Linked with Mountain Spirit MS.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “I believe that it is important to contribute to the root of a tree for good fruits”.
She says also: “Appreciative Inquiry changed me. It has become a part of my life, my family, and everything I do. Once I started to say things positively, life has become comfortable and easy” … and: , “You must not only teach how to catch fish, but you must do things. You must act!”
Chhing Lamu Sherpa – Nepal
Read: ‘ … on PRA and Participation in Nepal‘, 52 p., March 24, 2000.
For the past two decades, Chhing Lamu Sherpa (born 1960) has played a pivotal role in empowering women and extremely marginalized groups in eastern Nepal. As an educated professional woman working to improve the lives of poor and deprived mountain communities, she is a role model for other members of Nepal’s Sherpa community, an ethnic minority living off the rural mountainous areas, often as expedition guides. She had to face ridicule when she started to go to school – Sherpa was an “old” 17 years of age.
This education postponement was prompted by her engaged sister’s paralysis, and Chhing, who was only nine years old at the time, took her place in the home. Schooling became impossible. Chhing fought her relatives and her community against a traditional engagement to her sister’s fiancé, eventually managing to convince them that she should be allowed to lead her own life. Putting in a lot of hard work, she was able to obtain her school-leaving certificate at 23.
The determination that took Chhing to her first village school in Phinjoling village in Udaipur district of eastern Nepal also helped her make a success of her life. Not only was this farmer’s daughter the first girl in her village to complete high school; she also went to college and earned a graduate diploma in Rural Extension and Women from Reading University in the United Kingdom.
Today, Chhing is a role model for her village’s schoolchildren, not only for her relative erudition but also for supporting her brothers and sisters through their education. Most of all, she is lauded for the work she does with mountain rural communities like her own. For two decades now, she has worked at the village and district levels in the remote areas of northeastern Nepal, including transboundary work in the China autonomous region (Tibet) and India (Yuksam village in west Sikkim), helping groom young people for leadership roles and training them in conflict mitigation, strengthening institutions, environment management, and gender and ethnic sensitivity.
Her forte is the use of participatory and appreciative enquiry approaches in program design and program implementation in situations of conflict mitigation. She has used her expertise through several networks, including forums for indigenous people, Chhing associations, and NGOs.
Chhing’s own life experiences drew her towards working for the empowerment of rural women and children. She started out as a junior instructor in a government’s women’s training center in 1982, training women workers and traveling from village to village to advise housewives on how to manage their kitchen gardens. Five years later, she joined Action Aid Nepal AAN as a senior community organizer and gender development coordinator, working with the organization for five years. As part of her job, Chhing lived in the homes of members of various communities to better understand what made the communities tick. She ended up drawing attention to the disparities between the so-called lower- and upper-castes, and initiated group action to correct the dissimilitude. She was often drafted to deal with social conflict situations.
Chhing left AAN and joined the Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Project because she wanted to learn about environment and conservation issues, and contribute her social development skills to the management of the park. She rallied local women around the conservation and development of the area. Today, local groups play a vital role in conservation, along with the marketing of Allo, a traditional type of cloth, in Kathmandu. It wasn’t too long ago that these very same groups were loath to even consider conservation.
Chhing’s experiences working in the park bordered on the surreal. She would sometimes get lost in the forests, with lots of lichens and no food for company. She remembers going on 20-day field trips with her colleagues, punctuated with little or no breathers. She intervened in community disputes, once managing to persuade two groups, Christian and Buddhist, to bury their hatchets and built a pit toilet together.
In 1994, the young men of the area, especially Sherpas, motivated her to form Mountain Spirit, an organization for the uplift of the young. She helped mobilize about 2000 community members and 75 youths to work as trainers, of whom 20 have become national-level trainers. Seven years later, Chhing transferred Mountain Spirit’s leadership to the youth she had enlisted.
Since 2004, she has been employed by Plan Nepal, a non-political and non-governmental child-centered community development organization, as a district program manager. Initially criticized for traveling with male colleagues, she has today been honored by organizations like the Nepal Sherpa Association for her contribution to the social sector. She continues to give moral support as an adviser.
In 1996, the US Ambassador to Nepal, impressed by Chhing’s work with Makalu-Barun, invited her to the US to speak to women’s groups about her work. Chhing is also a member of many social and peace-building forums in Nepal. She was a board member of Tewa, a philanthropic organization for women. She has contributed to SAGUN (Search for Harmony), a national NGO working for community empowerment. And, finally she is a founder-member of the Nepal Participatory Action Network, and has
served on its board. (Read all on 1000peacewomen 2005).
It is this commitment to approaching difficult development issues through appreciation and participation that led her to be nominated for the highest recognition of human compassion—the Nobel Peace Prize. She represents passion and compassion, thought and action, leadership and humility. She reflects the inherent strengths of the Nepalese people: their appreciation for all that is beautiful and good and their nature of tolerance.(full text).
Read: A TRAINING HANDBOOK FOR DEVELOPMENT PROFESSIONALS.