Zanskar is one of the most remote places on the planet. Inaccessibility and isolation have protected it from cultural change and today it is one of the last places on Earth where original Tibetan Buddhist way of life still exists. His Holiness the Dalai Lama believes that Zanskar can become the cradle of the Tibetan Buddhist culture, and that the only way to preserve it is to educate the children and support the very few schools in the region.
Children of Zanskar is a photography project centred around the youngest inhabitants of the remote and idyllic valley of Lingshed.
The book will help raise funds for the local school and the 115 schoolchildren attending it. In this rapidly changing world, the survival of their endangered culture lies in their very hands and we wish to raise awareness about them and, through images of them, assist them in helping themselves and strengthen their chances for a good future.
The cultures of the Himalaya suffered a great loss during recent disasters in Nepal, and their true fragility in the modern world has been exposed. We believe it is essential to help preserve the intangible heritage of the Himalayas and assure its continuing transmission. Our book, its message and its ultimate goal are our little contribution in that direction.
The best part about this Kickstarter campaign is that you can get the photography book AND help the children, who belong to one of the last traditional Tibetan Buddhist societies in the Himalayas. In return for your support we promise you to deliver one of the most beautiful fine art books you have ever seen, printed on high-grade photography paper and bound in canvas.
Our minimum pledge is to produce 1000 copies of the book. We will use all the money raised via KICKSTARTER on production of the book and marketing (book launch, exhibition, book fairs). ALL the future proceeds generated from the book sales and print sales will go to help the children of Lingshed. Thus the more money we raise through KICKSTARTER the more books we can produce and the more help we will be able to give to our dear little friends in Zanskar.
Last year we travelled to the remote valley of Lingshed, which lies at 4.000 metres above sea in the Ladakh and Zanskar regions of the Indian Himalayas. It can only be reached by a 4-day trek over high mountain passes and is almost completely isolated from the outside world between November and May, when the mountain passes freeze.
There we met one of the last remaining traditional Tibetan Buddhist communities. We were deeply touched by the generous hospitality and warmth of those people. We helped at the local school and spent some time teaching and interacting with the young inhabitants of the valley, quickly realising how precious and precarious is their simple happiness—overshadowed by poor material conditions and uncertain future, but also lighted by the beauty of the local culture and traditional way of life.
Cusped within a ring of imposing mountains, the children of Lingshed roam, sharing their laughter with a handful of visitors from the distant, 'civilised' west; visitors who come a long way to marvel at the beauty and simplicity of life in this small Himalayan valley, so reminiscent of the mythical Shangri-La.
Children shout with joy "Juley" and "Good evening madame" whilst giggling to the world. Always clothed in woollen hats and baggy jumpers, they have uncomfortably adapted to the extreme climate of Lingshed that is only a few miles away from the second coldest place on earth—Dras.
The children of Lingshed posses a deep yearning for knowledge. Each morning they gather around on the assembly square, and after the morning prayer and exercises, they spend another few hours on reading classes, often sitting unprotected in the burning sun—but never complaining. The walls and floors of the centralised school, attended by children from many surrounding villages, lay bare for the most part, creating clouds of dust and posing a significant health hazard. But the classes continue and the children are joyfully engaged in learning despite these seemingly hard conditions. Theirs is that natural kind of joy which reminds one that happiness is not in things, it’s in us.
Back here, in the 'civilised' west, it is easy to forget this.
In the nearby Tibet, Sikkim and in large parts of Ladakh, Tibetan culture is dying. But in Lingshed, it's still very much alive - and the children are the key to its survival. The valley's geographical isolation contributed to the preservation of its native language, religion and traditional way of life, and it is all the more important that its youngest inhabitants have enough food and warm clothing to pursue their education and cultivate its rich traditions, while adapting to the rapidly changing world.
So while we were in the valley, we made a promise to return and help our little friends. After spending many days with them and speaking to local officials, teachers and the headmaster, we made a comprehensive list of all the most essential things which they need.
We need to raise money in order to:
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