Trees For Tibet Success

After three years of close collaboration with the Tibetan Exile Government, the Himalayan Institute is proud to be fully transitioning management of the Trees for Tibet program to local leadership in the Tibetan settlements of South India. More than 25,000 pongamia trees have been planted in three communities thanks to the combined efforts of Tibetan farmers, local monasteries, and Himalayan Institute Members. Already, these trees are beginning to regenerate degraded land, promote rain-water harvesting, and will soon provide valuable biofuel and organic fertilizer to an entire community.

It all started 5 years ago when representatives of the Tibetan Exile Government visited our flagship humanitarian project in West Africa. They immediately recognized the potential for sustainable agriculture to revitalize overworked soil and to provide new sources of income for marginalized Tibetan farmers. In 2009 an official partnership began:

In Rabgayling Tibetan settlement near Mysore in South India, a 50-acre demonstration plot displays the energy farming crops which are available as seedlings from the adjoining nursery. At the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement, the careful attentions of Tibetan monks have resulted in some of the best pongamia survival and growth rates we’ve ever recorded. In Bylakuppe settlement, our main focus was on introducing herbal crops. A demonstration farm and training center there now holds workshops on the cultivation of medicinal and aromatic species, as well as distributing herbal seedlings to interested farmers.

Young monks tend trees at Tashi Lhunpo

In keeping with the Institute’s humanitarian mission of community empowerment, management of Trees for Tibet is being fully transferred to the hands of the local community who embraced this project three years ago. We’re confident these projects will continue to blossom under their care. Special thanks to all of the HI members who made this project a success.

As the Trees for Tibet campaign officially comes to a close, we invite you to learn more about our newest humanitarian campaign, The Center for Leadership at Himalayan Institute Cameroon in Africa.

Battle of the Bands to Support Trees for Tibet

In March of this year, three high school students from Dallas, Texas—JJ Echaniz, Kevin Chan, and David Chi—first learned about the Trees for Tibet project. Inspired by the simple yet powerful mission of planting trees in the Tibetan refugee settlements, the three put their heads together to try to figure out how they could support the cause. As a group of friends with lots of musical talent, they decided to form an organization that would utilize their musical skills and inspire more involvement from other people in their age group.

JJ and Kevin posing with the tickets that they designed and printed for the show.

“We founded SoundsOfSupport, a non-profit organization that strives to channel the talents of young local musicians into avenues that can truly benefit charitable causes, both on a local and international scale… Our first project is the Trees for Tibet Battle of the Bands on August 27 in Carrollton, Texas,” writes JJ.

The big event is this Saturday from 7-11:30pm at the Rock (2435 E Hebron Pkwy Carrollton, Texas 75010). Six bands will be preforming and the event is almost sold out! Whether you’re in Dallas or elsewhere, let’s show our support for these incredibly inspiring young men:

Plant a tree for Arbor Day

More than a tree

Plant a pongamia tree and help regenerate depleted soil, slow climate change and provide a renewable source of income for Tibetan refugees.

It is an American tradition each spring for schoolchildren to come home with a small pine or maple sapling to be planted in the yard in honor of Arbor Day.  If you were like me, you were lucky if your tree lasted for more than a year. That’s because growing trees is tough–it takes long-term care and commitment to nurture a tree from its tiny beginning.

To make a strong impact through reforestation, the Himalayan Institute has partnered with the Tibetan Government-in-exile in India to plant 100,000 trees in Tibetan refugee settlements. The Institute provides thorough education and support so that Tibetan farmers can bring the trees successfully from nursery to maturity.

This year, plant a tree that will make a lasting difference.

Meet Doje and learn more about the Trees For Tibet Campaign:

Our goal is to plant 100,000 trees by the end of 2012, one tree for each Tibetan refugee living in India. Help us reach our goal!

Trees from Dallas

The Trees For Tibet campaign has some major supporters in Dallas, Texas! Humanitarian team members John Daskovsky, Amanda Masters and Julio Davila recently visited yoga studios and youth groups in Dallas to promote Trees for Tibet and share some of their experiences doing volunteer work.

John and Amanda speak at Yoga Balance before teaching a donation yoga class.

Many thanks to all of the organizations that hosted us!

In total, these Dallas events raised $1,715—that’s 343 trees!!

Create your own event to support Trees For Tibet! We would love to assist you in fundraising or awareness events that you would like to host for these projects. From tea parties to book clubs to performances, the possibilities are endless. The Trees For Tibet campaign, in particular, is completely driven by on-the-ground efforts like these. Be a part of the solution! Contact our humanitarian projects team at 570-647-1527 or email us at

Raising Awareness in Buffalo

Last month, members of the HI Humanitarian team were honored to be invited to attend two major community events in Buffalo, NY to raise awareness about our rural development projects around the world.

The Himalayan Institute was represented at a booth at the 3rd annual Women’s Conference hosted by Buffalo For Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about human rights and poverty concerns in Africa. Keynote speaker Mariatu Kamara, a survivor of the war in Sierra Leone, shared her story and break-out sessions focused on women’s empowerment practices. HI was on hand to tell people about the work we do in Cameroon, particularly the Sacred Link Jewelry program which empowers women through micro-enterprise.

After packing up the booth at Buffalo For Africa, the team headed to a second event, Trimania, a multi-floor celebration of art, music and culture held every 3 years. 3,500 people were expected to attend this year. Joanna Angie, executive director of the Buffalo Arts Studio and cofounder of Trimania, invited HI to be present at the event in order to spread the word about our work in Cameroon, India and Mexico, which the Buffalo Arts Studio helps to sponsor.

Videos introducing viewers to HI's rural empowerment programs played throughout the night.

Help Africa Move Forward merchandise and artisan crafts from Cameroon were popular with the art lovers attending Trimania. All sales return directly to the projects in Cameroon.

Two women admire the handiwork of Sacred Link Jewelry technicians.

In addition to merchandise sales and donations collected at the HI booth, proceeds from bottled water sales during the evening will come to the Himalayan Institute to support construction of more wells and to plant trees! Support generated at Trimania 2008 enabled HI Cameroon to install two wells in the community which are now active and making an impact in rural Cameroon!

What is a clean glass of water worth to you?

It was a long day, but well worth it to have formed meaningful connections, raised funds which will go directly to plant trees in the Tibetan settlements and to build more wells in Cameroon and Mexico, and to have met new friends that are also dedicated to improving the lives of people all over the world!

Humanitarian projects team members striking a pose before Trimania begins: Chelsea Abella, Jeff Abella, John Daskovsky, and Amanda Masters.

Special thanks to the Buffalo Arts Studio for their continued support of the Himalayan Institute’s humanitarian projects and for their dedication to the arts and education in their own local community!

“Think globally, act locally.” We would love to assist you in fundraising or awareness events that you would like to host for these projects. From tea parties to book clubs to performances, the possibilities are endless. The Trees For Tibet campaign, in particular, is completely driven by on-the-ground efforts like these. Be a part of the solution! Contact our humanitarian projects team at 570-647-1527 or email us at