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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Monk Jamyang’s work at Dharamsala slums a service that changed a landscape

February 6, 2008

By Ajai Srivastava from Dharamsala
Organiser, India
February 10, 2008

For teenagers also, he has programmes to change their life. A weekly
school is run for them as they cannot afford to pursue daily studies
leaving aside their routine job to pick rags. Rano (17), said, “We have
learnt a lot in that school. I am also learning stitching and want to
leave ragpicking in time to come. Guruji teaches us about moral values
and how to adopt them in our life.”

He is not a teacher by profession, but people call him guruji. Without
being a doctor, he heals up ailing wounds. He has done miracles,
although he does not practice tantra. For many people, he is a lunatic
as he has ‘spent’ his life for those who do not have any relation of
cast, religion, language, race, or nationality with him. One can easily
see a glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his eyes. He himself
speaks less; his work in the dirty slums of Charan Khadd near beautiful
hill station Dharamsala speaks in volumes.

Yes, we are talking about a young Tibetan refugee monk Jamyang (33) who
has taken up the cause of the slum dwellers for the last couple of
years. His target group is the community of migrated ragpickers and
beggars of Rajasthan and Maharashtra who live in pathetic conditions in
the shanties at Charan Khadd. An old resident of the area, Dayal, said,
“Guruji, for all of us, is like a devata. He helps us a lot in solving
every problem. We had never imagined that a person would come to show us
the path of salvation.” According to Sito Devi, “Earlier Guruji used to
give us foodgrains and woolens and we accepted the same as beggars. But
after that he changed his line of action and started two tuition tents
in the dirty slums. At that time we were rather surprised and annoyed.
Now we have realised that he is trying to change the destiny of our
generations.”

Jamyang had fled from Tibet at the age of 19 in 1993 to save his life
from the occupant Chinese. He thought that after living in India, he
would pursue his higher studies in Buddhism. When he reached Dharamsala,
he was sent to a monastery in Karnataka for the purpose. He returned to
Dharamsala in 2001 for further studies. There he came in contact with
the children of Charan Khadd in 2002, who used to beg in the streets and
pick rags. With them only he went to the slums and started distribution
of foodgrains and clothes.

Talking to Organiser Jamyang said, “It was not a good experience. There
hunger could not be satisfied by providing them the material, rather it
increased in many folds. Then I came to understand that the solution to
the problem is something else. My new opinion was that if good health
facilities to all of them and education to the young generation is
provided, they would be able to break the vicious circle of poverty.
Since 2003, I am focusing in that area. I have also a good team of
dedicated volunteers with me.”

The kids in two tuition tents in the slums were prepared for admission
to public schools but no good school in Dharamsala was ready to accept
the boys and girls from slums. A sensitive principal of local Dayanand
Model School gave admission to ten boys and ten girls. Jamyang started a
hostel for them with all modern facilities and good wardens. Smt. Meera
Chauhan, the then principal of Dayanand Model School said, “At the time
of there admission, my staff was reluctant due to the background of the
kids. But you will be surprised to know that all of them are among the
best students of the school. They are the toppers of their class and
excellent in extra-curricular activities also. We are really proud of them.”

The hostel is like a heaven for the kids. Little Pinky in the hostel
said, “We are lucky enough to have a saint like Guruji with us. I want
to become a pilot.” Nisha and Kiran have dreams to become doctor. They
said, “Guruji is our role model and we want to serve the people like
him.” Smt Navita and Shri Narendra Kumar, the wardens of the hostel told
this reporter that the kids are very sincere and disciplined and
participate in all extra-curricular activities along with their studies.

For teenagers also, he has programmes to change their life. A weekly
school is run for them as they cannot afford to pursue daily studies
leaving aside their routine job to pick rags. Rano (17), said, “We have
learnt a lot in that school. I am also learning stitching and want to
leave ragpicking in time to come. Guruji teaches us about moral values
and how to adopt them in our life.”

The monk in 2004 got a trust registered named Tong-len Charitable Trust
and started his work in a very systematic manner. He provides free good
health facilities to all the resident of the slums. A weekly clinic is
run on every Tuesday where a doctor and paramedical staff attends the
patients. Serious patients are sent to Dharamsala Government hospital
and also to P.G.I. Chandigarh.

Beeru, Shankar, and Meenu are among the dedicated volunteers that
Jamyang have. They take classes in tuition tents, accompany patients to
hospital, and do all other social activities as per the guidance of
their Guruji.

Now Jamyang has planned to start another hostel for 100 children this
year. Not only this, he had got a survey conducted in all the slum areas
of Himachal Pradesh. The survey report reveals that around 10,000 people
live in the slums in all the districts of the state. All of them are
from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar, Orissa, and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Nobody came forward to give the permanent solution to their problems.
According to Jamyang, “The results of our work in Charan Khadd are very
encouraging. Now the experience we gained would help us to expand our
work in all the slum areas of this beautiful state.”

On questions like who inspired him to take up this cause and what are
the financial resources with him, he very humbly replied, “It is all due
to the grace of the God. I realised that the real service of Lord Buddha
is the service to suffering humanity. I try to do my duty as per the
preaching of Buddha and the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. My
only source of income is donations which I collect from the people who
come to seek blessing from His Holiness.” On another question, he
categorically said the conversion of people from one religion to another
through service is a sin in the eyes of Dharma and he would never allow
these kinds of activities in his area of work.
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