PayPal has been the most efficient and easiest way people have found to contribute.
Contributions of ANY amount are gratefully accepted.
If the link does not work for you, you can go to PayPal and send to firstname.lastname@example.org – That same email can be used for any questions you might have.
For what has the money been used?
All money that has been received has been used for film related expenses and/or put directly into the hands of people in need in Nepal (depending on if it was pre or post-earthquakes).
Have you used any of your own money?
Yes, far more than we ever should have. Thus is the way of things when your heart goes sprinting ahead of you towards people in need. You end up playing perpetual catch up.
Why was the film on hiatus?
Even with the earthquakes (beginning in April of 2015, and continuing into May), we thought we could, both, help the Nepali people with immediate needs and finish the film. We soon found that was not the case. We had to choose. The immediate needs of those who had lost homes, businesses, and loved ones took precedent.
What is taking so long?
Funds and life being life are the easy answers. The more complex answers would be better served over a nice dinner with good wine. Preferably, somewhere we could show you footage you have not yet seen.
If you could go back to the beginning, what would you do differently?
We would have found someone else to come on board to handle the money aspect. Neither of us are motivated by money. We are both better suited for creating and for helping people, both of which are easier done with funding. There is a reason why it is called a necessary evil.
What do you look forward to most with this project?
The sharing of laughter. Even though there are many heavy aspects to the situation, when we have sat down and shown people footage, it is the moments on film that have induced laughter that have been the most rewarding.
Contributions of ANY amount are gratefully accepted.
With the end of the year quickly approaching, the rush of getting things done can seem overwhelming. Oftentimes, the last thing on our mind is the tax season still a few months away. However, a few minutes of your time now can benefit not only you when that tax time comes, but can help people in Nepal and the Karma Documentary film project now.
We have been sponsored by a non-profit organization, which means that any money you donate can be used towards your tax deductions in the spring. Whether it is you or your company that has the ability to make donations this holiday season, a letter can be sent to you that you can keep with your records for your taxes.
Some companies (for instance, Microsoft), will match your donations, so ask your employer if this is an option you can utilize, as well.
When hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal lost their homes and businesses, the world stepped in briefly for immediate help. Now, months later, they are still struggling to piece back their lives and their communities.
Help us to help them, and to help tell their stories.
We appreciate any help you can give, and we hope your holidays are filled with warmth, love, and good tidings.
Contributions of ANY amount are gratefully accepted.
As we try to keep our wits about us during this busy time of year, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Social media to the rescue! I wanted to take a moment to give a friendly reminder that today is “Giving Tuesday”and reminds us of the Giving Season.
We have received all manners of help from people all over the world to get to where we are with the film. Yet, we still are not at the top of our climb. As you think about where to make your donations this Giving Tuesday, and throughout the season, please consider contributing to the Karma Documentary.
Your donation will support the people of Nepal and help them recover from the devastating earthquakes. Together, we will tell their stories and encourage the return of tourists. It has been a slow recovery so far. Fall is usually the busiest tourism season in Nepal, and the numbers this year are far below what is needed for many Nepalis to get by in good years. Help us turn that around.
Thank you, Happy Holidays, Happy Giving Tuesday, and Namaste!
Contributions of ANY amount are gratefully accepted.
The filmmakers, Luke and Christen, behind the Karma Documentary are coming out from behind the screen to spend an evening with you. They will be talking about the filming process and their experiences in Nepal, sharing photography and behind-the-scenes footage, and getting to know you over some adult beverages.
Do not get lost on your couch spending another night in front of your screen when you can come be part of the process in person.
We look forward to seeing you. Come alone or invite people to join you. This is a welcoming and inclusive gathering.
Friday, November 20th, 2015
St. Andrews Bar & Grill (7pm-1am)
7406 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, Washington 98103
Visit: The number one thing you can do to help Nepal is to travel to see it for yourself. So much of what is needed in Nepal revolves around influxes of tourism. Almost every way of life in Nepal is affected by the ups and downs of tourism. This is not in the budget for all people, so…
Donate: Even small donations help us work towards getting out their story with the film and to send money to the individuals and families we know it will benefit most. If you have checked your coffee fund, your rainy day fund, and even scoured the couch cushions and there is nothing to be found that you can spare…
Share: Help get this out in your networks, where it can reach other people that can help.
If we all do what we can when we can do it, we are all part of the movement to make our world a better place.
Contributions of ANY amount are gratefully accepted.
