Tibetan children often pay a high price for the chance of an education. For something we all take for granted in the UK, Tibetan parents often make the traumatic decision to send their children on a perilous and sometimes fatal journey across the Himalayas so they can have an education, be taught in their own language and learn about their culture – something that is not possible inside Tibet. These children arrive in India or Nepal exhausted and homeless; many never see their families again.
Sponsorship continues to be at the core of our work. Our programme has expanded over the years and now helps children from poor and remote Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal whose families cannot afford to educate them, as well as Tibetan monks and nuns for whom our sponsorship not only allows them to learn and practise their Buddhist culture, but also provides them with often their only opportunity to receive a basic education. In 2006 we extended our programme to include elderly Tibetans in need; in these cases sponsorship covers residential care, food and medical costs.
The programme’s success and longevity is down to the amazing support and commitment shown by our supporters in the UK and worldwide. This heart-warming programme often sees sponsors forming close relationships with their beneficiaries through updates and letters. We hear of many delightful instances where sponsors have continued to stay in touch with, sometimes even meeting, the individual they have supported, often long after the child has grown up and developed into a successful adult.
As our sponsorship programme has developed, we are now aiming to help increase the number of children who are able to realise their dreams of going to university. We urgently need to ensure young Tibetans receive a college or university education in order to create a sustainable, professional future for themselves and for Tibet.
We have extended the programme to include the care of those elderly Tibetans who struggle to survive the hardships of daily life.