2014 Concert Night by Tibetan Education Fund
Time: 6:30pm start
Date: 28th June, 2014
Location: Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm
Enjoy the unique style of Tibetan music and sample the cuisine of the native Tibetan peoples.
Last year’s concert was a great success and we look forward to another memorable night.
This 2014 Concert looks set for a night a fun and great entertainment.
Welcome to the March 2014 Newsletter for Tibetan Education Fund
It has been a busy start to the year with our representation at the Festival of Tibet in January, we raised $1000.00 for our projects in Tibet.
Aboriginal Hostels Limited – Fund Raiser
Wanday recently (March 2014) helped out at a homeless shelter at Musgrave Park, West End and donated some stationery and clothing that TEF had been given, unfortunately it worked out to be too expensive for TEF to send these items over to Tibet.
Recycled Donations to AHL
Last year Wanday was able to take over our donations but as no one was travelling to the area of our childcare centre this year it was decided it was better for homeless people here to have these goods. Good work from Grant known as ‘the polite guy’ for organizing the AHL day which Wanday reports was very inspirational.
Many thanks to John & Frances Kee
Thankyou’s to John and Frances Kee for hosting a dinner at their home with the proceeds going to TEF, the evening also included the sale of a lovely painting by Htoo Htoo Han. The new owner of the painting now has a beautiful piece of artwork and TEF has $400 to add to John’s donation of $200 for the evening. If anyone is interested in hosting a fundraising dinner at their home, please contact Wanday via our website. Wanday will bring the food for your dinner, so what could be easier as a get together for you and your friends.
The latest report from the Bumkhang Childcare Centre is positive, with all the children doing well with studies and health. The health of the children is important to TEF and the village, so much so that the elders in the village have started burning any junk food that is found, Bumkhang Childcare Centre has banned any of the children bringing junk food into the centre,, they are supplied with a nutritious lunch so extra food it not required. It is unfortunate that junk food has been infiltrating the village and it is important to send a strong message that it is not wanted in this area.
We will be holding our next fundraising event in May, keep a watch out for your email with all the details soon.
Many thanks to all our monthly donors, you are the people that keep the childcare centre open. If you know anyone who would be interested in joining us please direct the to our website www.tibetaneducationfund.org
Education was my path to freedom and liberation
My name is Wanday Dondrup and I come from Rebgong region in Tibet. This is my story.
Rebgong is a major county located in the center of Qinghai prefecture. There are 75 villages in the county of Rebgong. Four townships in the county are farming areas, six are mixed farming and herding, and three are nomadic areas. The population of Rebgong is approximately 100,000+, the majority of whom are Tibetans. Rebgong plays a major role in education, health care, and economics.
The farmers and herders in Rebgong have a difficult life with brutal winters and a short growing season. Farm production is limited to wheat, highland barley, and raising livestock such as yaks, sheep, cows, and goats.
My family is a farming family, and I have three brothers and two sisters. I am youngest of all. My father became a full time hermit at the age of forty, so my mother had to raise all of us. When we were growing up, our family was so poor, we could not even buy salt which was a few cents at that time. My mum always sent me to our neighbours to ask for some matchbox wooden pieces, or a little cooking salt. She worked so hard to raise us and she managed to send us all to school. My mother is 78 now and she cannot even straighten her arms from over working for so many years.
My mother is an illiterate women but she strongly believes in education, and worked so hard for her whole life to ensure we received the education that changed our lives. One of my sisters became a mathematics professor at one of the biggest universities in China. She has even published some well-known books related to mathematics. Two of my brothers and another sister are school teachers. My other brother is a Tibetan doctor in America.
We all owe our mother deeply for the opportunity to learn.
Deciding to Leave Tibet
I always wanted to go to India, even though I heard so many scary stories about people been killed escaping on route to India or falling in to big holes that had been covered by snow.
I started by selling clothes on the street for one year, I purchased the clothes at wholesale prices from Lanzhou city, where my sister was a teacher, and sold them for a good price in my town. From this enterprise, I saved some money for the trip. The decision was made to go.
I was registered to supplement my study at Northwest Minority Nationalist University after my failed entrance exam to University. In February 1994, the night before I was ostensibly leaving for school in China but in reality was leaving to travel to India, my mother cooked my favourite noodle soup. As she was completely unaware of my real journey, she was ignorant of the turmoil in my heart.
All night I felt so much pain knowing tomorrow morning I would be leaving everything I loved behind and may never see my family again. I kept looking at my mother’s face, and tears started to fall down my face. My mother’s exact word was “Why so sad? You just going to school for few months, and we will see you soon“. These days I still think about that night.
The next morning my mum got up so early as usual and baked some Tibetan bread for me to take, she woke me up in her usual way “Wanday get up get up, you are going to be late”. I gave her hug with tears in my eyes which is not common in our culture, and she said “why the tears, now go, and study hard”.
