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Our team

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Tara Bodong (Netherlands) is a non-profit charitable foundation which supports humanitarian projects in the Himalayan region.  The projects are initiated locally and overseen by the Tibetan lama, Geshe Pema Dorjee. Tara Bodong (Netherlands) is run by an multi-national group in Hilversum. We have various educational and professional backgrounds and expertise, and share a common wish to raise funds in support of various humanitarian projects. As volunteers we are able to keep our organisation lean and ensure that every euro donated goes entirely to our charity projects.


For example we were deeply moved by how difficult it is for young girls in Lumla, NE India, to access education. This is one of the areas that Tara Bodong (Netherlands) works in to raise awareness of the poor conditions in Lumla and how important education is in breaking the cycle of poverty.


Please find below information about our core volunteers who are the heart of Tara Bodong (Netherlands):

 

Deborah Biggs (United Kingdom)

My name is Deborah Biggs. I am English and live in Hilversum with my husband, daughter aged 14 and son aged 12. We first moved to the Netherlands in 2007 as a result of my husband’s work. Before leaving the UK, I worked as a matrimonial lawyer for 14 years. My grandfather paid for a subscription to the National Geographic magazine when I was very young so he can take some of the credit for my interest in what happens in different countries around the world. I have always believed in equal education for everyone and think the Tara Bodong Foundation is a very worthy project. I hope we can contribute to providing a safe environment for the girls in Lumla to receive an education.


Elizabeth Fleming (Canada)

My name is Elizabeth Fleming, I am Canadian of Dutch heritage, married to an Englishman and have a teenage son.  Together we moved from Canada and made our home in France for 6 years.  And now we are in our sixth year in the Netherlands. I first met Siri 3 years ago and knew at once that what she was doing in India together with the Lama Gesha  Pema  Dorjee was something that seemed exactly the right thing to do.  And for me it is too.  My background education and work experiences are in marketing and sales encompassing health, food and hospitality industries in several different countries. I have also owned my own businesses in both Australia and Canada. These experiences I am now putting to a more meaningful use, helping those who cannot possibly get ahead in this world without our help. Little by little, one project at a time we are building a family of supporters around the world who are united in our belief of making a difference to better the lives of girls and their families in the Himalayan region.  We are building a school, a meeting place for health, educational and spiritual needs. It will make such a difference to them to finally have somewhere to go for help. This is an exciting adventure, an endless journey, a life-time of sharing and caring for which I am truly grateful.


Christian Horn (Germany)

My name is Christian. I was born and raised in Germany, and have been living in the Netherlands since 2004 with my wife Tatjana and our two sons. When I met Cecilie and her mother Siri a few years ago, I was first touched by their dedication for the cause. As I learned more about the nunnery project, and after having met Pema, I started to understand the incredible hardship that these girls go through in this almost unknown part of Northern India, and how they need help to break through the vicious circle of poverty, lack of education and ill health. Working as an executive in a large global company, I travel a lot, and I have come to realize how many people are less fortunate than us, how education is the key to personal and community development, but also how working together as a team can make a real difference. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Tara Bodong foundation.


Tatjana Horn (Germany)

My name is Tatjana and I live in the Netherlands with my husband and our two sons since 2004. Before having children, I worked for many years as a marketing professional in the travel and services industry. When I met Cecilie and later Siri and Pema, I felt immediately connected and moved by their story. Seeing how much hardship the girls in the remote villages of Lumla are facing, it came very naturally to me to become part of the Tara Bodong group. Using  my skills and former experience for something truly meaningful, and to work together in a team of wonderful people makes a real difference to my life, and hopefully to some of the girls in the Himalayan Region in the future.


