DHARAMSHALA: The dreamy settings of the Himalayas provided a dream setting for the children of the slum areas of Dharamshala in the picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh. They have live classrooms to chat with students of foreign countries on various projects, they have high-speed internet, digital studios, and an atmosphere of a cabinet meeting at the kindergarten level.
The miracle was made possible by the efforts of a 43-year-old Buddhist monk Jamyang whose tireless efforts saw 130 children from underprivileged backgrounds undergoing a holistic education that includes secular ethics, emotional management, and subjects like management and leadership.
“My only aim in life is to transform these slum kids into better and excellent human beings so that they could lead the masses one day. While many institutions are focusing on academics only, I try to bring all-round development to these kids which will give them the advantage in the later stages,” Jamyang, who arrived in the country in 1997 from Tibet, told The New Indian.
Talking about the motivation for his work, Jamyang narrates an incident on his arrival in this popular hill town.
“In 2001 I stayed in a room in Mcleodganj, near a street where garbage was dumped. I saw three kids who came daily to collect something out of this heap. They used to take out bread pieces and tomatoes to eat,” he said.
“One day I saw a few people urinating on the garbage and later these kids came and ate from it. That was the day I decided to live for these people. I made extra lunch and offered them,” he said.
Jamyang was moved when he started working for the people living in the slum and visited their shanties.
“I saw one lady delivering a baby on the rock in front of everyone. Few ladies were giving her the smoke of chillies. That was disgusting, how can this be in front of everyone?” he wondered.
Jamyang joined hands with other like-minded people and formed an organisation Tong-Len – which means give and take.
It was not a smooth sail for Jamyang as the language barrier and convincing the slum people turned out to be a tough task.
“If I give them money, they spend it on drinking. If I give them clothes and shoes, they sell them off to get money. Kids at that time used to die from diarrhoea. I have to grab children from their mothers to feed them and give them medicines. They were just focused on the present day,” he said, adding that mothers used to take their skinny babies with them for begging.
But Jamyang’s persistence helped him overcome the challenges and turned a new leaf in their lives. There are 300 kids who have benefited from his efforts. Jamyang and his fellow monks have provided a hostel facility for 148 kids and about 30 students are now studying in universities across the country. In fact, a top American consultancy firm had also joined hands with Tong-Len in facilitating studies for the students.
Truly, a miracle is happening up on the hills.
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