Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monk's mission gets Dalai Lama push

Gautami Srivastava/Dharamshala

Dalai Lama opens a hostel for slum kids, hails Monk Jamyang's efforts

The unique mission launched by a Tibetan refugee Monk Jamyang to serve the slum children of Charan Khad, Dharamshala got a momentum when The Dalai Lama assured of all kinds of support for his endeavors. The monk started the project in 2003 by adopting five slum children and transforming their lives by providing them quality education. Now Tong-Len is giving a new lease of life to sixty children of the slums who once earned their bread by begging or collecting rags. These children have not only become a part of mainstream but also are toppers of their class.
In a very innovative way he has demonstrated an alternative model of holistic development in the shanties to break the vicious circle of poverty of the slum dwellers who migrated from Maharashtra & Rajasthan about three decades back. Jamyang's consistent efforts have resulted in a complete transformation of dreams and aspirations of these slum children who would have spent their generations in struggling for every single meal, had not met Monk Jamyang.
Dalai Lama appreciated the efforts of Jamyang while recently inaugurating the Tong-Len hostel, which will give a new shape to the children's future. "Jamyang is doing a great job and one should learn from his work. We all need to focus our actions for total empowerment of the needy and poor. This is the real practice of Budha's teachings and Dharma," said the Dalai while talking to this correspondent.
He asked the community to support the underprivileged and marginalized groups. He also said, "The mankind is one and there should not be any discrimination on the basis of colour, caste, creed, religion, nationality or ideology as preached by Mahatma Gandhi."
Earlier Tong-Len had taken two houses on rent to accommodate twenty boys and equal number of girls in Depot Bazar area of Dharamshala. The hostel has a special block dedicated for destitute infants and small kids. Jamyang says, "That accommodation was not good enough for the overall development of the children. Now the new spacious campus has ample space to accommodate hundred children with a state of the art computer lab, library and a playground."
The beautiful campus situated near the famous Goddess Kunal Pathri Temple and surrounded by lush green Tea Gardens is designed by Australian architects, has a brass life size statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Jamyang believes that the statue of Baapu is an inspiration for all of us. "His Holiness always says that Gandhi ji is a symbol of fight against discrimination, apartheid and exploitation world over," he added.
Number of slums in Himachal Pradesh is gradually increasing due to rapid construction activities but no sufficient steps are taken regarding this issue except the developmental project carried out very scientifically by Jamyang. He installed solar lights, toilet tents, bath rooms and water tankers in the slum area where earlier the poor residents were deprived of basic amenities. He also started Tent School in the area for the children who could not afford to go to formal schools. Along with this, Tong-Len also runs Mobile Health care units in six different areas including Palampur, Nagrota, Chintpurni, Jwalaji which provides with vaccination, counseling and medicines.
"I want to become an air hostess and serve my community and country," says Pinki, who lives in Tong-Len Hostel and scored 100 percentile in 5th Standard. "All the slum children of Tong-Len Hostel are showing exceptional performance in academic, sports and cultural activities. Once considered as unwanted students are now the pride our school," said Meenakshi Gautami, Vice-Principal of Dayanand Model School. All the Tonglen children who came from the shanties are now campaigning against domestic violence, pollution, disease and alcoholism prevailing in the slums. Jamyang believes that if quality education is provided to the children, slums with automatically vanish.

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