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Compassion Mandala: The Odyssey of an American Charity in Contemporary Tibet
Pamela Logan, author

Adult; Memoir; (Publish)

EASTERN TIBET is a place of rugged ranges and torrential rivers, home to the fierce Khampa rebels who tried for a decade to defeat China’s army and win independence for Tibet. This book chronicles Logan’s fourteen years there doing the impossible: assisting Tibetans under Chinese rule. In it, Logan shares her first-hand experience working in education, health care, job training, disaster relief, reforestation, and cultural heritage. She tells about the diverse Tibetans she knew; she documents the many obstacles they face as ethnic minorities in China, and the impact of Chinese migrants pouring into their homeland.
In a memoir resonant with authentic devotion to serving others, Logan (Tibetan Rescue: The Extraordinary Quest to Save the Sacred Art Treasures of Tibet) painstakingly chronicles the work of the American charity she created to aid the deeply impoverished Kham region of Tibet. After becoming fascinated by the fighting styles of other countries, Logan initially explored the area of Kham to discover more about their warriors. Immediately drawn to help the region’s poorer residents, Logan left her aeronautics career and began volunteering, eventually starting the Kham Aid Foundation. Logan tells the moving stories of raising money for conservation projects, assistive equipment for disabled people, and education, as well as acquiring sponsors to give individual children educational scholarships.

Logan acknowledges that humanitarian work in the region is often dirty and difficult, but she always maintains a positive viewpoint, and the individuals she helps seem to share her attitude of hope and thankfulness. Sometimes her narration is a little dry and removed, but when she lets herself get personal, her writing shines. Readers with some background knowledge of politics in Tibet and China will have the best grasp of the nuances of Logan’s work. Those unfamiliar with the region will still appreciate the comprehensive firsthand exploration of areas both troubled and beautiful, as well as the helpful maps.

Throughout, Logan takes time to detail the importance of establishing trusting connections with locals, the complicated nature of international relations, and the speed with which networks and contacts can change. Although she delves into the corruption of government officials stealing money earmarked for the children and shares cautionary advice for Americans doing humanitarian work in China, Logan also brilliantly reveals the rewards of her labors: babies’ lives saved at birth, educated girls who achieve great success. The resilience and beauty of the Tibetan people stand out in this sweeping account.

Takeaway: Readers curious about daily life and humanitarian work in Tibet will be swept up by this marathon account of the Kham Aid Foundation’s founding and work.

Great for fans of Charlie Carroll’s Peaks on the Horizon: Two Journeys in Tibet, Gillian G. Tan’s In the Circle of White Stones: Moving through Seasons with Nomads of Eastern Tibet.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A