Fundraising Updates

This past week has been one of the most difficult of our lives.  We have been working tirelessly on relief efforts in Nepal, and on planning the long process of helping our communities and our country rebuild. One of the things that has kept us going has been the outpouring of support from around the globe – we have had amazing press coverage and campaigns to help from dozens of organizations and individuals. Here are a few examples of many.

Bake Sale

Fifth Grade girls from San Domenico School in California held a bake sale to help victims of the earthquake. With matching donations from parents, they were able to raise over $5,000 which they will be handing over to our US office. One of the girls is the daughter of our Board Member Robert Balmaseda.

domenico girls


We are getting a lot of love in the instagram community as well. Andy Bardon was one of the first to extend his support to us through his instagram page.

Everesting in the UK

Team dZi UK riders set themselves to the difficult task of everesting in UK’s toughest hill- the Bealach na Bà. They have been raising funds through their justgiving page at The team of 4-Kevin Connors, Charlie Sanders, Charlie Sanders, David Ward, and Matt Ray continuously rode the hill on May 2, 2015 until they completed a continuous climb and descent of 8,848 m in a difficult English weather.

Team dZi UK riders!


Our long time partner Marmot has started a Marmot-dZi Nepal Relief campaign, and they are raising funds through the crowdrise page at

More than  $9,000 has already been collected through this.

Zeal Optics

Our recent partner Zeal Optics – the world’s most sustainable sunglass and most technologically advanced goggle company, are also helping us in our mission to rebuild. Zeal Optics will be donating $5 for every pair of shades purchased at MSRP from their flagship storefront to us. Check out their blog :  #supportNepal.


Our newest non-profit partner Mountainfilm has been constantly supporting us in getting the word out. They have given us a wide platform to send out a letter of appeal to help us in rebuilding and reconstruction of homes, schools and public infrastructure.

Any support, no matter cash or kind, no matter big or small means a lot to us and to the people of Nepal at the moment. dZi, as such is not a relief organization but we have tried our best to be there for our community members in time of this great need. In doing so, thoughts from around the world have meant a lot to us in assuring our communities that we will support them in getting back on feet.

Volunteer Colleen Mary brought tears of joy to our eyes when we saw this video.

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Growing chiraito-growing incomes

“There are people who have returned from Arab countries, and who have stopped going to trekking as porters because they see that chiraito cultivation enables them to earn far more money right in their home. dZi supported seed and training have only begun to show production from 2013 so many more people are now inspired to grow chiraito. We can never save enough money with potato and maize, but now we realize that we can with Chiraito. I am one of those returned from Gulf country to try my hand at Chiraito farming in my own village.”

– Lhakpa Sherpa, local farmer & trader of Chiraito, Rakha


Chiraito (Swertia chirayita) is an herb with medicinal properties that is endemic to the foothills of Himalayas, that grows at altitudes ranging from 1,600 to 2,500 meters. It fetches a very high value, and is in demand throughout the Asian continent as an important medicinal plant.

Wild Chiraito can be found in the forests  of our working area like the tiny hamlet of Sibdu. The locals have used this as medicine for various ailments including fevers and headaches.  About a decade ago, small tradesmen came into Sibdu looking for wild chiraito. The locals assisted these traders to harvest it from their forests during the monsoon season. Overharvesting soon led to the wild chiraito becoming extremely scarce and the income stream dried up.

The Village of Sibdu

In 2010, dZi  collaborated with our local NGO partner Creative Porter Society (CPS) to provide 300 farmers with training on how to cultivate chirito domestically – including many from Sibdu. We also distributed a small amount of free seeds to a number of households of the area to get things started.

There was initially some skepticism from local farmers who believed that wild plants wouldn’t do well when cultivated domestically. We provided support to anyone in the communities who was willing to try. The farmers that diligently maintained their crops – including Kusang Sherpa from Sibdu – realized a very lucrative harvest when the plant became mature after three years.

After the first sale of domesticated chirito, interest amongst other farmers exploded, and Kusang earned 80,000 rupees from selling seeds alone. This amount is slightly more than the current annual per-capita income in Nepal.

Kusang’s wife Doma hugs her mature Chiraito Plant


Chirito helps farmers earn hard cash that is virtually unavailable in our remote project areas, and reduces the need to take out high-interest loans to cover expenses such as food, school fees, and marriage or funeral rites.  We have also set up a local farmers’ cooperative that supports bulk sales of chirito (thus fetching higher prices) and provides savings and loan facilities to the entire community. This marks a huge step forward for economic empowerment.

The cooperative Creative Herbs Group was opened in the community of Rakha by CPS in our support to assist farmers in investing in commercial agriculture ventures such as Chiraito. Through this cooperative, now 82 farmers from Sungdel, Dipsung and Rakha have obtained certification as Chiraito farmers in the District Forest Office which will ensure that they do not have to pay yearly levy to their community forest which they are doing now. This has also increased their coalition with government offices as commercial farmers.


We have now expanded the Chiraito training and support to all our working areas, and will have over 550 farmers involved by the end of 2014.


chiraito harvest1
A community member shows us her harvest of seeds, and Chiraito stalk!