Goodwill Ambassadors of the Asha Project to visit Nepal

The Friends of the Asha Project team joined forces to take a “Global Action”, in January of 2016. Through the help of the Rotary Club of Branchburg and the Friends of Nepal-NJ, The Asha Project was able to raise funds to help many schools in Nepal to restore their buildings, purchase supplies, make technology upgrades, and provide a water supply.

Since 2015, after the major earthquake, we have planned four Humanitarian missions to Nepal and send two groups of Rotaract students to help the earthquake victims.

2018 Team members

Now, we are working with local schools to raise funds to build a school in Nepal and give opportunities for our students to learn about 21st-century life and career skills as well as to engage as active citizens in a dynamic global society and to successfully meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st-century global village.

A tour to Nepal is always exciting, as you can have so many things to explore in this tiny country. You can immerse in the century-old temples in the medieval city squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur; experience the breathtaking views of the Himalayas in a trekking tour to Annapurna  or other spectacular mountains in the Himalaya region. For wildlife and environmental lovers, exciting jungle safari at Chitwan National Park and their eco system is perfectly cut out, while a tour to Buddha’s birth place, Lumbini to learn about Buddha’s life and the development of Buddhism is an exciting venture.

Our 2019 Humanitarian Mission team of 6 will visit Kathmandu, Patan, Pokhara, Gorkha and Lumgung.  They will work in collaboration with Rotary District 3292’s Rotaract team and with their SAP projects.

If you like to support this 2019 Humanitarian Mission team members with school supplies, blanket distribution and others,  You can make a donation to our GOFundMe page.  or you can donate with the Asha Project.

With your SUPPORT, we can make lives better in our community and around the world. Please give the GIFT of HOPE today and together we can keep Doing Good in the World.

Supporting our Veterans


BRANCHBURG — Rotary club of Branchburg teamed-up again to support veterans by donating $70.000 to seven different Veterans organizations.
It’s become our tradition, for the past several years, Rotary club of Branchburg have collaborated with various Veterans organizations in support of the nation’s veterans. It’s our way to say “thank you” to our vets for providing the freedom we enjoy.
With surviving veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, it continues, along with thousands more who served in the Middle East and in other conflicts, there are literally thousands of veterans in the United States, too many of whom have fallen on hard times since their return to civilian life.

Branchburg Rotary Donates$70,000  to Veterans organizations during their annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Service of Gratitude.


“There are many challenges facing our veterans when they return from active duty,” notes Joe Horner, Veterans Program chair.

Branchburg Cub Scout troop 135


“Examples are readjusting to civilian life and returning to the workforce. Sadly, many of the jobs they held before leaving to serve their country are no longer available, which makes the prospects of finding meaningful work more difficult than ever,” he points out.
“To help in this time of need, Rotary club of Branchburg, our community, and many other Veterans Service organizations wanted to make a positive difference in their lives as one small way to show our gratitude for the sacrifices these heroes have made on behalf of all Americans.”
For out-of-work veterans, food, shelter and clothing are often quite difficult to come by, particularly when it comes to seasonal items, such as winter coats and jackets. That was the motivation that launched the initial collection drive several years ago.


“Support for this worthy cause has grown each year,” says Joe. “Many people came together with timely donations to show how much we care about our veterans.”


The Rotary club of Branchburg was founded in 1988, has been doing many community service project. Rotary just celebrated its 30th anniversary. This year Rotary club of Branchburg raised more than $100,000 to help local veterans and the club distributed more than $71,000 dollars to seven different veterans organizations who helps veterans directly during their 17th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Service of Gratitude. The Veterans organizations are Operation ChillOut, Operation Sisterhood, Frontline Arts, Operation Jersey Care, Welcome Home Vets, NJ Veterans Network and Horses for Forces.


Rotary International is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and works to build peace and goodwill in the world.
Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 34,200 clubs across the globe.

