Tibetan Refugees in India

The bon people.

The Bon people of Tibet can be traced back for many thousands of years and their religious history also pre dates Buddism by thousands of years although the principles of the two religions are very similar.

History.

After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, His Highness The Dalai Lama took exile in India with many thousands of Tibetans both Buddhist and Bonpo, Many Tibetans, who were scattered throughout India in refugee camps died due to climatic differences and harsh living conditions. The Bonpos through great efforts and many setbacks formed a separate Tibetan Bonpo settlement in 1967 in Dolanji, Himel Pradesh, North India. A small temple and housing for monks was erected in 1969 and the new abbot, His Holiness The 33rd sMen ri Trizin Rinpoche (the spiritual head of the Bon tradition) was chosen. A new school was also built, which taught up to fifth grade, however to continue their education the children had to go to other schools where the Bonpos were in the minority and where they suffered much harassment. Finally in 1988, when His holiness The Dalai Lama visited Dolanji and endorsed the wishes of the abbot, was it possible to upgrade the school to eighth grade where all the children, boys and girls, could receive a non-monastic education. This major work was entrusted to Lhatri Geshe Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche, who also organised the establishment of a children’s residence called ‘The Bon Children’s Home’ for refugee and abandoned children. The home was to provide living accommodation and an opportunity to study for the children of the refugee Bon communities in Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and India.

Initially there were forty-five children at the home and boys and girls shared one large room with a small kitchen attached.    In 1990 two separate mud walled dormitories were built and a dining room and new kitchen were added.     Meanwhile the number of children, whose ages range from five to sixteen, has increased to over one hundred and fifty and is increasing all the time particularly during the winter months, when the intense Himalayan cold is at it’s worst.    The home has never turned a child away!

Environment.

There are very simple basic dormitories for boys and girls. They consist of long halls with walls of dried mud, each student has a bed and a box to keep their clothes and possessions in, and there are no separate rooms. Due to the yearly increase in numbers, these dormitories are far from sufficient and many of the younger children are obliged to share beds. In 1999 Lama Nyima wrote “Children come with high hopes and we do everything we can not to disappoint them, at the same time we are aware that during the monsoon the mud walls are in danger of collapse! There are landslides and there is slush and mud everywhere. Apart from these basic problems of struggling with such primitive means, we are increasingly aware that the older children need privacy. This is a psychological need above the mere physical problem.”

We are pleased to report that since that date due to generous support from around the world, a new purpose built brick dormitory block has been built for the girls and negotiations are currently underway with The SOS Organization of Austria to help fund the building of a new dormitory for the boys, However this is only a fraction of the development that is needed to support the ever increasing number of children. Lama Nyima and his fellow monks and helpers have achieved miracles with financial support from around the world, however conditions are still extremely basic and new kitchens and play areas are desperately needed as well as all forms of equipment, which we in the west would consider essentials in a children’s home, there are no toys, footballs or general play equipment, few towels, spare clothes, shoes or socks, each child desperately needs a sponsor to support their basic needs and to help contribute towards their education.

How you can help.

Currently around 50% of the children are sponsored, however sponsors are urgently needed for the rest of the children and the new arrivals. The current cost for supporting a child is £300.00 per year or £25.00 per month. Apart from sponsoring a child, any contribution however small will be gratefully received and put towards the supply of equipment and clothing and additional food such as fruit, which is currently a luxury but should be a basic essential part of a child’s diet.

We have details of both boys and girls available for sponsorship, so please don’t hesitate to ask for profiles and photographs. In return for your sponsorship you will receive a photograph of your child, a profile and regular updates on the child’s progress.

As our relationship with the home develops it is hoped to arrange visits to India and possible travel to Europe for the older children.

Sponsor a child now