost-effective way to build them. By cost effective we mean we're looking for the bottom-line cheapest method for building green toilets; toilets that will be sustainable in the bitter winters and high altitude. We're looking for plans so we can build on site from materials we get in and carry from China.
The monks will continue implementing this progressive project regionwide. If you have any useful information. please pass it along.
Early 2013: We are extremely pleased to report that ground has been broken for the new ZaGonsar Chopeling temple in Rinpoche’s Tehor, Tibet region. The generosity of donations from people like you have given the local people tools and materials to start building the new monastery foundation. Traditionally Tibet’s bitter winter keeps people indoors, but enthused men and women are out daily working on the project that symbolizes the first step in Rinpoche’s 25-year plan to bring sustainability to the community while preserving its precious culture.
During Rinpoche's 2005 visit to TIbet a group of nuns asked for his guidance and patronage to support their sangha. Rinpoche was impressed by the dedication and perseverence shown by this group of women in their efforts to uphold the monastic tradition with such limited resources.
Rinpoche asked the surrounding community to help to construct a proper temple and residences for the nuns to live and practice together.
Recent reports stated that the main temple was nearly complete. Emaho has pledged to help provide resources so that this extraordinary group of women can continue to practice together.
During Rinpoche's visit to Tibet he made a huge impact on the families of that region. He saw that enrollment in the local school was very low and that the children were in need of supplies.
Rinpoche recommended that all families make a strong effort to enroll their children in school. As a result school enrollment jumped more than 200 percent.
Rinpoche also provided uniforms for some of the children and started a lunch program with a promise to provide more resources so that children could go to school and stay there the entire day.