Join Luke on June 18th in Boulder, CO, for an evening of beverages, beautiful imagery, stories, and discussion around the filming of the Karma Documentary and how the earthquakes in Nepal have affected the lives of those we met, and the telling of their stories as we move forward.
Neptune Mountaineering – 8pm
633 S Broadway St Suite A, Boulder, Colorado 80305
Supporting the cause:
-You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:
How do you know when travel impacts you deeply? Which journeys give you the most powerful memories? These thoughts have been bouncing around my mind furiously since I returned from Nepal. Nepal left a deep imprint. Every time I ask myself why, the answer is simple. The people.
I met Ashok Bhujel, a young Nepali man in his early twenties, one day as I returned to my guesthouse in Changu Narayan. He helped with all sorts of daily chores around the guesthouse. He greeted me with a warm smile, and open arms. I could not even begin to have a want before he would anticipate it and help me out.
I got to know Ashok better over the next three weeks. He is a dreamer. Whether he was inviting me to sit with his friends and trade songs on his guitar, or teaching me about the political, educational, and economic struggles of younger Nepali generations, Ashok dwells on the possibilities, not the barriers.
I have been keeping touch with Ashok occasionally. It was his messages to me a couple weeks ago that both gave me great relief that he was ok and sadness for his upcoming struggles. Ashok, like so many in Nepal, has lost everything – his home and his job – due to the earthquakes. He has a new wife, Nena. Together, they were starting their life together in Kathmandu when the earthquakes struck. Rather than relay his story to you, here are his own words from our recent conversations. I asked him to tell his story, so I could share it with you.
“Okay Luke Iet me start. Well I was working in starview and she had a singingbowl healing centre in Bhaktapur Dattariya. One day I took one of my costumer to her centre and then I meet her. Her name is Nena Nepali.
She is very good as a person. So I liked her at first sight. I took her visiting card and then slowly we came close. Well she is a town girl and I belong to village. She had lots of big dreams like to be a big successful business girl…”
“And one day she took me to her home I met her parents. They had a small shop too. Her parents and her 3 yrs old brother all are very nice people. After that slowly I talk about her with my parents. They want to meet her too.
Then I took her my village. My village is 150 km away from Kathmandu. It’s a rural place, completely a small village. I hope u can imagine. She was so afraid while we were on bus coz it feels like we r riding on elephant. It makes me laugh remembering her face on bus in that day. After that my parents liked her. So after that we fix the date and get married. Then I got job doing Thanka paintings.”
“But I didn’t have still home to stay. So I was sitting. With her parents. Life was going slowly okay u know but now my sweet home in village is no more. My family is staying under tent. I don’t even know. Do they getting foods or not. My wife shop is also gone and with that all her hard work and dreams too.
Seeing around how and what earthquake brought to our normal life still today we cannot sleep well. Thinking about how to start all when it’s gonna be normal like before my heartache tears rolls down. What to do how to do? I don’t have any idea. In one side I think about Nena and in another about my parents. She is a elder child of her parents and I must also. We both are feeling helpless brother. But still haven’t giveup our hope.”
***You can donate through PayPal here:
Ashok and Nena are some of the many people in Nepal that will receive help from the donations you make to our GoFundMe fundraiser. Please contribute today.
The news has been horrific. Many of us have seen the images and videos of the destruction in Nepal as the country shook repeatedly over the last several weeks. The wonders of an interconnected world bring the heartbreaking losses into all of our lives.
Yet, I am struck by how different this disaster feels to me than the others that have come in recent times. The difference is, of course, that the people hit this time are my friends. I do not say this to take away from the many people who endured the horrors of the tsunamis in Japan or Thailand, the earthquake in Haiti, or any other natural disaster. I say this, because I hope that in sharing the stories of my friends in Nepal, you too will be touched by their humanity and help them.
This is the first of many posts I will be making where I will tell the stories of my Nepali friends pertaining to the earthquakes. While it has been difficult to wake up every morning to countless messages from Nepal recounting the tragedy (13 hour time difference), it is nothing compared to the challenges that they face every day. In a country where life was difficult before, the earthquakes have taken everything from many.
One of my friends who has asked for help is Suman. I smile every time I think about the first time I met him. I had just strolled through the temple complex in Changu Narayan, a 4-th century village in the hills outside Kathmandu, and was meeting my travel companions at the little open-air restaurant just outside the temple gate. As I was walking up the stairs leading to the elevated pavilion, I was greeted by the warm smile and boundless energy that Suman is never without.
