OLS is an all volunteer organization and became a nonprofit corporation in the state of Maine in May of 2015. Our 501(c)3 status was granted on July 23, 2015. We are a secular organization that happens to primarily work with Buddhists as they comprise the majority in Ladakh. We have no litmus test based on religion or heritage as to whom we are willing to help.
Our organization grew from an experience in 2011 when most of our board members traveled to Ladakh to work on a humanitarian expedition where we had the privilege of experiencing the stunning beauty of this remarkable Himalayan enclave. The highlight of the trip was getting to meet and work in close contact with people from smaller more remote villages who are know for their gentle and friendly nature.
Ladakh faces challenges which seem particularity daunting because of the difficult mountain terrain which makes it hard to deliver services even under the best of circumstances. Many villages are unreachable for much of the year as passes close during the winter. After meeting and getting to know many villagers a few things became apparent.
There's is a remarkable commitment to education even as many village schools struggle for the most basic resources. Many young people aspire to pursue their education beyond secondary school and it was apparent that most lacked the financial resources to pursue their dreams. We also became acutely aware of the fact that women and girls faced some unique challenges. Like women all over the world they can be victims of abuse, divorce, and poverty. Those problems are amplified in Ladakh because of insufficient support services available to them.
After much consideration we decided to form a nonprofit to see what we could do to help. We were very concerned about doing anything that could have unintended consequences. We felt that we could best help by lending support to local organizations and their initiatives while respecting their knowledge and decisions. In particular we were impressed and inspired by the work of Ladakhi Women's Welfare Network (LWWN)
as we had an opportunity to observe their integrity, courage, and commitment to women's rights. Their work resonates with our board as we've worked on the same issues here at home.
Our mission is to assist local organizations in their initiatives to improve the well-being of the women, children, and families of Ladakh.