March 4, 2011

Warm Clothes, Warm Hearts. ~ Tamdin Wangdu

Children in Tibet received warm winter clothing from funds donated by warm-hearted friends from Colorado.

Just as Tibet experienced its coldest month (often 10-20 below zero on the high plateau), 50 children at Pa Lhakang Monastic Orphanage in Kham have received traditional Tibetan winter clothing, known as Chupa, from the Tibetan Village Project. The winter Chupa is the traditional Tibetan long robe, warm and woolen, that can also be used as a blanket. In addition, each child received a pair of socks, a hat and gloves.

TVP hired Songyal, a local 70-year old Tibetan tailor to make these chupas rather than buying plain clothes from Chinese cities like Chengdu.

This ensures that donated funds will stay in the Tibetan business community and support local Tibetan employment. It is very difficult for Tibetans to find employment when most jobs go to Chinese immigrants. TVP is very grateful to those who made this possible with financial assistance. We also provided new pots and kettles for the school kitchen. Screens were provided in the yard to ensure good drainage and a covered roof ensured a warm, dry environment for the children.

About 80-100 warm-hearted friends and supporters of Tibetan Village Project attended Evening for Tibet, an annual fundraising dinner at Tibet’s Restaurant in Louisville, Colorado hosted by Waylon Lewis of elephant journal. TVP was able to raise about $15,000 from the evening that covered the cost of providing these winter clothes for children, business tents for Yushu earthquake victims and microfinance loans to women in Tibet.

Pa Lhakang Monastic Orphanage (also know as Tagong School) is a home and study center for 50 orphans and disadvantaged children (young boys) from the Tagong area of Kham, Tibet. Sonam Dhargyal (better known as Apo), an accomplished monk, teacher and respected figure of Pa Lhakang Monastery, started the school in 2006. After years of studying and the completion of his three-year retreat, Apo decided to do something practical: care for and educate children. Apo received permission from his monastery to start a monastic school that is part of the monastery but operates independently. A local Tibetan offered to rent them a home; two monks volunteered to become teachers, and an elder man offered to become the cook. Apo then began to care for the boys (most of them orphans), which ranged in age from 6 to 16 years old. He also asked a nearby nunnery to look after young girls in need of similar support.

The goal of the Pa Lhakang Monastic Orphanage is to provide general education for children with an emphasis on a monastic curriculum, as most of the children intend to become monks at the monastery. However, if children decide not to become monks or leave the monastic path, they will at least have the basic educational foundation required to attend traditional schools or acquire trade skills.

Travel with TVP to Tibet

Since 2006, TVP teams have made annual trips to the Tagong area (see Conscious Journeys program) to volunteer, experience Tibetan ways of life and explore Tibet’s wild frontier of Kham. TVP is considering hosting a trip to Tagong, Kham in June (June 12th to June 25th—14 days). Participants will have the opportunity to experience three days of horse racing, one or two days of volunteering at an orphanage and a few days of light to moderate trekking and camping in a stunning nomadic site in the Kham grasslands. If you are interested, please contact us at [email protected] for more information or visit TibetanVillageProject.org.

Tamdin Wangdu is a native Tibetan social entrepreneur and the founder of the Tibetan Village Project, a nonprofit, non-political organization that promotes sustainable development and cultural preservation in Tibet.  Tamdin received B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and worked as IT Consultant for several years prior becoming the executive director of TVP. Tamdin was born in Tibet and travels between his adopted home in Colorado and native Tibet. To learn more, visit TibetanVillageProject.org

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