Representative from the Horses for Forces. 

MHA PUJA (Self Worshiping) A Newari tradition.

As part of a unique old tradition, ethnic Newar community in New Jersey celebrated Mha Puja or the self worshiping on Saturday, November 10th.
Mha puja, (Body worship) the worship of the inner self, is a unique tradition of the Newari community of Nepal. Newa people believe that one needs to understand and respect oneself before he/she can understand others. Mha puja (is purification, strengthening, empowering the soul and understanding of oneself). Mha puja exposes the relationship of a person with the surrounding nature and the cosmos. Mha Puja, which is marked annually during the Kathmandu’s second biggest festival Tihar. The day is celebrated as a part of celebrations of their New Year called Nepal Sambat as per the lunar calendar.

DSC_2195A

During the festival, family members gather and sit on the floor and worship their bodies with a belief that it will purify the body, mind and soul for enlightenment. They use the elements like flowers, fruits, oil lamps, nuts and sweets to worship after creating a colorful Mandala, circle of life.


Manda (Mandala) is an essential part of Mha puja celebration. First the floor is purified by sprinkling holy water. Next Mandalas are created on the floor in front of the row of seats for each family member. The total number of Mandalas exceeds the number of people in the household by three. One at the top of the line, which is usually smaller in size and separate from the rest, is for the House-God. This is followed by one for each and every member of the household and two additional ones at the end that are at right angles to the main row. The last two Mandalas are for the ever-watching Yamaraj and Jamaraj, the ambassadors of Death who are always ready to take sinners to hell.

 


Oil marks last longer just as Itah (oiled strand of strings) burns longer. Circles signify completeness. On the top of the oil rings a beautiful and artistic geometrical shape which constitutes the core of the Mandala, is created. The markings are done in yellow Potaye (yellow mustard powder). On the outside is a large ring enclosing a smaller one within which two squares are overlapped to form eight triangular shapes. Abhir (vermilion powder) is spread along the various Potaye lines. A handful of paddy and rice mixture is placed on each of the four triangles along the north-south and east-west lines with respect to the worshiper (worshiped) and one at the center of the Mandala.

 


Next comes the very important offer of light. Two Itaa (hand-woven cotton strands soaked in oil) about two and a half feet long, are lighted at each end and offered to the worshiped who accepts by chanting in Sanskrit – “Swah prakashah mahatejo sarbapatti bidapaham. Sabhayabhyamtaram jyoti deepoyam pratigrihyatam.” Newars use Sanskrit words during the worship. The light is accepted to enhance one’s inner supreme brightness and to drive away any possible problems. The blessing is for the person to be able to keep shining bright like the burning Itaa for a long, long time. The four lighted ends occupy the locations of the four outer paddy/rice lumps in the Mandala. Soaking of Itaa with mustard oil makes it last longer. The lights are kept on through the completion of the whole Mha puja process. Light, which is considered as one of the five elements used to create the universe (the other four are air, water, earth, and sky), has a special meaning in worships. The offer of light spiritually brightens the inner self, makes it more powerful and keeps anything evil at bay.

 

Sagun is another very important part of Mha Puja. Offering of Swaga (Sagun) to a person is usually made to to a person for their extraordinary and meaningful achievement. Dhau Swaga on the forehead unveils the shining and cheerful face enjoying a great celebration. Next comes the all important Khen (egg) Sagan. Khen Sagan constitutes the offering of Nyata (the five elements of egg, fish, Rakshi, bada and meat).. Nyata (five) signifies the five elements of water, fire, earth, air and space.

 


The final purification of the soul and the blessings come from the Naki (female head of the community) with a pouring of a mixture of paddy, flowers, pieces of fruits, abhir (vermilion powder), aakhen (hand-milled rice) and taye in a Patthi (bronze container about a gallon size). All during the puja, the light keep burning, the incense keeps spreading fragrance and the colorful Mandalas keep cheering the mood. Completion of Mha puja is achieved after the Naki drags tuphi (broom) from House-God’s Mandala all the way down to Jamaraj’s Mandala.

