Wanday’s Story 1/3
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”.