The Chenrezig Fund


A Success Story: Rinchen Tsephel

I was born in Phayang Skiltang, Ladhak 23 years ago. My father is a farmer growing wheat and potatoes. Farming in Ladak is difficult because of the poor soil quality and the cold and uncertain climate. My mother is a primary school teacher. She also cares for my grandparents. My two brothers are students, one in Ladhak and one in Simla.

I have been very fortunate in my life. Thanks to the Tibetan Children’s Home and my Chenrezig Fund sponsor, I have been able to get a good education. When I was 12 years old, my uncle brought me to the Tibetan Children’s Home. He knew about the Home since he had been friends with Mr. Gompo Tsering, the Director at that time. Since my parents were unable to pay for my schooling, Mr. Gompo was sympathetic and found me some sponsors to pay for my schooling. My sponsors were Mr. Norman Sheppard and Dr. Janice Sheppard. Their generous contributions to the Home paid for almost my entire schooling. Without their help, I never would have been able to get an education and my future would have been difficult. I owe my life to their kindness.

I studied hard in school, although I only received average scores. However, I passed Class X and Class XII national examinations on my first attempt. Computers and political science were my favorite courses. I love computers and have my own laptop in my room. In my last year at the Home, I became Hostel Captain for the boys and tried my best to help the younger students in many ways. I very much enjoyed all the sports I could play at the Tibetan Children’s Home and I played a lot with other students and in competitions.

I completed Grade XII in 2008 and planned to study in New Delhi to become a computer software engineer. However, when I traveled to Delhi, I found that it was very expensive. And I missed being at the Home. So I returned Clement Town to study computer engineering for three years and to help with the Tibetan Children’s Home. I felt a certain responsibility to the Home since it had helped me so much for over ten years. Now I help the staff in many things and am very happy and am glad to be able to repay their kindheartedness in this way.

Mr. Sonam Chophel and Mr. Tsegyal are wonderful managers for a place like the Tibetan Children’s Home. I really like their way of thinking and acting: always very frank but very kind and friendly at the same time. I like them both very much. Everything they do is done to help all the children and staff. From Mr. Sonam Chophel I have learned many things about the best way to respond to students and other staff. And I am so very grateful that they have given me the opportunity to take further studies.

I am now in my second year at the National Institute of Industrial Technology in Dehra Dun, India studying a three year program in software engineering. When I complete the program in 2011 I will have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Technology. Then I will take the necessary remaining courses to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree. My dream is to become an independent software engineer in Dehra Dun, India.

Yeshi Dolkar


My name is Yeshi Dolkar. I was born in Bhutan in 1990. My family was originally from U-Tsang Province in Tibet. When the Chinese army invaded Tibet, my grandparents escaped to Bhutan and my family has lived there since then. My parents were only 12 years old when our family settled in Bhutan. When they grew older, they met and married and gave birth to me, my brother and my sister. My mother still lives in Bhutan but my father died suddenly just four months ago. I miss him very much. He was so loving and kind and always encouraged me and trusted my decisions.

In 1998, my aunt, Tsering Choedon, and her husband, Gompo Tsering, invited my sister and me to join the Tibetan Children’s Home (TCH) near Dehra Dun, India. They had opened this Home to give Tibetan students a place where they could live while studying at the nearby Tibetan Nehru Memorial Foundation School. They also gave the students help with their school work so they could get good marks in school.

Gompo Tsering said that he would find us sponsors since our parents were unable to pay the fees for staying at TCH. My sponsor was Miss Peggy Ahlgren from Wisconsin, USA. Although I do not know her very much, I shall never forget her kindness that made my education at TCH possible.

Since the schools for Tibetans in Bhutan were not very good, my sister and I decided to study at TCH. That was the best decision I ever made. My nine years at TCH was wonderful. In fact, I feel TCH and my school taught me everything I ever learned. I saw how important it is to discover the reasons for doing what we do and saying what we say. I realized how important it is to communicate with all kinds of people, for you never know what you might learn from them or how they might help you some day. I learned I needed to practice, practice, practice to learn something well. I also made an effort to learn such things as sports and debate and other activities that did not involved school work. Some people say that I have a hunger for knowledge and I guess that is true.

