"I was not supposed to be here. The circumstances of my birth and early life gave no indication that I would ever accomplish anything, and, as a child, I felt quite insignificant and inadequate. However, a deep desire not to repeat the mistakes of generations past, couple with hard work, commitment, and tenacity in the face of challenges, have helped me become who I am today. Now, I am working with youth in my community to help them discover their strengths amidst challenges and learn to live peacefully with themselves, their families, and community.
In September 2014, at the Lincoln Center in New York City, the Equator Prize of the United Nations Development Program was awarded to Tsering Norbu and the Pendeba Society of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The Equator Prize is given by the U.N. every two years to the world's select projects that show significant sustainable development.
Norbu began his career as an employee of the Qomolangma (Everest) National Nature Preserve. Young, out of high school, he attended a remote check post guarding Mt. Shishapangma, the world's 14th highest peak. Norbu used his free time to read about conservation and to teach himself English. This diligence couple with uncommon happiness made him quick friends - and people took time to mentor him.
With such enthusiasm, he began full time employment with The Mountain Institute. He started learning management skills working inside the administration of the nature preserve. He accessed training in mainland China, Nepal, and Thailand, and he continued to practice his English.
Future Generations was impressed-giving him employment as a trainer in the Pendeba Program. Pendebas are "workers who benefit the village." In this program, villages select a representative to begin a sequence of training experiences in family health, entreprenuership, reforestation, and agriculture. With their new life skills, pendebas help villagers improve village life, especially gathering villagers into "action groups" where they combine their energies and resources.
Having proven his abilities, Norbu entered Future Generations Graduate School. During his studies, he realized a bigger vision. If Pendebas were successful by organizing at village level, why not organize all Pendebas into a Tibet-wide association? There were by then 800 Pendebas distributed across Tibet. Norbu's master's practicum became reading Chinese law on non-profits, then negotiating activation of those only once-before-used laws in Tibet, and ultimately creating the second non-profit organization in Tibet: The Pendeba Society.
Under Norbu's leadership the Pendeba Society has flourished - so much so that it won the Equator Prize as well as a number of China-wide awards. More importantly, it has actively supported bottom-up action in social change by the hard-working Pendebas across the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.