Margaret Pedra (Canadian)

My name is Margaret and I have been living in the Netherlands for the last 5 years with my husband and son. I worked for many years as an IT and project manager in the legal and finance industry.   When I first arrived I met Cecilie at an international school were our children attend.  Eventually I met her mother Siri and heard her story and was immediately affected by her kindness and desire to help a group of girls in India get an education.  I believe education is a right for everyone and decided I wanted to help her achieve this goal.  Hearing about the hardship these girls face on a daily basis in the remote villages of Lumla I decided to become actively involved and became part of the Tara Bodong group. Together with the others in the team we hope to use our skills and experiences to try and make a difference for the girls in the Himalayan Region in the future.


Eva Persson (Sweden)

My name is Eva and I have been in the Netherlands since 2009. I am married and have 2 children. We are from Sweden. I have had my own company working as a facial therapist and making my own skin care line. I have previously worked in the fashion industry in Stockholm and in India, and there I often saw people in remote villages struggling a lot. When I was asked to participate working with Tara Bodong it felt very natural to be part of a team and help in my way.


Cecilie Weirum Stuyvenberg (Norway)

My name is Cecilie Weirum Stuyvenberg. I was born in Oslo, but have lived abroad since 1995, first in England and now in the Netherlands. I am the mother of two boys. I studied English, Spanish and Sociology in Oslo and London and worked for many years in the travel industry and in recruitment. My big inspiration is my mother who moved to India 5 years ago and got involved in humanitarian projects in the Himalayan region of India and Nepal. I was fortunate to travel to Dharamsala, India in 2010 and 2011 and get the chance to meet the projects’ initiator, the Tibetan lama, Geshe Pema Dorjee, whom my mother works closely with. His enthusiasm and ‘hands on’ approach paired with the many stories from the impoverished  areas of the Himalayas my mum told us, inspired my husband and I to found Tara Bodong (Netherlands) to support the nunnery/girls’ school project in Lumla, North-East India. We are lucky to work with a team of enthusiastic, inspirational and skilled friends in the Tara Bodong (Netherlands) foundation. I hope our joint efforts will bring a positive change to the lives of some of the less fortunate young girls in the mountain villages of Lumla.


Martin Stuyvenberg (The Netherlands)

My name is Martin and I work in banking in Amsterdam. I was born in de Bilt, the Netherlands, but went abroad to the US at the age of 16 as an exchange student and later to France where I studied International Business. I worked for many years in Paris and London before returning to the Netherlands in 2007. I am married and have two boys.  I was inspired by my mother-in-law, Siri Weirum, who had the courage to leave her comfortable life in Norway when she retired, to go to India to help the less fortunate. After having met Geshe Pema Dorjee here in Europe and later in Dharamsala, India, where I travelled with my wife and children, I wanted to do something to help support some of the projects of Geshe Pema Dorjee. My wife and I set up the Tara Bodong (Netherlands) foundation for this purpose. We were particularly touched by the urgency and the necessity of building a nunnery/girls’ school to provide much needed education to suffering girls in the Lumla area. I am very grateful for the support we are getting from our friends here in the Netherlands for this project.


Silvia Trevisanato (Italy)

I am Silvia Trevisanato, an Italian mum living abroad since 2001. I worked as an architect in Italy and in the US. I came to Holland in 2005 and I met wonderful people, among those I met Siri Weirum and Lama Pema Dorjee. They touched my heart and I trust them completely. I found in them my way to help less fortunate human beings. I help Tara Bodong when needed and as much as I can. I hope we all together will succeed soon to improve the quality of life of those young girls in Lumla only if just a tiny bit.


Debbie Wirtjes-Lewis (Trinidad)

My name is Debbie Wirtjes-Lewis. I grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and now live in the Netherlands with my husband and two daughters. I am a former journalist and now work as a freelance communications consultant. I continue to follow global events and I am continuously plagued by a feeling of helplessness when I see the extent of suffering around the world. That is why I am grateful to Siri and Pema-la for allowing me to help them make a difference.  It shows me that no matter where we are, or how much we have, there is always a way to bring comfort and help others.