Friday, March 20, 2009

Shem Women's Group

Here is a project so excrutiatingly "correct" that it makes my remaining tooth hurt, but you know what? I'm going to send them money anyway.

Shem Women's Group is the brainchild of an American schoolteacher who thought to "empower Tibetan women and their communities through grassroots development."

See what I mean about excrutiatingly correct?

However, this project is actually done quite well, and it seems to deliver the goods. They select ladies from various villages, and match these ladies as project managers to something they'd like to see get accomplished. It might be solar power, books for a school, clean water, monastery renovation, or what have you. I like the open-handed way they show you all the various receipts and documents, and how they provide a photographic record of every stage of the individual projects. So, apparently, do the embassies of several foreign nations, because this effort has attracted notice from the diplocrats in the region and they have actually ponied up: big forehead bumps to the German Embassy, British Embassy, and Royal Netherlands Embassy.

Having lived in China, I know how it goes when you try to get anything done -- sometimes you have to placate the greedy in order to help the needy -- so, in consequence, I am most favorably impressed by Shem Women's Group and their ability to run a clean show.

This is out in Qinghai Province, mind you. Give them a hand, and may the Spirit of the 'Sixties never die.

One teensy-weensy bit of advice... knock off giving the Tibetan ladies American names. (like "Jessica," above). It is culturally obnoxious, and Western ethnocentric. Tibetan cultural identity is already endangered enough by foreign encroachment, so don't grease the wheels. See where His Holiness recently said Tibetan culture is almost extinct? Take it to heart.

$8,221 was cheap from the German Embassy to fund women-administered Yak Loans in Golog, because they have some institutional 'splainin' to do. Consult photographs from the first German Embassy (ahem) "gender studies" foray to Golog, in the last century.

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