The Chenrezig Fund



 

 










News

1. H.H. the 17th Karmapa Visits TCH/
New TCH Annex Completed
2. Chenrezig Fund at TCH
3. Grant to Upgrade TCH Kitchen
4. More Children from Tawang

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H.H. the 17th Karmapa Visits TCH/
New TCH Annex Completed

 


On September 2, 2012, The Children’s Home (TCH) celebrated the completion of the new TCH Annex with a splendid Inaugural Ceremony.  The Annex was built as the second floor above the Main Dining and Study Hall and includes a much-needed infirmary, two additional dormitories for the younger children, living quarters for a matron, and additional toilet and bathing facilities.  It is one of the most important TCH accomplishments in several years.

The Inaugural Ceremony was an extraordinary occasion in itself, and was graced by His Holiness the 17th Galway Karmapa as the Honored Guest.  The Karmapa is the Spiritual Head of the Karma Kagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and potentially the spiritual successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  All those fortunate enough to attend the ceremony with such a high lama will remember this rare opportunity for a long time.

The TCH children, staff and several volunteers spent two full days preparing for H.H. the Karmapa’s official visit, cleaning and decorating the campus and practicing songs and dances to perform for the Karmapa.  Gompo Tsering, Founding TCH Director, welcomed the Karmapa, provided a short history of TCH and introduced each cultural performance.  In turn, the Karmapa blessed the new Annex and offered a brief teaching on the importance of kindness and humility. 

Eager to perform well for the Karmapa, the children were at first rather nervous but soon turned their anxiety to delight and danced brilliantly from the very depths of their hearts.  Several students were so profoundly moved by this opportunity to dance for the Karmapa that they vowed to sincerely practice the teachings they had received that day. 

The children and staff wish to thank the TCH supporters for the integral part they play in providing  a solid grounding in their unique Tibetan cultural traditions.  With such support they know they will continue to have opportunities to learn and keep alive the ancient traditions of their ancestors. The TCH children and staff shall gratefully remember such kind  generosity for the rest of their lives.




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Chenrezig Fund Comes to the Tibetan Children’s Home

For the past 15 years, donors to the Chenrezig Fund and its Board and volunteers have invested much time and money to help with the development of the Tibetan Children’s Home (TCH). TCH was the first organization of its kind: a residential facility established, administered and staffed privately by a group of Tibetan refugees, enabling Tibetan youth from impoverished Tibetan refugee families to obtain a good elementary and secondary education in a Tibetan cultural context.

Last year, for the first time, the Chenrezig Fund sent some of its volunteers to TCH to provide direct assistance with its operations. The cost of these consultations was paid directly by the persons traveling to TCH. In February 2010, Tsering Chozom Kindy, CF Chair and President, spent two weeks at TCH conferring with the administration and having discussions with several of the children. In her report to the CF Board, Tsering stated she was quite impressed with the dedication of the TCH staff and the quality of care they provided for children of all ages. She was also impressed with the level of caring and cooperation among the children. Several of the children agreed that they were quite happy living at TCH: “it’s like one big family of brothers and sisters.”



In addition to her observations, Tsering was asked to preside over the regional basketball tournament held at TCH and present trophies to the winning teams. The TCH girls team won first place and the TCH boys team came in with a close second. Tsering was also asked to present the Piya Dolma Scholarship Award to Kunga Lekdup, this year’s recipient of this scholarship award. Being able to present the Piya Dolma Scholarship was a special privilege since the annual scholarship was established to honor of her mother, Piya Dolma. Piya Dolma was instrumental establishing TCH for she provided the inspiration for the development of TCH.

Towards the end of her visit, Tsering was the guest of honor at a Cultural Show of song and dance presented by the TCH children. She was impressed by the variety of traditional Tibetan dances the children knew and their beautiful costumes from different regions in Tibet. She was especially pleased to learn that the TCH children themselves learned many of the dances from each other. Having enjoyed disco dancing in her youth, Tsering was also delighted by the children’s inventive dances set to contemporary Indian and western music.



All in all, Tsering was pleased with her time at TCH and was very much impressed with the quality of the care the staff provided and the children’s cheerfulness, sincere devotion to their school work and delight in learning about their native cultural traditions.

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In March 2010, Skip Kindy, Chenrezig Fund Executive Director, spent a month at TCH. The main purpose of his visit was to consult with the TCH Board and Administration and tutor the children in English to supplement their school work. Skip also brought with him about 150 books for the TCH library, including a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, some sidewalk chalk for a large-scale drawing contest, and several bags of candies that were quite popular with the children.

The children enjoyed a variety of ways to learn more English, including a scavenger hunt, games of Scrabble, verbal quizzes (“what’s wrong with this sentence”), the dictionary game and charades. The older children also had an opportunity for a more formal approach to English grammar (e.g., declension of the verb “to be” and pronouns). However, the children found that they learned the most by singing English songs, such as “Old McDonald,” “The Alphabet Song,” “ Brother John” (in English, French and Tibetan!), “Comin’ Around the Mountain.” The most popular song – and the most difficult – was Michael Jackson’s “We Are The World” that the children’s ensemble sang at the Cultural Show just before the end of Skip’s visit.





Singing Together

In meetings with the TCH Board and administration, Skip worked with them to clarify and improve their administrative structure and roles. These meetings also lead to the achievement of some short-term goals to improve the TCH campus for the children (e.g., upgrade the kitchen utilities, repaint the entire campus) and the development some long-range plans and priorities for future improvements (e.g., expand the dormitory space, raise funds to purchase traditional Tibetan musical instruments and hire a part-time song and dance teacher). One of the most important decisions that came out of these meetings was the resolution to give the poorest of the poor Tibetan families priority for admission to TCH. This resolution formally ratifies the TCH mission to give Tibetan refugee children an opportunity to get a good education, regardless of their financial situation.

