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Tsering’s Fund film accepted to prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival

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The latest film from local nonprofit Tsering’s Fund, “Helambu,” has been accepted to the Banff Mountain Film Festival, giving people the option to watch online via the festival’s website starting Oct. 29.

Locals have the chance to see the film early in Bozeman on Friday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Commons. The Bozeman showing is free, though Pete Schmieding, the nonprofit’s president and chairman, asked that people reserve tickets through the Tsering’s Fund website.

The festival runs from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6, and Schmieding said he’s heading up to Banff to introduce “Helambu” to the audience on Nov. 3.

“Most people don’t know who we are and what we’re doing. This is going to raise our awareness in the world by a lot, just being out there,” Schmieding said.

The film took two years to put together and follows the Hyolmo people of northern Nepal and the efforts of Tsering’s Fund and a local secondary school, Melamchi Ghyang, to prevent the trafficking and early marriage of young girls in the region. Wes Overvold served as the director of cinematography for the film and Schmieding was executive director.

Tsering’s Fund was founded in 2007 and works across Nepal. The nonprofit has focused recent efforts in the Helambu region to place young, at-risk girls in boarding schools and ensuring they’re educated through college. Schmieding told EBS in July that the nonprofit sponsors roughly 140 students at Melamchi Ghyang. The effort is intended to break the cycle of poverty in the region by changing the culture of a region that traditionally marries young women off or sends them to work overseas rather than paying for their education.

The story follows the life of Schmieding’s adopted daughter, Maya Hyolmo, who grew up in the Helambu region and lost her parents at a young age. Maya told Schmieding that she was the only girl left from her primary school, and that the girls she grew up with had either been married off or sent away to work.

Maya, now 20, had the opportunity to pursue an education beyond primary school through a Tsering’s Fund sponsorship and is now attending HAMS Nursing College in Kathmandu. She’s expected to graduate in December, Schmieding said.

“One of the things we were trying to do with the film was personalize the trafficking issue,” he said. “The story is just unbelievable.”

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