My Time in India – (Goto page 1)
Once I arrived to Dharamsala, I sent a letter to my family in Tibet to let them know I was safe in India. This happened after four months of traveling and my family not knowing where I was. I could not ever repay the debt to my mother for causing her so much sadness. Later when I went back home in 2003, I learnt the whole extent of the trouble that I had created for my family.
I studied English at the Exile Government Library for two years. I managed to find an American sponsor who gave me 700 rupees ($15) per month to study English. I found a place to share with two other Tibetans who were also studying English. Those two years were so hard, we ate one piece of bread in the morning, no lunch and then dinner. Our dinner was always noodles with potato and onion. I still do not eat breakfast these days because of this experience. Our rent was 250 rupee each per month, and 250 rupee for food, which left me only 200 rupees for the whole month.
During those two years I had no formal classes – I studied from tourists who were travelling around India. I think I changed over 100 teachers, because most of them came to Dharamsala for only a few weeks. In those days we had many young Tibetans who hung around the Library to look for Westerners. When we spotted one we would go to him/her and ask “excuse me, can I practice my English with you?”. Most of them were very good to us, and taught us English for a few days or a few weeks.
In those two years while I studied English so hard, I managed to find a job at the Norbulingka Institute. The Norbulingka Institute is dedicated to preserving and handing down the Tibetan traditions and raising the standards for Tibetans by providing training, education and employment. It creates and supports an environment in which the Tibetan community and family values can flourish. It respectfully reconciles traditional creativity with the modern, and seeks to create an international awareness of Tibetan values and their expression in art and literature.
I held the position of Cafe Manager for one year, and then I was promoted to the Manager of the Museum.
I met my previous Australian wife at Norbulingka Institute where she worked as a volunteer graphic designer. We were the same age and had fallen in love. In 1996 we were married in India at the Hotel Tibet which was then the biggest hotel in Dharamsala. We set up a silk screen business and printed our own design t-shirts. We sold them in McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala) to foreign tourists to raise money for my air ticket to Australia. I came to Australia in 1997.
I worked as a disabled support worker for four years in Sydney. I studied English and completed a Tour Guide course through TAFE in Sydney. During that time I also set up a travel company called Snow Lion Travel (In Tibet the snow lion represents unconditional cheerfulness, a mind free of doubt, clear and precise). I took two tour groups to India, but because of a lack of experience and not enough funds I had to close the company.
Unfortunately my marriage did not survive. I moved to Brisbane in 2003 and have been living here ever since. I have been selling goods from India and Tibet at the weekend markets for four years and I work five days a week as a disabled support work.
I found love again. I was in India visiting friends when I met a shy Tibetan girl who was the sister of one of my close friends. We spent time together and I realized that she was the one for me. We shared many interests and beliefs and a cultural background. Kalsang had been born in India to Tibetan parents in Southern India and was intelligent, articulate and University educated as well as pretty. She was an Auditor with the Tibetan Government in Exile and had completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree in India.
Kalsang and I were married in 2005 and she moved to Brisbane Australia to start a new life with me. We have been blessed with two beautiful children – Samten, a girl, who is 6 and Kalden, a boy, who is 4.
I have visited Tibet many times during which I have met many poor families whose living conditions are desperate. All these families have difficulty sending their children to school in order to get a proper education and find it hard to feed themselves. I have also met many University students who are forced to live on bread for three meals a day due to the cost of school fees. In Tibet, the average labour worker’s wage is 120 Yuan a day which is equal to $20 AU, the university fee per semester is 4500 to 6000 Yuan ($675 – $900 AU).
Through meeting so many poor families, I learnt that many Tibetan families are experiencing the same conditions that my family experienced. I feel that so many children are forgotten, and it is these ‘forgotten’ ones who concern me the most.
I realized that I have a passion to try and answer the calls of the poor children who are eager to learn. I believe education is a path to freedom and liberation.
All these reasons gave me the motivation to set up the Tibetan Education Fund Inc. (TEF) together with the help of with some similarly minded friends. So far, the TEF are sponsoring around 163 disadvantaged children from multiple Tibetan regions. The children are attending Middle School, College and University. We also managed to build new gates, pave school grounds, and to paint Jamo and Dorshul Schools. We have also provided chairs and tables for Dorshul School and continue to regularly provide stationery for many schools.
In 2012 we have managed to open a Childcare Centre for local poor farming children. So far we look after
46 children with the help of two teachers and a cook. The cost for running the Centre is $750+ per month. The entire cost to run the Centre is coming from TEF’s regular events in Brisbane. It has been a challenging year for TEF with the Childcare Centre, but rewarding as we are providing early education to 46 children and their families.