Suman explained that he would be our waiter and chef. It turns out, this 22-year old runs the entire restaurant by himself in addition to managing the small wheat, rice, and potato fields his family relies on for food. He supports his mother, father, and three younger siblings. He learned to cook while working in restaurants in India before returning home to work at the restaurant at a small guest house in Changu. Did I mention he can cook? Suman made, without a doubt, my favorite chicken dishes in Nepal.
As we got to know Suman more, he invited us into the community to experience their culture like we were family. Whether he was bringing us to the evening Puja (prayer session that is mostly a musical jam session by a local family of musicians) or taking us on picnics, Suman made us feel at home.
A great honor came one day when Suman invited all of us to accompany him on a 3-hour hike into the hills to attend the village’s annual festival to honor the hindu gods Ganesh and Vishnu. We were treated to a traditional ceremonial goat sacrifice that culminated in a delicious roasted goat feast. As we were walking back to Changu in the golden sunset over Kathmandu valley, we learned that we were the first visitors to attend this ceremony.
The messages I received from Suman in the days following the earthquakes were heartbreaking. Like many people in Changu Narayan, Suman and his family lost everything. His family’s home was destroyed. The restaurant he worked at is gone. He has no income, and he is the sole provider for his family. They are now sleeping under a tarp at the village’s Bus Park. Suman tells me that it would cost $3000-$5000 to build a new basic mud home for his family. Considering that his salary was about $35 per month before the earthquake eliminated his job, he has no way to pay for it.
In the midst of all of this tragedy, there is a positive note. Suman just got married May 8th. Amid all of the loss and destruction, a glimmer of happiness still shines through.
Suman is one of the many people in Nepal that will receive help from the donations you make to our GoFundMe fundraiser. Please contribute today.
Have any of you been feeling like “Okay! We get it! You hiked some [censored] mountains! Can we move on now?!!” Because I have been feeling that way for a long while. I am so ready for the next adventure, you have no idea.
I am not accustomed to talking about what I am doing in public. Even after a year of doing this, I still do not like it. I like my privacy. A lot. I prefer that the only part of my personal life that surfaces in public is the photography I decide to share. There have been many times over the course of this last year that I have reminded myself of the people of Nepal for whom I am doing this. Most often, it is the children that run through my mind.
I have lived with the people we met in Nepal in my heart and in my head for over a year now. With approximately 200 hours of footage and all of the photography captured, they are living breathing people in front of me every day. They make me smile and laugh and they pull me through when I get worn out from the long hours and no pay. Yes, okay, maybe we let our hearts get ahead of our finances when we agreed to do this film project. (There have been so many meals of cheap tacos or food made in the toaster this year.) Who knew it cost so much to do this?! Certainly not I. But, then, I did not even know I could not hike in jeans. (I know, I know, thank goodness I did not die.)
Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world. The goal of the Karma Documentary was to move beyond empathy for their struggles and to support them in their desire to empower themselves, so they can work towards providing for their own communities with their own profits. I have never regretted starting on this project, not even when I was hanging upside down in a rabbit trap [chuckle], and where I grew up you finish what you start. We were just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, when…
On April 25th, 2015, the earthquakes began, the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal in over 80 years. Thousands of people died, and hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless. It was centered around where we stayed for my time after the trek. Most of the homes and businesses of the people we came to know in that village (as well as throughout Kathmandu Valley and beyond), were destroyed. The aftershocks continued to hit them for days to come.
We had no idea what to do. My first thought was, “How can I get there?” (I know, but when I know people that are hurting, it is always my first thought.) It quickly sank in that my going there would do nothing to help and only take away from their resources. Besides, knowing the people we know there, they would turn around and be trying to take care of me, rather than the other way around. Instead, we just sat here feeling helpless, watched the death toll climb, and held our breaths while we waited for the people we know to check in as safe. 4,000 dead. Now over 5,000 dead. Believed to be over 6,000 dead. They finally settled on over 8,000 dead and more than 19,000 injured.
It never occurred to me during those first days that we would continue making the film. I just kept seeing the people I knew in my mind and picturing them now living on the streets outside of their collapsed homes, and feeling lost as to how to help them. It was not until it was made very clear to us from many different directions that, not only did we need to finish the film, but that now it was even more important to their long term recovery that we finish it. It was not until this was pounded into my head repeatedly, that I could even bring myself to watch actual footage from the earthquake.
