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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

The Tibetan Women's Association -- The Spirit of Independence

March 19, 2009

Manasa Pamaraju
The Desicritics
March 18, 2009

I happen to attend a Leadership program for the
Tibetan Women’s Association. Least to say, it was
a wonderful experience that very few trainers in
the corporate sector can hope to get. It is more
than just the training experience that I wanted to talk here.

On the 50th anniversary of Tibetan occupation by
the Chinese, there was a lot said by some of the
most leading newspapers such as the New York
Times and the UK Times and quoted one of the most
prominent speakers of Tibetan struggle – His
Holiness The Dalai Lama. When I attended this
program, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet
the Tibetan women and know more about their
lives. I realized how disconnected we are from
the rest of the world. At least, most of us
remain apathetic to the concerns of others, or in
a more mellowed tone, I would say, we remain
preoccupied with our own lives that we do not
recognize or understand the depth of others' problems and concerns.

I realized for the first time, how much we should
value the independence that we enjoy today. When
I spoke to the Tibetan women, they told me that
many of them have to live in India, away from
their families, in order to pursue their
education. Their calls are screened and hence can
barely talk anything more than just pleasantries.
Written mails are also scanned by the Chinese
Government and hence cannot even write proper
mails. Some of them try to send them through
their fellow Tibetans who might be visiting
Lhasa. But, this opportunity is also rare and not
often a very safe means. The Chinese Government
could improve the Tibetan region with the latest
infrastructure facilities, but what use is it, if
the basic human rights are curtailed? Some of the
women we spoke to felt curtailed and always felt
inferior or may be less privileged to be living outside their homeland.

In the course of the program, these women came up
with their stories. Some had to leave their
parents behind in the pursuit of a better life
and to continue to help free Tibet and some had
been orphaned. Dharmsala in Himachal Pradesh is
the center for all the activities for the
Tibetans outside Tibet and it is also the
official seat from where H.H The Dalai Lama
operates. There is a boarding school which is run
by the Tibetans, for the Tibetan children. This
school takes care of all the requirements of
these children and enables them to stand on their
feet. The primary mode of teaching is Tibetan for
these children in the boarding schools and they
are taught of Tibetan culture and values. They
seem to have one issue, when mingling with
Indians, especially in the north that of the
Hindi language. Well, most of the South Indians
are also a part of similar conflict when trying
to speak in Hindi. These students also practice
Buddhism. Some of the students of the boarding
school later become the teachers and we had one
such lady amongst us. These women might look
frail and quiet in appearance, but there is
something very strong inside them that evokes respect for them.

I met a dynamic young lady who had represented
Tibet at various international forums and now
works in a NGO. She shared her experiences with
us. She and her sister were orphaned and somehow
managed to run to India. They received extreme
care and affection from the boarding school that
they did not miss their family. One can see the
pain and anguish in many of them, but on the same
level they are women one would want to be
associated with. She and a group of friends
started a Tibetan Radio – Voice of Tibet.

Their objective is:

"Voice of Tibet’s main objectives are to provide
a channel for unbiased information and news to
the Tibetans living under Chinese oppression in
Tibet, to help preserve the threatened Tibetan
culture, to educate the Tibetans in
internationally acknowledged human rights, to
inform about democracy and the democratic
institutions of the Tibetan exile community, and
to help prevent conflicts and discrimination.
Another main objective is to improve
communications within as well as between the Tibetan exile communities.”

Another young lady was a practicing
physiotherapist who regularly takes time out to
do some free service for various people. There
was also a bright software engineer and budding
statistician and many others who still have the
spirit of Tibet going in them and would someday
want to see a free Tibet. Amongst them, were also
some who don’t connect with Tibet and are
apathetic to its cause. It is obvious to have
such feelings, if they are born outside Tibet and
have experienced a free life here in India. It is
not easy to continue to fight for freedom while living outside your homeland.

TWA takes care of the Tibetan women and helps
them stand on their feet. This Leadership program
is also a step in helping the women in their
quest for a better life and to keep the spirit of Tibet and freedom alive.

Honestly, this experience made me grateful for my
freedom and also made me realize how much we
abuse it. I feel that the Tibetans should receive
all the support and they should continue to fight
for their freedom. It is every individual’s birth
right and the Chinese Government can never be
supported for any kind of justifications they might give.

Signing off with a fervent wish for a free Tibet!

An Indian in spirit, an artist in thoughts, a
professional at work, Manasa is a writer at
heart, who reflects on everything that is going
on around her and the world at large. To unravel
more about her, please visit Unravellling the Enamoured Enigma
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