Based on their finances, different families have highly differing educational opportunities. Many Tibetans are not able to send their children to school because of their financial situation and living conditions. Due to being farmers, their children must work on the farm or herd livestock. In addition, even the families which can afford to send their children to school cannot do so because there are no preschool or kindergarten programs in the villages. The aim of the Childcare Centre is to provide basic education and health care to children so they may have new opportunities in the emerging world. Some of them may even become Doctors or Teachers.
In other areas in the regions, children start preschool or kindergarten at the age of four. However, in Rebgong (and other parts of Tibet), children do not have the opportunity to start their basic education in pre-school and kindergarten due to the lack of pre-school and kindergarten facilities. Therefore, children only have the option to start learning basics at the age of seven. However, a seven year old in other parts of China would already have gained enough knowledge to read and write. Therefore, Tibetan children in areas like Rebgong lag behind other students in basic education and never really have the opportunity to catch up.
Vision for Tibetan Education Fund Inc.
Preserving Tibetan culture is vitally important for the future of all Tibetans.
The survival of the unique Tibetan Culture is dependent upon the children of Tibet. Further, the children of Tibet need education to improve their lives over that of their parents –the same aspirations as we have for our children in the West.
The TEF’s main priority is to provide an opportunity for disadvantaged children to study and to create more opportunities for their future. In 2014 we would like to extend the TEF sponsorship program. Our aim is twofold:
- To extend our reach to more students from all over Tibet. The ability to go to Middle School and beyond to University is something that many students in rural Tibet can only dream about. Our goal is to make that a reality for as many students as possible.
- To continue to run the Childcare Centre. The families who utilize the Centre have come to understand the value of the Centre and are starting to reap the benefits from having their children cared for in such a way. The children in the Childcare Centre are flourishing from the teaching and the healthy environment created by the dedicated teachers. We have provided employment for the teachers and the cook which is important to the local community. It is vital to keep this Centre alive for the residents of Rebgong.
In order to achieve our goals, we need your support to help us to help these children.
Mr. Wanday Dondrup
Chair, Tibetan Education Fund Inc.
Phone: 0422 720 542
Dear TEF Friend: Tashi Delek!
Wanday and all the TEF team hopes you enjoyed the holiday season and are ready for a big 2014. TEF has some exciting plans for this coming year, more about that later, first our update from Wanday after his return from Tibet.
The Bumkhang Childcare Centre welcomed another new student in December so that’s takes our numbers to 46 at the moment. Wanday is happy to report that the centre is running smoothly with the children enjoying their classes and activities along with the nutritious lunches provided every day. Your donations will ensure that the centre stays operational during 2014. Wanday’s children were happy to join in with the activities and lunch on a regular basis while visiting Tibet.
Many thanks to Perfect Potion for the creams and donations for Lemo Sham that Wanday was able to deliver personally. The availability of on going creams has made treatment of Lemo Sham’s eczema much easier and her quality of life has improved greatly.
A sad case presented itself to Wanday, that of a young Tibetan man Lhabum. Lhabum had suffered a spinal injury from a fall off a truck while working. Unlike Australia there is no compensation or help available to him in Tibet. He has been totally bedridden for the past 1 ½ years with his wife as his carer, responsible for his feeding, cleaning and movement to help ease pressure sores.
Wanday went onto do what he could for the couple and managed to raise 55,000 Chinese Yuan from family and local businesses to enable Lhabum to spend some time in hospital receiving pain relief and some rehabilitation and also a little time of respite for his wife. Wanday has shown the local people how to come together to help one of their fellow Tibetans and he hopes that this help will continue on for Lhabum.
So onto 2014 and a reminder to you all of the Festival of Tibet to be held at the Powerhouse New Farm from the 22nd to 26th January. An exciting program is on offer and you can get all the details from www.festivaloftibet.com.au .
Also in 2014 TEF is offering a grassroots tours of Tibet! Very exciting news, so book your holidays for July 2014 so you can join us on this tour Tibet Unplugged. The tour is for 18 days including some days with local families, also visiting Lhasa, Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.
We will arrive during the time of the Shaman Festival in Tongren so that you can experience first hand the culture and dancing that this festival presents. Travel is with a tour guide from Tibet and in a private mini bus. The itinerary and pricing are on our website, just follow the link to our tour page.
Why not arrange with some of your friends to join with you for this chance to visit Tibet and see it with a local Tibetan, it will be a unique experience of this amazing country and its people.
Many thanks to all who enable TEF’s work to continue through our $10 per month sponsorship program, please direct anyone interested in our Childcare Centre to this link.
Please come and say hi to us at the Festival of Tibet, we would love to meet our supporters in person.
Wanday and the TEF team.
TEF Newsletter January 2014