In addition to these consultations, Skip worked with some of the TCH staff to improve their ability to use Microsoft Work and Microsoft Excel. He also worked with them on the use of the internet and e-mail to improve communications between TCH, Chenrezig Fund and other organizations.

Skip’s time at TCH was quite successful on all sides. The children had a lot of fun while learning several new songs and improving their English. The consultations enabled the administration to function more efficiently and effectively. And Skip was quite pleased, having spent much time with new friends and making a true difference in their lives.





Scenes from the Chalk Drawing Contest

Towards the end of his stay at TCH, Sonam Singhe, Chair of the TCH Board, asked if Skip would consider visiting TCH again and to work with the children and the staff as he had done. With no hesitation, Skip agreed. The plan at this point is for Skip to come to TCH every year and stay for 3-4 months. During the rest of the year, he will be raising funds for TCH and for other projects that the Chenrezig Fund helps support. In addition to his work at TCH, Skip will be tutoring in English at the Tibetan Nehru Memorial Foundation School, also located in Dhundupling Tibetan Colony, Clement Town, Dehra Dun, India. He welcomes anyone to join him in working with the children or/and staff at TCH.

For further information about the Tibetan Children's Home, please visit their website at:
www.tibetanchildrenshome.org.

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Generous Donation Enables TCH to Upgrade Its Kitchen Facilities

Recently, a substantial contribution from a generous donor enabled the Chenrezig Fund to award a grant to TCH to upgrade its kitchen facilities. After many years of service, the stove and refrigerator were no longer suitable to prepare meals for over 100 children and staff. The three-burner propane gas stove that had been built out of brick was falling apart and the woefully inadequate refrigerator was on its last legs.



Removing the Old Stove

Once the TCH staff learned of the grant they obtained bids from several different companies and eventually decided on a three-burner stainless steel stove and a commercial refrigerator/freezer custom made by a local company that specializes in kitchen equipment. The bid from this company was so reasonable that TCH was also able to purchase a chapatti grill with the same grant funds. The chapatti grill enables the TCH cooks to quickly make a large number of fresh chapattis for the children and staff. TCH ordered the kitchen equipment at the beginning of April. They were made to order and installed within two weeks.



The new stove and chapattil grill installed.



The new refrigerator

The TCH cooks are very grateful for the new kitchen equipment. It makes it much easier for them to make better food for the children and staff.

To complete the renovation of the kitchen, the Chenrezig Fund is now raising the $1,000 necessary to have the same company make an exhaust fan and hood for the kitchen. The kitchen never had an exhaust hood and the fan is broken. Those wishing to make a contribution towards the exhaust fan and hood can send a check to the Chenrezig Fund, 211 Campbell St, Madison, WI 53711-2203


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Children
From Tawang


After 15 years of increasing effectiveness and growth, the Board of the Tibetan Children’s Home (TCH) has decided to offer its servicese primarily to the poorest of the poor Tibetan families. Over the next several years, TCH will be giving preference for admission to children from families that the regional Tibetan Welfare Offices identify as most impoverished. In this way, TCH plans to give as many children as possible an opportunity for a good education, regardless of their financial situation. Of course this focus on serving the poorest of the poor will require the support of several more potential sponsors.

In August 2009, TCH took the first step to implement this initiative. At the request of the Tibetan Welfare Office in the Tawang district of the State of Arunachal Pradesh in far northeastern India, the TCH Board invited four young Tawang girls to come live and study at TCH. The families of these four girls are quite impoverished, at times unable to provide proper clothing and regular meals for their families, much less afford to send their children to school.

The pilot project has been quite successful. The four children have settled into their new surroundings and are progressing well in school. Wanting to build on this success, just before Christmas 2010 TCH brought another nine children from Tawang to live and study at the Home. The welfare office that is managing this undertaking in Tawang had requested that TCH bring all nine children at the same time. Since TCH lacks adequate discretionary funds to support this many children, all these children needed to have a sponsor arranged before any of them can take up residence at TEFS.



Fortunately, the Chenrezig Fund was able to locate a sponsor for each new Tawang child in late 2011, giving these children the gifts of literacy and education. Special thanks goes out to these sponsors for their generosity and compassion.

Background on Tawang and the Monpa People



Tawang district is located in the far reaches of northeast India. It is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. The central town, also called Tawang, sits in the midst of the Eastern Himalayas at 13,500 feet above sea level. The climate is alpine with cool summers that are only three months long and bitterly cold and snowy winters. Several distinct cultural groups rooted in Tibetan culture live in and near Tawang. The indigenous Monpa, an agrarian people with deep roots in Tibetan culture, make up the majority of the population.

Many ancient Tibetan cultural traditions continue to be a way of life in the district. The Tawang Monastery is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist monasteries on the Indian subcontinent. The Sixth Dalai Lama was born in Tawang and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama spent some time there during his 1959 flight from the invading Chinese army. The Dalai Lama has stated that, in the long run, the Monpa people in Tawang will play a primary role in preserving the Tibetan culture, language and religion.

Although Tawang is a very special place, the living conditions for many of the Monpas are quite poor. These conditions have a significant effect on the health and growth of the Monpa children. Many families can provide their children with only one simple meal per day and often their clothing is barely adequate for such a cold climate. School is a luxury that most poor families cannot afford.

The Dalai Lama has urged those who are concerned about the preservation of Tibet’s ancient culture to provide these needy Monpa families with support during these difficult times. By giving the poor Monpa children with good nutrition and living conditions and an opportunity to obtain a good education at TCH, they will be properly prepared to improve their living conditions, become self-reliant and maintain the precious Tibetan culture.