Jhamtse International Welcomes Executive Director Odessa Dwarika

OdessaUntil the present time, Jhamtse International has been able to function as an all-volunteer organization. However, we have come to the realization that, as an all-volunteer organization, we have reached the limit of our ability to further our mission to end suffering, spread happiness, and build a better world through the practice of the universal principles of love, compassion, and wisdom. We now look forward to being able to increase our impact with professional leadership.

The Board of Directors is excited to welcome Odessa Dwarika as the “face of Jhamtse International.” Odessa, who was selected out of more than 50 candidates, has 20 years of outstanding performance in non-profit leadership and fundraising in organizations dedicated to improving people’s lives. But it is Odessa’s personal qualities and life experience that give us confidence that she will guide the future of Jhamtse not only with skill and grace, but with love and compassion.

Odessa says, “After viewing Tashi and the Monk, I knew that I belonged with Jhamtse International. I look forward to walking on this journey with the many who have been inspired by Lobsang Phuntsoks’ healing vision and the amazing children that he serves.” 

As part of the interview process, Odessa was asked to respond to a number of questions. Her answers reveal much about who she is.

“The mission of Jhamtse Gatsal speaks to me because of my personal history of child sponsorship and volunteerism. The day I turned 15 and got my first job in food service was the day I sent away to sponsor a child through Children International. Her name was Kelly and she was three years old. Twenty-four years have passed since I first visited her. I have been back fifteen times. I’ve planned the ‘Quinceaneras’ for Kelly and her sister, made sure all three siblings graduated from high school, attended their weddings, and seen Kelly’s two children born.”

In speaking of her reaction to viewing “Tashi and the Monk,” Odessa said that the film “…is a testament to the healing power of community. In the case of the Venerable Lobsang Phuntsok, it also demonstrates the impact of service work to heal our own wounds. Throughout the movie the message is clear – when you contribute to the collective, that love and light is reflected back upon you. At the beginning of the movie, Tashi appears to be so traumatized as to be beyond reach. The culture of compassion and self-respect that is generated at Jhamtse Gatsal is embodied in the children and adults there, and it is this incredible culture and environment of compassion that provides the healing.”

Odessa clearly understands the value and importance of the sponsorship program, which provides the foundation for Jhamtse International’s support of operating expenses at Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community. She writes, “The sponsorship model is a very organic model for social change. It is the way we have helped each other for millennia. Before the institutions and the charity drives, humans simply expanded their notion of family to include others. They nursed the babies whose mothers were sick or had died, they cared for the elderly as they would their own parents, and many Native American communities protected and incorporated Africans escaping slavery. The mission of Jhamtse International means that we can continuously expand our notion of family until it reaches around the globe and leaves no one uncared for.”

The Board of Directors of Jhamtse International looks forward to Odessa Dwarika’s leadership with excitement and confidence.

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