I graduated in 2007 from the Tibetan Nehru Memorial Foundation School. I had earned the highest grades in the entire school. At first, I thought I would apply to a B.A. program for further studies. However, my mother pointed out that a B.A. program is quite long and may not lead to a good job for a foreigner living in Bhutan. She suggested that I think about going to school for a nursing diploma. Her idea seemed very good to me since the program is only 3 ½ years long and it would be much easier for me to get a job that pays well. Also, nursing sick patients is a kind, loving occupation.

In 2007 I started my nursing diploma program at Kailash Institute in Noida, UP, India. I am in the General Nursing and Midwifery program and will graduate in March 2011. Since with a diploma I can only work on a contract basis in Bhutan, I plan to start to work and at the same time continue my education and earn a BA in nursing so I can be hired in a permanent position and work as a staff nurse, a specialist and even a lecturer. I will then be more able to serve our rural community in Bhutan and tend to the needs of the poor who now must travel quite far to receive any health care.

This is my story. How the kindness and compassion of my parents, my teachers and my sponsors have given this a young Tibetan refugee the opportunity to receive an excellent education and be able to serve others in her life. I shall never forget the precious gift of education that I have gratefully received from my parents, Gompo Tsering and Tsering Choedon, Peggy Ahlgren and the many others who have made me what I am today.

Trinley Namgyal

Trinley Namgyal was the first Tibetan to receive a scholarship through the Chenrezig Scholarship Fund. His untiring and steadfast pursuit of his professional goals made Trinley an outstanding candidate for the award. The scholarship supported Trinley’s academic expenses for the dental hygiene degree program at Madison Area Technical College. After two years of study and praticum, Tinley graduated in May 2001. Shortly thereafter he passed his board examinations. He is now a fully qualified dental hygienist licensed to practice in the State of Wisconsin.

Born in 1961 in small village of Rudok in southern Tibet, Trinley and his family fled the Chinese Communist invasion when he was only one year old and settled in northern India in the remote border village of Jankthank.. His parents died when he was 10 years old and so he and his sister were raised by his uncle. Since there was no school in Jankthank, Trinley had not formal education until, at 15 years of age, he attended the newly opened branch of Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) in Ladakh. Trinley completed Class 8 in 1980 and had to travel to TCV in Dharamsala for Class 9 and 10. He returned to TCV in Ladakh in 1983 to teach some of the younger students, including his sister.

In 1986, the French Tibetan Aid Alliance gave Trinley a scholarship to travel to Niemes, France for a year-long dental technician training program. At the time there were no dental services in that part of Ladakh. When he returned to Ladakh, the French aid organization built a fully equipped dental clinic at TCH-Ladakh and sent a series of dentists to provide services and give Trinley additional training. In 1989, Trinley was again sent to France for another year of training. When he returned, he was able to treat most of the general dental problems at TCV-Ladakh and the surrounding community.

In the early 1990s, Trinley was one of the 1,000 Tibetans chosen to immigrate to the United States under a special provision of the 1990 Immigration Act. In May 1993, he arrived in Madison and, with the help of the Tibetan Resettlement Project-Madison, was settled and self-sufficient within two months. From the beginning, Trinley was hoping that he might find work as a dental assistant but found that in order to practice he needed to obtain a degree in dental hygiene and pass a licensing examination. In order to save for his education, Trinley worked both a full-time job in a dental laboratory and two part time jobs. He also attended English language classes twice a week to improve his reading and writing abilities.

In 1997, Trinley put his name on the two-year waiting list for the dental hygiene degree program at Madison Area Technical College and began taking 1 required course per semester in the evenings. He also married a woman he had known since childhood who had originally resettled with her three children in Burlington, VT. Her full-time salary and Trinley’s savings and part-time work would be sufficient to support their family. A scholarship was necessary to pay for his academic fees and expenses. After several disappointing attempts to find scholarship support, Trinley learned of the new Chenrezig Scholarship Fund, made his application, and received an award that paid for all his academic expenses.

