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Tibetan orphans hope to visit Tibet one day

November 25, 2009

Maitreyee Boruah Bangalore, m.boruah@ians.in
IANS
November 24, 2009

Bangalore -- Achoe does not remember much of his
childhood in Tibet. The 18-year-old, now in an
orphanage in Karnakata, left his motherland when
he was around four. But all these years, all he
has yearned for is to go back home and meet his relatives.

"I have no knowledge about my family back in
Tibet. I left Tibet when I was a small kid and
been in Bylakuppe ever since. I hardly get news
about my people. However, one day I would like to
go back to Tibet and meet my family," Achoe -- a
resident of Tibetan SOS Children's Village --
told IANS, on the sidelines of a three-day
Tibetan cultural festival which got under way here Nov 22.

Similar is the predicament of Yangchen, a
17-year-old resident of the same orphanage in
Bylakuppe, around 250 km from here.

"I was too small to remember anything about
Tibet. I have no home in Tibet. Thus it's been
almost 12 years and I am staying in the
children's village. I too would one day like to
go back to Tibet and meet my family and friends," said Yangchen.

Achoe is in Class 11 and Yangchen in Class 12 at
the school in the children's village, both in the commerce stream.

It's not just the youngsters but elders too, who
have been staying in India for several decades, yearn to go back to Tibet soon.

Dhondup Tsering, the 52-year-old principal of the
children's village who has been in India for 49
years, wants to go back to Tibet now.

"My uncle brought me to India when I was three
years old. I have not seen my parents since I
left them. I heard that both are dead now," said
Tsering, blinking back tears. He has been working
at the orphanage for 16 years.

"Almost similar is the fate of all Tibetan
refugees in India. All of us want an end to
Chinese occupation of Tibet so that we can go
back to Tibet," Kunga Dorjee, an official of the
Central Tibetan Administration (South Zone), Bangalore, told IANS.

"The cultural event here is to thank India, the
country and its people, for providing homes to
Tibetan refugees for five long decades," added Dorjee.

Around 50 children from the orphanage are here
for the festival. They showcased traditional
Tibetan folk dances, including Namkha Yarla (sky
cloud), a dance from central Tibet, on the first
day of the event. The children also sang a special "Thank you India" song.

The event at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath
here has been organised by the department of
information and international relations, central
Tibetan administration (in exile), Dharamsala,
joined by the office of the chief representative
and the five Tibetan settlements in Karnataka.

"The Tibetan cultural festival brought to
Bangalore 'chaam' dance, monastic chanting, film
screenings, documentary shows, panel discussions,
lectures and other cultural events, depicting the
socio-political life of Tibetans," said Dorjee.

The Tibetan SOS Children's Village at Bylakuppe
was opened in 1981. Today it is home to 1,514
boys and girls in the age group of six to 22.
While providing formal education, the orphanage
ensures that all the children under its care get
a firm cultural identity and become self-reliant.

It's been five decades since thousands of Tibetan
refugees made India their home after a failed
uprising against Chinese occupation of Tibet in
1959. Of the 120,000-odd Tibetan refugees in
India, about 44,000 reside in the five
settlements in the state -- one in Chamrajnagar,
two in Bylakuppe, one in Hunsur and one in Mundgod in Uttara Kannada district.
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