You just cannot go to McLeod Ganj without taking a day to tour, volunteer, and play with some of the Tibetan orphans at the Tibetan Children’s Village.
Just a little background:
When China invaded Tibet they attempted to crush their culture. You’ve probably seen “Free Tibet” at some point in time, and it’s because most of the world saw that China was unfairly destroying a country. China argues that they helped Tibet from a corrupt government, and although things were not perfect in Tibet, most saw that this was unjust.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is similar to any country leader although he was a spiritual leader as well as political leader. In 2011 he gave up his political leadership and a Prime Minister was elected.
He left Tibet because there was no chance of keeping tradition alive there. The Chinese weren’t allowing children to learn their own language in school! They call this “cultural genocide”. They burnt down the monasteries and tortured the Tibetan scholars.
Indian welcomed 150,000 Tibetan refugees to come live in McLeod Ganj, way up high in the mountains, and to this day, 120,000 stay hoping for the day they get their land back. They are in exile.
1 in 5 Tibetans were killed while they exploited their home’s mineral wealth. There are reports of slave labor complexes that look and sound similar to concentration camps.
In Tibet, Buddhism was life and over 20% of men were monks. After the Chinese occupation, they destroyed this way of life and although this is rebuilding happening, it is not by help of the Chinese. In Mcleod Ganj there are many centers where you’ll meet many monks.
Reports state that not only is China limiting their religious freedoms, but are forcing abortions, infanticide, and sterilizations. Some might say that it’s more than a cultural genocide… Thousands were killed when warlord ma Bufang invaded initially; some organizations recognized it as ethnic cleansing.
Since Chinese occupation, nearly half a million Tibetans have died mainly from starvation.
The 11th Panchem Lama is the second most important person in the theocracy of Tibet. He helps choose who is the reincarnated Dalai Lama after one passes. He was taken from the Tibet people at age 6 and China admitted to keeping him and his family for safety reasons, although he’s known as the youngest political prisoner. He has been held for 16 years but the Tibetan people keep searching for him.
Because of the hopelessness in Tibet, parents sent children alone to India, and now the Children’s Village takes care of over 15,000 needy children. These kids are able to now learn their own language and keep hold of their culture.
The goal is to keep it alive so that they can carry it with them back to Tibet once it is freed. We know, “the children are our future…” as all the pop songs tell us; in this case truly nothing is more important.
Photo Gallery of Tibetan Children’s Village
this kid would not wake up! so funny.
Buy purchasing gifts you can help raise money for the cause, so why not pick up a traditional singing bowl; hand knit clothing, or thangka paintings while you’re there. You can tour the center for free and learn more, but be sure to give a donation after. Even a little bit can go a long way. We loved playing with the kids on their recess break. You can learn directly from the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj (check the schedule online).
“The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one’s life. Through a difficult period you can develop inner strength, determination and courage to face the problems.” – H.H. the Dalai Lama
Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big purple box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on facebook, twitter, instagram & bloglovin‘.
Join my email list and get exclusive updates & news straight to your inbox.
I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Wow. This post has been really helpful. I’ve always wanted to go here, but somehow never made it as yet. Definitely planning a trip here. Also I was checking the donate link, but I guess its broken.. u might want to fix it:)
Oh shoot I’ll figure out how to fix that link- I think it’s down on their site!
The kiddies are SO cute!
What cute kids! And so sad that their parents had to send them away. Genocide of any form is just horrible.
To make things even more complicated: A distant friend of mine is a psychic who was trained by a Tibetan woman who escaped to India and then came to Australia as a refugee. This woman was not Buddhist but was a priestess of the even older Bon Po religion of the region. She told my friend that atrocities were being committed against people of her religion too, by some of the very people being persecuted now. (She even witnessed the murder of her teacher and barely escaped with her own life). I don’t understand all the complexities, but evidently there are layers upon layers of sadness throughout Tibet! Here’s hoping peace comes to everybody involved very very soon.
I’ve read a little bit about it- it is all very complicated. Usually only positive things are said about buddhists and monks but then you hear about what’s happened in Burma, but I suppose there are always 2 sides to a story!
There definitely are 2 sides to every story! When my friend told me all about it she was very critical of the Buddhists, but I can understand this because she is so loyal to her teacher, who went through so much. (I won’t bring you down by detailing too much of it, but I can email you if you’d like to know. A lot of it is too horrible to even comprehend.) But from my perspective, I didn’t want to point fingers or play the blame game. Tibet has been through too much for any of that to be productive. I just want all people to live in peace and safety, no matter who they are. xx :)
Oh wow, I didn’t know about this! Thanks for sharing, Rachel! Those poor children–but it is so good to hear about the good that is being done. Thanks for opening this up to me.
the school seems to help so many kids!
I hate what the government has done in Tibet, but what I also find really sad is that most Chinese people have no idea about it. They all view Tibet as part of China and they have no idea why the Tibetans might not love being apart of China. Most people really think they’re helping the country and think religion was being used to oppress the Tibetan people. I find the lack of information really frustrating and I have to watch what I say to people. Its such a sad subject, but hopefully when those kids have grown up the story will change.
You’re right it is sad and a really misunderstood situation!
Hi Rachel, a big thank you for the story. I am going to visit McLeod this December 15-18. And, will definitely visit the children’s village. I am touched by your post.
I am a photographer and love to blog. It will be a great opportunity for me experience what it is to be among those children and share their stories with the world.
The best part is my 5-year old girl will be with me and she has a very loving heart. She is very compassionate and this will be a learning opportunity for her where she will be able to expand her love toward God’s creation.
A deep thank you one more time! God bless you.
I hope you have a great time during your visit, would love to see the photos you take.