Interview with President Isabelle Zanetti-Lama!
Coralie Diebold: Hi Isabelle, you created the association Friends of Dhorpatan Chekok Alu on April 14, 2015. Where did you get this project?
Isabelle Zanetti-Lama: I discovered the village of Dhorpatan in Nepal and its friendly people on a trip in the summer of 2014. My husband, a Tibetan doctor, is a native of this village. After two days of bus, one day of jeep and three days of walking, we finally arrive, my husband and I, in the village of Dhorpatan. And there … Blow of heart! Blow of heart for the village, for the landscapes, and for the inhabitants!
Coralie: Explain to us why you created this association.
Isabelle: Friends of Dhorpatan Chekok Alu aims to bring international solidarity to the oppressed and disadvantaged people of the Dhorpatan Valley in Nepal. We carry out environmental and social projects, and support various actions for local populations. In addition, we want to promote Tibetan and Nepali culture.
Coralie: So what is your first project?
Isabelle: We want to develop the potato export industry in Asia (Thailand, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan …). Indeed, the potato grown in Dhorpatan has a unique taste and special culinary qualities. The aim of the project is to buy the potatoes from the villagers of Dhorpatan in order to provide producers with a fixed salary and a return that could increase each year. By allowing them to make a profit, they will be able to sustainably improve their standard of living and the development of the village (roads, infrastructures, schools, etc.). In the medium or long term, our dream would be to organize in addition a processing sector and to propose a variety of products.
Coralie: More personally, what were your motivations to get started in social entrepreneurship?
Isabelle: By discovering this village in 2014, this good potato with a unique taste and especially taking the time to listen to the villagers, to observe them, to admire them, to live with them, I realized that they had gold in their hands but mostly lived below the poverty line. This project has matured down to Kathmandu. I could not stay idle and leave them as they were … Then the idea came to me. If I can bring a stone to the humanitarian and agricultural building, my life will have a useful meaning. And as said very well Gandhi “Be tomorrow what you want to see in the world” so let’s go!