Nyima Under the Sun
Two years ago I embarked on a journey into the Himalayan mountains of Nepal that would profoundly shake my personal beliefs and be the beginning of a beautiful cross-culture family relationship. Accompanied by a small group of filmmakers, close friends and Nepali mountain guides, we spent a month in the country interviewing, documenting and setting the foundation for the film you see above. Over the past couple years, many trips have been made back to Nepal by parts of our original expedition crew of Scott Rogers, Cody Tuttle, Cherise Tuttle, David Porter, Suresh Nepali, Tenjing Sherpa, Phuri Sherpa and myself to make this film a reality.
Nyima is a modern day story of a low-caste Dalit family struggling to survive in the isolated Himalayan village of Samagaun. It examines the shifting cultural dynamics of a developing young girl, Nyima, who lives in a raw and unforgiving mountain environment. Pushed to the outskirts of her remote village, this intimate narrative is told through the curious mind of a young protagonist searching for answers about her identity as a human and Untouchable outcast member of society. The viewer will go on a beautiful cinematic journey examining the responsibilities and struggles of daily life for this unique Untouchable family, which lives in stark contrast to the first world experience. This film offers breathtaking scenery with a rich cultural lens focused on the greater social problems of the caste system in Nepal.
While every Dalit person is born into the social caste system with limited choice or chance toward radical self improvement, there exist a growing number of developing Nepalese communities whom are breaking free from the confines of their social oppression. As a younger generation gains better access toward greater social equality and more educational resources, many outdated cultural taboos and oppressive ideas of identity are shifting. The implications of these progressive younger communities are becoming the catalyst for a new Nepal shifting toward a brighter and more educated future.
As a group of adventure filmmakers, we want to continue our exploration of Nepal’s beautifully diverse culture and continue to produce impactful media on the subject. By studying the different ethnic groups affected by the institutionalized caste system we hope to draw greater global awareness to it and be a catalyst for social change. From the pristine mountains of the Himalayas, to the busy street life of Kathmandu, caste discrimination is an obvious part of the country’s rigid social hierarchy. Through access to better education for Untouchables and giving the silently oppressed populace a platform to speak, our media and fundraising efforts provoke powerful cultural reflection alongside real human support. We are personally invested in helping the wonderfully generous and authentic people who so kindly have shared their intimate stories, lives and strife with us.
Human rights; to see the change that is teetering on the edge of society come into fruition. We want to see each child, no matter their social standing have the opportunity to receive education so they can become influential and an integral part of their society.
Proceeds from this film will go towards creating a scholarship fund for Nyima, her siblings and other Untouchables in a similar situation who are unable to afford the costs of education. Your donated dollars will directly help cover the costs for post secondary education and living expenses. In the very remote regions of Nepal, there typically only exist primary schools as the height of organized education facilities. If children are fortunate enough to be presented with the opportunity and resources to further their education, they must typically move out of their home villages and into a city environment, such as Kathmandu or Pokhara. All living expenses and educational fees then rest on their shoulders, which severely limits the reality of low-caste young adults to continue any sort of reliable education and avenue toward a better future.
Approximately 70% of Untouchables in Nepal are therefore uneducated and below the poverty line, with many forced to work as indentured bond laborers. Currently there are nearly 5 million Dalit’s living in Nepal. The cost for Nyima to go to school is $100 per month, equivalent to what the average first world person might spend buying household groceries for a few days. They live in a single room stone hut at 12,500 feet above sea level and their entire monthly household income is less than $150 for a family of nine. If these children are able to receive access to better education, they will finally have a chance to shift their future outcome toward a more hopeful reality. It all begins with access to a better educational system, which is proven to steadily reduce oppressive socio-economic structures in developing countries like Nepal.
As of right now, we are in immediate need of financial support to help move Nyima and her family of 7 out of their current home in the high regions of the Himalaya to a more suitable environment in Pokhara, Nepal. Nyima’s father recently passed away which has left their family severely struggling to survive with no financial contributors. Nyima’s youngest sister, Rydar, also past away this last winter from pneumonia, as they live in a very unforgiving mountain environment. 100% of your contributions will go towards moving this Dalit family to Pokhara, where the children will be able to continue their education and the entire family will simulate into modern day living. Our annual cost for supporting this family is $5,000. As an expedition team we have pledged to continue supporting them for the next 5 years and hope to raise enough money through donations and sales from our film to not only help Nyima through her higher education, but also create an opportunity for other Dalit children to pursue their dreams.
If you feel moved by this story and are interested in donating any amount to this wonderful cause, please follow the link listed both below and at the top of the article. Namaste.