Shilpy Malla, a Hillsborough resident attended the event with her husband and young son. “This is my first time to experience such unique celebration with FONNJ family. I feel lucky to celebrate this special Mha Puja with my family,” Malla said.


The participants also enjoyed homemade special dishes like Sanya Khuna, PauuKwa, MeeKwa, Sisa pusha, special sweets, Pukula and Thou (special brewed liquor, popular among Newar community). Young kids prepared Masala pow (dreid fruits and sweets) and helped to prepare Mandala – circle of life.

“The main purpose of this event was to teach our young generation about our culture and tradition”, said, FONNJ Vice President Roshan Karmacharya.
Surendra Man Singh, said, “We are very rich in culture and tradition thus the participation of young generation in such rituals strengthen the ties between community and culture of birth. It is an integral part of culture preservation.”

Group Picture. 

Empowering Women in Nepal through MicroCredit.

Our past programs have proven that one small loan can change a family.  Several loans can strengthen a community and Thousands of small loans can transform an entire Village.

 
With the Rotary International’s $95,000 matching grant, Rotary club of Branchburg and Rotary club of Mahabouddha in Nepal, is changing many peoples lives in Nepal.  With a small $500 loan can buy a new tool, a machine, or a shop in the marketplace—millions of the world’s poor and low-income people have taken advantage of small loans to improve their lives. Over the past three decades, people have used these loans, known as Micro Credit, to launch new enterprises, create jobs and help economies to flourish. Poor people have proved time and again that they are able to repay these loans on time.

 
What is it? 
The Asha Project’s Micro Credit program is founded on a novel idea that education and financial support, not charity, provides the surest way out of poverty for poor families, Rotary Districts 7510 USA and 3292 Nepal in collaboration with the Friends of Nepal- NJ established the
“Legacy of Hope Micro Credit Project” to provide Nepal earthquake victims with $100,000 worth of micro credit loans. As a result, these people will gain knowledge and a source of income for themselves and their families.
 
The micro credit project has been empowering and providing hope for hundreds of people in Nepal to take control of their lives, improve their family’s standard of living and provide what every family wants for their children — hope for a brighter future through better nutrition, health care and most importantly education.
Our Rotary clubs are working on various ways to alleviate local poverty, one of which is to provide loans for disadvantaged people. Micro loans are powerful instruments for reducing poverty by enabling people to increase income and reduce their vulnerability to economic stress. Micro loans are also a powerful catalyst for empowering women.
 
For the past ten years our project  has helped to provide loans to more than 500 families.  The Branchburg Rotary is providing real hope and opportunity for a better future for the people of Nepal.  If you like to learn more about the project, please contact Past District Governor Dr. Tulsi Maharjan at trmaharjan@gmail.com  

2019 Humanitarian Mission to Nepal.

Each February volunteers visit Nepal to work, meet the students and learn more about people and culture. Humanitarian work can include visiting orphanage, interacting with students and working with our existing projects in Nepal. Next year’s trip will be Feb 10-26, 2019. Interested contact trm7510@gmail.com.

Thank you for providing HOPE & OPPORTUNITIES

Dear Friends of the Asha Project,

When the earthquake hit Nepal in April of 2015, many lives were affected. Not only did people lose their homes, businesses, and livelihoods – many people lost their families. This is what happened with three sisters we helped. After their father passed away, their mother left them because they did not have male family member. The earthquake destroyed their home, and these three courageous sisters were left with nowhere to live, no family, and a community in ruins. When we heard of this story, we at The Asha Project decided to do something about it.

With the help of the local Rotary organization and individuals like you, we raised the money to finance and provide manpower to build a new home for them. We also gave them 8 goats, which gave them the opportunity to make a continual income.

