Emma Slade, a Buddhist Nun, came to tell us about the charity 'Opening Your Heart To Bhutan' at our lunch meeting today.
Bhutan is a mountainous, landlocked country in central Asia. Because of this, its rural communities can struggle to get access to specialist medical care and other much-needed services. Many people in the rural areas live on less than $1 a day; it is estimated that one-third of children there suffer from basic malnutrition.
Opening Your Heart to Bhutan is a UK-based charity which brings children with special needs "joy and the opportunity to build meaningful lives". Emma, who is CEO of the charity, has had a remarkable life: educated at Cambridge, she was a high flyer in finance before becoming a nun. She is a yoga and meditation teacher and also an author. Now she travels to Bhutan to assess needs on-the-ground and support locals. She is also known as Ani Pema Deki.
The charity provides access to medical care and other basic amenities in the isolated rural areas of East Bhutan. It believes in "education as a means of empowerment" and has supported enhancement of infrastructure - e.g. the digging of sewage systems, building of hostels and improvement of facilities at Draktsho, a vocational training centre in Tashigang. No one is paid to run the charity, and costs are kept to a bare minimum "to maximise funds going directly to those most in need".
Emma gave a very interesting talk and proved to be both an inspiring and committed person.
If you wish to know more about Opening Your Heart To Bhutan, click here.
Picture: Emma Slade, talking to our members about the charity. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury.