Monk's miracle transforming the world for slumdogs


By: Gautami Srivastava

Dharamshala (June 22): A young Tibetan monk here has mastered a magic even belittlin the mystical vanishing act of the reclusive Himalayan masters. Jamyang, who decided to move against the tide, has brought a revolutionary transformation in the lives of slum dwellers of Charan Khad, on the outskirts if Dharamshala. Around 40 children of migrant rag-pickers from from Rajasthan and Maharashtra, living in the dirty shanties, who earlier used to beg and pick rags, are now not only studying in a public school but are also securing top positions, living in a hostel run by the monk.

Most of them would have been married at the age of 14 or 15 as they were engaged years ago, had Monk Jamyang, popularly known as Guruji, not taken them to the hostel. Now they dream to become doctors, engineers, teachers and even pilots. The monk’s miracles are inscribing a new story in the filthy slums. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetans, is also taking keen interest in this unique initiative and has extended support to this project.

The experiment is being carried out in the slums of lower Dharamshala where more than 800 migrants are living in hell-like conditions. Monk Jamyang, the founder of Tong-len Charitable Trust explains his vision: “The problems prevailing in the slum areas are plentiful. Giving them free food and clothes can’t improve their condition. The only solution is empowerment of their children.”

Started in 2004, the trust is working for the health, educational and socio-economic empowerment of slum people. A survey conducted by Tong-len in 2009 showed some shocking findings. About 94 per cent of the slum children are malnourished and some of them are on the verge of dying. They are first admitted in the Tong-len’s Intensive Care Unit. The trust operates health clinics and mobile health units that serve, apart from Charan Khadd, about 4,000 slum dwellers in Kangra, Hamirpur and Una district.

Monk Jamyang and his highly dedicated team, including Sonam Dorjee, Tashi Lhamo, Navita Pradhan, Radhika, Shankar and Pasang, have brought a revolutionary change in the lives of these slum children by breaking the vicious circle of poverty through educational empowerment. “I want to become a doctor and serve the society by helping poor patients,” are the words of 10-year-old Mamta, whose life once only oscillated between rag-picking in the town and the shanties of Charan Khadd. Nisha, whose father earns a living by polishing shoes, is now the topper of class IV at local Dayanand Model School. Ranjeeta, Rinku, Pinki now dreams to become doctor, engineer and teacher, respectively.

All these kids are part of children empowerment programme of Tong-len, which started in 2005 with 10 poor children, and now has 40 children from Charan Khad. By October 2011 it will take care of 90 slum children. They also operate two tent schools at Charan Khad in which around 200 children are taught under various programmes and get free lunch meals, which is sponsored by The Dalai Lama. Some foreign volunteers also come to Charan to serve the poor kids. Christina from United States and Martina from Germany, both in early twenties, are extending voluntary services in the slums for the last eight months. They said, “It’s very satisfying for us to clean, feed and teach the slum kids. We love to do that.”

The slum dwellers have high expectations from the monk. “I don’t want our children to be like us, I just want to see them successful. Only Guruji can give us a new life,” says Maya, a rag-picker who was born and brought up there and has spent all her life in Charan Khad. She could have never imagined that her 7-year-old son Rahul will one day get an opportunity to study at the tent school and will be able to read & write.

Jamyang’s vision is not confined to this only. His future planes include a state-of-the-art hostel for at least 100 children, good library, computer lab and a home for malnourished babies. This huge campus is under construction near Kunal Pathari temple in Dharamsala. He has also in his mind to start a school for the blind and deaf children. He says, “It is just to express our sincere gratitude towards the people of Himachal and India. They have done so much for the Tibetan refugees since 1959; can’t we do a little for them?”

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  1. this needs to applauded by all. after all the non-sense in recent months over the whole tibetan refugee issue and the karmapa stuff, finally an article that brings to light something that rises above all non-sense and inspires hope.
    good on him – the monk is on the path to real salvation and god be with him.
    education is the only way out.

  2. There is no doubt that mission of empowering these poor children from Slums in Chran Khad , by Monk Jamyang , is highly appreciable.
    But I would like to request to know from the Dharamshala’s Local administration, why in the first instance , let so many outsiders from other states let squat there in Public place, dirtying the place and endangering the environment , using open places for all their daily needs ?????

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