They are now able to live in a secure home and have a renewed hope for their future. Successful projects like this drive us to do more for the people of Nepal!

You can help us bring hope to the people of Nepal! Your support is crucial to our mission, and we could not do it without the help from our caring community.

Nearly 4 years after the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April of 2015, there is still so much work that needs to be done. Homes still need to be rebuilt, communities are left without school houses, and many families are left without hope. While we are actively working on projects to provide the poor people of Nepal with education, safe homes, and opportunities for them to build continual income with our micro credit project, we need your help to make our efforts go even further!

You can be the change this world so desperately needs. Your gift greatly contributes to the foundation that these families need to truly live to their full potential. Please, take the step and make a lasting impact with a small donation of $50.

By not buying one cup of coffee a week, the contribution you can make to The Asha Project can provide a whole year’s worth of school supplies, the fees and uniform costs for a child to attend school, or the means to help families provide continual income for years to come. Please be a part of our mission with your generous monthly donation of $5, $10, or any other amount you are able.

Here are the ways you can make a donation:
— Visit our website at http://www.theashaproject.org/donate/
— Call us at 908-369-4318
— Send a check to:
The Asha Project
P.O. Box 5015
Somerville, NJ 08876

It is amazing how a short, four letter word can represent so much. Asha means hope, and that is our purpose.

I would like to personally thank you for being a part of that. Your donation will certainly go a long way towards giving hope and opportunities to the children and families of Nepal! Thank you, for your contribution.

Sincerely,

Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan
Chair, The Asha Project

P.S. For more information about our projects, and to find other ways to get involved, please visit http://www.TheAshaProject.org. There, you will find student and volunteer stories, photos of our humanitarian trips to Nepal, and detailed information about our mission to provide hope and opportunities.

“You Must Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.”

“You Must Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.” MAHATMA GANDHI
“Changing the world begins with the very personal process of changing yourself, the only place you can begin is where you are, and the only time you can begin is always now.” ~ Gary Zukav ~

INTERNATIONAL PEACE DAY
&
INTERFAITH PEACE PRAYERS
When: Sunday, Sep 23
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Where: NJ Buddhist Vihara
4299 RT 27, Princeton, NJ

People of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to express their commitment to peace and compassion during the 8th annual Peace Days Festival, which this  takes place on Sunday, September 23.

People of many world’s faith traditions will gather again this year on September 23 to express their hopes for peace and share their spirituality with each other in friendship and solidarity, as brothers and sisters. The day’s program includes lighting candles- symbolically representing the world’s diverse spiritual traditions; offering peace prayers from a wide range of sacred texts; music, songs, chanting, meditation, yoga, flag ceremony and children’s activities. We invite people of all faiths together to invoke the spirit of peace, celebrate unity, and rekindle the light of our common inner truth.

COME JOIN US TO CELEBRATE!
For more information please visit: http://www.sccdiversity.com
Email: trm7510@gmail.com or advanim@gmail.com

Program Sponsored by:
Rotary International District 7475, Princeton Visionary Lions Club, Rotary Club of Branchburg, Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition, NJ Buddhist Vihara and Friends of Nepal-NJ.

Branchburg Rotary helps youth experience the world

Abby, Emily and Lauren recently returned home after a two week in Nepal.

It was an eye-opening experience for the RVCC Rotaract members.

“I think the best part about my exchange was being able to see the world from other perspectives and making global friendships,” Lauren says of his Rotaract Youth Exchange experience.

All students were sponsored by Branchburg Rotary Club and The Asha Project. While in Nepal, the youths participated in various activities and programs. They had opportunity to learn and interact with Rotaract members from Nepal.  Rotary Exchange Student is also a young ambassador, sharing their ideas, culture, and making friends in a distant part of the world.

This program aims to promote peace and inter-country understanding, while providing a challenging and enriching experience for student participants. Many students say it is a life-changing experience. For the last two years, Rotary send twelve students to Nepal.