Trinley found the dental hygiene degree program quite challenging. The theory classes were especially difficult since the main focus of his previous training had been on clinical skills. Tinley had to maintain strict discipline and have the full support of his family to maintain an arduous 17 hour per day schedule for two years. His graduation was a culmination of years of preparation, determination, and hard work. His exceptional accomplishment gives him the opportunity to make a good living for his family and to better serve his fellow Tibetans. The Chenrezig Scholarship Fund is very pleased to have had the opportunity to support such a worthy candidate as Trinley Namgyal.

Dolma Tsering

“A helping hand is far better than the praying lips.”

This saying seems so true to me. When the rest of the world was just sympathizing with me and my family’s misfortune, then only the Tibetan Children’s Home (TCH) came forward. It provided me with that helping hand and lifted me from the pit of woes.

I’m talking about that inauspicious month of November 1992, when my so-called happy world was shattered by the news of the elopement of my mother. I was ten years old then and needed a place to stay as my father had to work out of the town to feed me and my sibling. My father couldn’t afford to admit me in a boarding school and no neighbors were willing to keep me.

Then we heard about the scheme of TCH for helping poor children in need like me. So my uncle approached the then director of TCH, Mr. Gompo Tsering, and he was very kind to take me into TCH. Since then I enjoyed the sponsorship provided to me and my stay at TCH. Like every other child, I received proper education, proper accommodations, and the best care from the staff.

I’m 19 years old now and recently completed my schooling with a score of 63.21. I have a keen interest in continuing my studies but for that I needed quite a handsome amount and not everywhere schools and colleges are considerate towards poor people.

Praise to the Almighty that once again TCH responded to my S.O.S. and came to my help in the form of the Piya Dolma Scholarship. I consider myself lucky and honored to be the first student at TCH to get the Scholarship. I wholeheartedly thank each and every staff at TCH and the Board Members of the Chenrezig Fund for awarding me this scholarship.

I hope and pray that I’ll be of some assistance to TCH after my college education as a tribute. My best wishes to the children in TCH and my heartiest appreciation to the sponsors who are equally to be praised for making the children’s future bright.

Profile of a Sponsor

Meg Skinner came to learn of the program to sponsor students at the Tibetan Children's Home in Dehra Dun through her work with international students at Edgewood College. Gompo Tsering, the Director of TCH, was pursuing a Master's Degree in Education at Edgewood at the time, and when she expressed interest in his work, he invited her to a New Year's, or Lozar celebration to promote TCH. At that gathering, in addition to the momo (Tibetan dumplings), there were brief biographies and pictures of students in need of sponsorship, and Meg chose a promising girl, then a student in Dharmasala, Tsetin Dolkar. Meg also persuaded Edgewood's International Club to use the proceeds of that semester's International Food Day to sponsor "the most needy student at TCH."
As it happened, Tsetin Dolkar's father, the staff doctor at TCH, was awarded a Tibetan Fulbright fellowship to study in the USA the following year, and chose to study at the University of Minnesota. When he and his wife visited his sister in Madison the following summer, Meg arranged to meet them and take them to the Corn Maze in Janesville, and to Deer Park en route home. The following year, his scholarship extended, he was able to bring his family to join him, including Tsetin Dolkar, so Meg was able to meet the student she had sponsored, a rare privilege for sponsors.
Since Tsetin Dolkar no longer needed sponsorship in India, Meg, who had given up her work with international students in order to care for her stroke -victim husband and elderly parents, learned of a new Chrenrezig Fund program to provide yearly living expenses to elderly Tibetan refugees in Nepal devoting their declining years to prayer and contemplation. Meg was matched with a woman, Kelsang Dolma, who, like her own father, was blind. As she renewed her sponsorship for a second year, she read the information about the program to her father, pointing out that the cost of sponsorship for one year was identical to the daily cost of one day in her father's nursing home. He immediately offered to sponsor another elder in Nepal, in memory of his wife, who died in March.
Now, when Meg hears news of Tibetans struggle for survival of their culture, she sees the faces not only of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who Meg has been privileged to see twice in Madison, but also of Gompo Tsering, Tsetin Dolkar, and Kelsang Dolma. Tashi Delek indeed.