Yak Girl

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2018-01-07
  • Publisher: Sentient Pubns

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This unusual memoir immerses the reader in the fascinating story of a spirited girl in a remote, undeveloped region of Nepal near the border of Tibet, a place made known to the world in Peter Matthiesen's The Snow Leopard. Life above 13,000 feet in northern Dolpo—often called the last paradise because of its breathtaking snow-capped peaks, untouched beauty, and hand-irrigated green pastures—was one of constant risk and harsh survival. In the 1980s, Dolpo had no running water, electricity, motor vehicles, phones, school, or doctors, other than the local lamas, trained in the use of herbs and prayer.

Dorje Dolma's life centered around the care of her numerous younger brothers and sisters and the family's sheep, goats, and yaks. At age five she began herding and was soon taking the animals high in the mountains, where she fought off predatory wolves and snow leopards. Covering her first ten years, the story takes Dorje from her primitive mountain village to the bewildering city of Kathmandu, and finally to a new home in America, where she receives life-saving surgery.

With humor, soul, and insightful detail, the author gives us vividly told vignettes of daily life and the practice of centuries-old Tibetan traditions. She details the heartbreaking trials, natural splendors, and familial joys of growing up in this mysterious, faraway part of the world with its vanishing culture. The sharp increase in recent years of western trekkers to the area, and the introduction of modern communication and transportation, is causing rapid change in Dolpo. This wonderful and surprising tale of survival, loss, and self-reflection offers us entry to this difficult, yet magical, place.
Above all, this is the inspiring story of an indomitable spirit conquering all obstacles, a tale of a girl with a disability on her way to becoming a dynamic woman in a new world.

Author Biography

Dorje Dolma was born in the remote Dolpo region of Nepal, high in the mountains bordering Tibet. She was the oldest of eleven children, only six of whom survived the harsh conditions of their lives. Dolpo had no running water, electricity, motor vehicles, phones, school, or doctors, other than the local lamas, trained in the use of herbs and prayer. Dorje began herding the family's goats and sheep at age five and by seven she was defending them from attacks by wolves and snow leopards.

When she was ten, Dorje's parents took her on a month-long trek to Kathmandu to find help for a serious health problem she had. There they encountered Westerners who arranged to bring Dorje to the United States and get her the surgery she needed to save her life.

Adopted by her new American family, Dorje eventually graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Fine Arts. She now works as an early childhood teacher in Boulder, Colorado, and continues to develop her art. This is her first book.

Table of Contents

1. A Small Girl in Dolpo
2. Playmates
3. Parents
4. Siblings
Sumchog's Horrible Accident
The Death of a Baby Sister
Losing a Baby Brother
5. Grandparents
My Father's Parents
My Mother's Parents
6. Shomo Dechen
7. Daily Life in Dolpo
Stuck in the Snow
8. Shomo Deye Lhamo and Summers in Shey
Herding in Shey
Special Visitors
Family Visits
The Curse
Saying Goodbye to Our Shey Community
9. Ani Dawa Lhamo and Ahyang Karma Tsering's Wedding
10. Shomo Deye Lhamo's Illness
11. The Month-Long Journey from Dolpo to Kathmandu
The Decision to Leave Dolpo
Leaving My Home
12. Life in Kathmandu
Trying to Survive in the City
Pema Almost Dies
13. Searching for Doctors to Save Me
I Almost Become a Nun
I Wanted to Go to School
Rokpa and Meeting Mummy Lea
Meeting the Inje Family
Saying Goodbye to My Family
At Rokpa House
14. Happy Home Boarding School
My First Exam
Strangers Came to Visit Me
I'm Going to America?
A Letter from America
Being Accused
Seeing Jennifer
Leaving Happy Home
15. Journey to America
Something Is Wrong with America
Getting Around in Kathmandu with Jennifer
Meeting Ram
Leaving Nepal
I Have to Eat Fish?
Stopping in Thailand
Stopping in California
My New Home
My New Life

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