This coming December, Branchburg Rotary will be sending additional Rotaract students to Nepal.

Branchburg Rotary encourages learning more about being a youth exchange student before considering making an application. Contact Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan,  PDG, trm7510@gmail.com or 908-369-4318 to learn more. The Asha Project website also has more information about former exchange students: http://www.theashaproject.org

FINDING MY PASSION and PURPOSE

Forty Eighty years ago, I used to wait for the Nepali New Year to receive a box of gift from the Nepal Red Cross which is sent from the United States Red Cross.  That was my favorite month of the year, waiting for a gift box with two pencils, pencil sharpener, eraser and may be a candy.  That was forty eighty years ago.

In 1972, I left Nepal to receive further education in the USA. After being in the states for ten years, I  saved enough money to visit my home country.  During my visit to Nepal, I encountered with two little girls who were collecting pennies from the temple, who were suppose to be in School. But I found our that their parents were not able to send them to school.  That was my turning point, where I found my purpose – providing opportunities to poor children to get education.

As Picasso said “ the meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of Life is to give it away”. 

I came back with determination to send those two girls to school.  I started to organize small events to raise funds for scholarship programs in Nepal.  During my second visit to Nepal in 1990, I challenged a group of Rotary members from the Patan Rotary with $500 dollars match to start a new scholarship for poor children in Patan area.  Now after 26 years, that program provides more than 500 scholarships in Patan.

Nepal Project has become my passion.  As of now, we have completed more than 15 global projects in Nepal to provide safe drinking water to building libraries and establishing computer labs. During my Rotary Governorship, I came up with a theme called

“Passion into Action”. 

That passion is now in a full gear, especially, after the big earthquake in Nepal in April 2015.  Now, I am working along with my Son and Daughter with our new project called the “Asha Project”.

Asha means hope in Nepali. 

We figured that we can give those poor people in Nepal some Hope and Opportunities.  HOPE and OPPORTUNITIES brought me to this county forty five years ago and that same Hope and opportunities, we are trying to provide to people of Nepal.

We just started distributing $100,000 Rotary Foundation grant to earthquake victims in Nepal in partnership with the Rotary club of Mahabouddha.  We are in the process of working with the Rotary Club of Lalitpur to set up computer labs in six schools with $50,000 grant from the Rotary Foundation as well.  During our 2018 Humanitarian mission trip, we spoke with many Rotary clubs in Nepal and we are planning to develop first Rotary Fair in Nepal.  Our small amount of money goes long way in Nepal.  Even we don’t drink a Starbucks coffee once a week, we can save enough money to send one kid to school for a whole year.

As one of the African proverb said “Things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy”. 

So what kind of legacy we want to leave behind as a Rotarian?

Whatever your passion is, whatever that idea is that you’ve had for all of these years that you’ve known that you want to take forward.  Let’s put or PASSION INTO ACTION and try to help those who are less fortunate than us.

Thankfully, we all have gifts to give/share with each other and the world. So be it. ~ Namaste.

 “What I want to be when I grow up” 

 “What I want to be when I grow up” 

That was the title of the essay competition conducted by the Nawayug Leo Club held on the 2nd of June at the “St. Xavier’s Social Service Center” in Jawalakhel, Patan, Nepal.

The mind is everything. What you think you become.  BUDDHA

The children from grade U.K.G. till 10, were to write their essays on the topic of “WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP”.

The President of Nawayug Leo club, Mr. Yug Jung Karki and the board members worked with the students to  prepare for them to write their stories.  According to the club President Yug Jung Karki “It is always nice to share your skill set with others”.  After a short socialization with Students and the director of the social service center as well as staff members, students started to write their stories.

The winners were decided according to six categories from U.K.G to grade 1, based on the number of children in each grade, and the results were announced a week later on the 9th of June where the winners were given certificates and gifts of their choice by the President of Leo Club and some honorable guests.