Just when I had finally gotten my head wrapped around the importance of continuing with the film, because they still want and need their stories to be told, May 12th, 2015 arrived. Another earthquake, almost as big as the first, hit Nepal. This time its center was where we had been trekking. There is no one that I met during my time in Nepal that has not been affected by the earthquakes.
We have started a campaign to raise 125K to accomplish both the completion of the film and immediate relief for people in the communities we know, because we know how to get the money directly into the hands of those communities. We do not have to wonder if we gave it to the right organization. (Seriously, how do companies working in disaster relief profit so greatly? Nevermind. That is a rant for another day. Focusing on what is important right now.)
When visiting another place, it is common for us to project our own version of ‘familiar’ onto our new surroundings. We fall prey to our own rituals and tendancies, inadvertently drowning out little cultural discoveries along the way. Whether that takes the form of frequenting western style restaurants, hotels, or bars while in an exotic city like Kathmandu, or seeking an espresso or cup of coffee in the morning in lieu of milk-tea, the results are the same. Countless little cultural treasures with the power to grow our insights about life can be missed. The chance to find our similarities through examining our differences is stifled.
I was thinking about my own morning coffee, gulped down moments ago, as I hurried out of the guest house to meet my new friend, Balkrishna. I was supposed to meet this complex and intriguing fellow for tea in his shop, where I was to interview him about tourism in his idyllic 4th-century village, Changu Narayan. I chuckled at my obvious addiction to coffee. Although I had been in Nepal for over a month, I still had not fully embraced coffee’s more gentile cousin. I gladly took the warm milky cup of tea from Balkrishna when he greeted me, however. I was beginning to come around.
After starting the cameras and beginning our interview, I was struggling with trying to tap into Balkrishna’s personal perspectives. As he enthusiastically and thoroughly explained the geography, history, and cultural high points of Nepal, I puzzled over why my normal questions were not on target. His answers were interesting to me, but I wanted to learn how tourism touches modern Nepali’s daily lives.
A couple of things finally dawned on me. First, Balkrishna was telling me what he thought I wanted to hear, because I had not given him the opening to speak on a personal level about his life’s devotion. As someone who has worked in tourism for over 20 years, he grew accustomed to answering the typical questions of tourists – for example, “How old is Changu?”, “What Caste are you?”, “What religions do Nepalis practice?”, “What is your favorite (fill in the blank)?” His depth of knowledge of typical ‘tourist’ information would impress any travel guide editor, but it was his experience with the daily grind of trying to support his family, grow his business, and build his community that I wanted to hear. The second realization I had was that Christen was right. Balkrishna is a gold mine of information about the inner workings of the tourism industry in Changu Narayan, and in many other places all over the country of Nepal.
“Balkrishna, I am interested in learning more about tourism from the Nepali’s perspectives. How do average Nepali people view tourism?” With that question, his eyes lit up. Just as I saw a great opportunity to learn more about these generous and kind people, Balkrishna saw an opportunity to tell his own story on a larger stage.
As Balkrishna started to explain the depths to which tourism has impacted life in Nepal, I started to realize the size of my task for the first time. It is one thing to hear that tourism is the second largest source of income in Nepal, behind foreign remittances (money sent back into the country by Nepali Ex-Pats abroad), it is another to visit person after person whose livelihood relies upon tourism. Once he realized the mission of our film, to tell the story of tourism from Nepali’s perspectives, Balkrishna’s mind went into overdrive, planning out the next four weeks of filming. “We need to go visit the sand quarry, where they are digging sand for hotel construction projects, and the chicken farm that supplies many restaurants, and the pashmina factory, and the silver smith, and the blacksmith, and the tourism college, and the….” The list went on, and on, and on.
Once again, I learned the value of shedding the Western-bred desire to control the agenda of the film. Over the next month, Balkrishna would be my guide, interpreter, production manager, teacher, and friend. Christen was right. She encouraged me to let go of my rituals and tendencies and let Balkrishna guide the story. The stories that he and I lived together, and the footage we captured are the proof. We look forward to sharing more of it with you!
In this clip below, residents of the 4th-century village of Changu Narayan, Nepal go about their jobs supporting tourism.
Please consider donating to the film. Any and all contributions make a difference. Sincerely, no amount is too small, as we need to raise $25,000 just for this stage of the project (and approximately $75,000 in total), and every dollar counts. (Either through the Paypal link or send to Luke Mislinski Photography at