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Through the Eyes of Elders

 

As the people of Nepal struggle to rebuild their homes, their villages, and their livelihoods, one group has been largely left out of the global conversation… the elderly. Through the Eyes of the Elders gives voice to the people who, in their lifetimes, have witnessed significant change through the move toward modernity, the turmoil of war, great tragedy and now the overwhelming and inspiring task of rebuilding a nation after an earthquake. 

 

This project will capture the strength, wisdom, fears, hopes and humor of the remarkable elderly people of Nepal. It will offer a window into their special struggles, body of knowledge, and extraordinary resilience.

 

Our team will provide small digital cameras to a group of elderly Nepalis. We will train them to use photography to present the world as they see it through their own perspective. Working with local grassroots partners on the ground in Nepal, we will empower the elderly to tell their own stories and shine light on issues they care about, encourage self-determination, and demonstrate to a broad global audience the dignity and grace of this often neglected population. This program will engender confidence in older people to voice their concerns for the future and respectfully acknowledge their ways of being and observing the world. Fostering a platform for elders to express themselves is particularly important after the earthquake as the country remembers and rebuilds. Elders stories become even more crucial in preserving history, important traditions and memories that have otherwise been lost.

 

These photographs and stories will be displayed in photographic exhibits and events globally and on partner websites throughout the world. We will also produce a short documentary capturing the process, the photographs, and human connections.

 

We will work with village elders of Gatlang, Rasuwa District. A traditional Tamang village in northern Nepal near the Tibetan border, Gatlang suffered mass destruction during the April 25th earthquake. Nearly all homes were destroyed (200+), 4 elderly people were killed, food supplies and livestock (typically stored in the lower levels of homes) were decimated, and the lone access road was destroyed, cutting off the village from the rest of the world for over a month. In the rush to rebuild before monsoon season began, there was grave concern that their traditional housing style and way of life would be lost.  It is said that as a group, the Tamang people suffered more in this tragedy than any other ethnic group in Nepal. But despite the devastating losses, the noble spirit of the people of Nepal remains. Through the Eyes of the Elders aims to capture and honor this incredible culture and inspire people to envision a better future.