The main purpose of this project is to have students start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.  Unfortunately, there are not too many opportunities for these poor students. That is the part of the reason The Asha Project is trying to provide hope and opportunities to those students who might otherwise might not have any opportunity to be someone. If you like to support this project, please contact us at trm7510@gmail.com.

BUDDHA “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”.

The 2018 Rotary Convention

The 2018 Rotary Convention connected leaders from around the world
Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors, alumni, and leaders gathered at Rotary’s biggest event of the year, Rotary International Convention. The 2018 event in Toronto featured world-class speakers, innovative workshops, and opportunities to make new friends.

The Asha Project signed MOU with the Patan-West, RID 3292 club to promote programs in Nepal and start new scholarships for remote village students.

Met with many Rotarians from around the world and promoted the Asha Project’s new school building program.

THE ASHA PROJECT: FULFILLING MY PASSION AND PURPOSE

“For it is in giving that we receive”. – Francis of Assisi

Growing up in Nepal, each year for New Year I waited for a Red Cross package. The United States Red Cross sent packages for children to the Nepal Red Cross. In each special box, the ones that came during my favorite month, were two pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, and, maybe, a piece of candy. It was a box worth waiting for. That was forty-eight years ago.

 

In 1972, after finishing high school, I left Nepal to go to college. The days of eagerly waiting for a Red Cross care package were left far behind. After ten years in the United States, not thinking about the old days, I saved enough money to return to my homeland. The visit was nostalgic with one incident standing out. I met two little girls collecting pennies outside a temple. It struck me that they should have been in school. When I asked they told me their parents could not afford their education. At that moment life changes. I found my purpose. I would work to provide educational opportunities for poor children.

 

Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

In Nepal I found my gift, the passion to educate children. With that passion came my purpose, to find a way to send those two girls to school. They may have been the first, but they were not the only ones. I started to raise funds through organizing small events to build a scholarship program. My second visit back to Nepal came in 1990, after I challenged a group of members of the Patan Rotary to match my donation of $500 as the start of the scholarship program. 25 years later that program has provided more scholarships for more than 500 public school children throughout Nepal.

 

That program, The Nepal Project, grew out of the passion born on that trip long ago. Now the Nepal Project completed over $500,000 worth of projects. We provide safe drinking water, help build libraries, and establish computer labs. The desire to help have continually grown. While the Rotary Governor I promoted the theme, “Passion into Action.” Doing good to help others was needed after April 2015, when a big earthquake devastated Nepal.

 

I am proud to say this passion in action has passed on to my children. Working with my son and daughter, we created the ASHA PROJECT after 2015 big earthquake in Nepal.

ASHA means hope in Nepali, and we work to give hope and opportunity to the poor in Nepal.

Hope for greater opportunity brought me to this country 45 years ago, and now we try to bring back that same hope and opportunity to the people of Nepal.

 

With the support from the Rotary Foundation, we are distributing $100,000 micro credit grant to earthquake survivors. We are also working with many other Rotary clubs to built schools and computer labs. These sound like large sums of money, and we are grateful for every penny. But the needs of so many still suffering from the effects of the 2015 earthquake overshadow what has been raised so far. During our recent 2018 mission to Nepal we visited many community schools, distributing much needed school supplies, and conducted workshops for young people. Yet there was so much more we did not have the chance to do. Modest amounts of money go a long way in Nepal. The cost of one Starbucks coffee per week can pay for a Nepali child to go to school for an entire year.

Remembering an African proverb, “Things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy,”

 

I ask myself what legacy do I want when I am gone. I know the answer is the good works of helping the children of Nepal.

I am fortunate to have found my passion. I hope that you have found yours as well, and that you embrace that passion. Together by putting our passion into action we can help those less fortunate.

 

We all have gifts to share and, like the girls collecting pennies, we can all do something to help.
Namaste.