The first week…


The week was amazing. The past two days I was literally working 14 hours straight.

The Rowell fund is accepting applications this month. It is only for Tibetans, and I’ve been helping several non-profits fill out their forms.

One of the new people I’ve met is Lamsang. He’s just started a small non-profit called Shideling. It is based about 20km away from the main McLeod Ganj area. Many of the new arrivals from TIbet live in that area, is it is much less expensive than the MG area. However, there are very few social services there.

Lamsang has started Shideling to fix that problem. He is trying to start a job training workshop to teach carpentry. With the proceeds raised from selling furniture, he hopes to fund a computer lab, and also be able to assist area residents with medical expenses. Many of the residents are ex-political prisoners.

Three of the women who started the Shideling cafe are ex-nuns who were imprisoned. Through a mutual friend I learned their stories.

While in jail, they had refused to sing the Chinese national anthem as a Chinese flag was raised over the prison. For this, they were put in solitary confinement for many months. They frequently must visit the doctor for other problems; being forced to stand outside in ice-cold water (with their shoes put in reach) for many hours at a time led to kidney trouble.

I am really enjoying my evening English classes, I alternate nights between the beginner class at Hope Center that is sponsored by Built on Respect, and teaching Ngawang — the President of Gu Chu Sum. Teaching Ngawang is truly an experience. He is so lovely, smiles and laughs so much. The human rights violations against political prisoners is astonishing. THere are rare pictures in the halls of GCS. Pictures of tortured bodies, and corpses. The Chinese prison guards have a particular affinity for the electric cattle prod — using it on every sensitive area of the body imaginable.

Ngawang and I are working on his English, so when he is asked to speak regarding this issue, he is comfortable with his English. I really can’t convey how simultaneously angering and heartbreaking it is to discuss the words associated with torture — especially knowing the beautiful person in front of you has gone through them.

That said, there is a beautiful converse. My friends and students here love to cook and socialize. Ngawang (GCS) , Lhakchung and Tenzin (Hope Center) and I made dinner this week. They know I adore momos, a Tibetan dumpling. We worked together for almost 2 hours preparing them.

Thank you for reading!

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