WHEN she was a little girl, growing up in Healay Chaubas, a small village in a remote region of Nepal, Kamala Yonzon Tahrayli dreamed of one day having direct access to water.
Having to wake every morning at 3: 30 a.m. to begin the daily journey of walking to a far away source just to draw the water needed for her family's survival, she knew there had to be a better way.
Tahrayli moved to North Vancouver in 1988 at age 22 and has made her home here, working as an assistant teacher in the North Vancouver School District and is the mother of three. Thanks to the support of the North Shore community, she's close to realizing her longheld dream and is $15,000 away from establishing a clean water source in Healay Chaubas, saving residents from their current trek of an hour to the nearest source.
"Being here, I wanted to help there," says Tahrayli.
"That's where I grew up. All my family is there. I love it. That is home," she adds.
Tahrayli is the founder of the recently formed Kamala Yonzon Tahrayli Foundation (KYT). Its mission is two-fold: first to establish a source of water in Healay Chaubas; then a hospital, as currently, villagers in need of care must travel a day by foot, or by bus, only as weather permits, to Kathmandu. The foundation has been working with a non-governmental organization in Nepal and the infrastructure is in place to have a free water source implemented as soon as the required project funds are obtained.
Tahrayli became acquainted with Laura Mack, who serves as a member of the foundation's advisory board, as a result of their sons' friendship. "I was very drawn to Kamala's spirit as soon as we met. I wanted to know this woman," says Mack. "We started to have cups of tea and we started to learn more about each other and she shared her story."
Mack decided to lend her support to the development of KYT, drawing on her background as a consultant in the business community and strategic planning.
Last fall, Mack, a former member, encouraged Tahrayli to join composer and musician Julie Blue's Singspiration Singers, a community choir focused on empowering those who share their voices in the ensemble. Blue now serves as a foundation advisory board member and decided to present a benefit concert for KYT, featuring the Singspiration Singers, entitled River of Life, Saturday, June 16 at 7: 30 p.m. at North Vancouver's Mount Seymour United Church. "Singspiration Singers is really quite a marvelous place of song and expression and community," says Blue. "It draws amazing people and we often benefit different community organizations. . . . We were inspired to have the vision of bringing water to the village in Nepal as our fundraising for this concert."
Tahrayli has been working to get the water project off the ground for the last three years, having started small, hosting fundraising dinners in her home. She's come a long way and remains committed to the cause, especially in the wake of her father's passing last year.
"He's my hero," she says. "His last word, three days before he passed away, he asked me if I was going to finish what he started."
Tahrayli's father remained a resident of Healay Chaubas and had long worked to implement a direct source of water for his community. Tahrayli knew then she was on the right path and is beyond grateful for the support she's received from the North Shore community. "I'm very blessed. . . .," she says. "It's touching, deep in my heart."
River of Life tickets ($20) will be available at the door, starting at 7 p.m. For more information on Julie Blue and the Singspiration Singers, which is always looking for new members, visit www.julieblue.com.
For more information on the Kamala Yonzon Tahrayli Foundation, visit kytfoundation.org.