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Thursday 9 Nov
McLeod Ganji, India

Free Tibet---a humbling lesson

What to say...my life...this experience. It seems that India has humbled me at every turn. I decided that volunteering was a good idea to give back to India because it has already given me so much knowledge and beautiful gifts about life...little did I know that this experience would give so much more.

Basically my volunteer life is pretty relaxed here---as far as the pace I thought I would be facing. Each day brings a new gift to learn something new about India and Tibet.

Here in McLeod Ganji is the hub for Tibetans in exile. Each year 2000-3000 Tibetans flee China through the Himalayas. In the past they fled because of the mass execution and political situation. Now, I have learnt they flee for a better sense of eductation on what it means to be Tibetan...to learn about there home that is now basically just another Chinese town.

I always knew that I was fortunate to be born in to Canada. But...did I really know...do you really know?! NO, I didnt. Here, people live and have died for their country. They struggle to keep themselves alive and for the thought that one day they may return to a free Tibet. Imagine crossing the Himalayas in the winter...to reach India, Nepal...wherever...just to survive. Horrible.

We have been picking garbage up and trying to educate people on a clean environment. I am so grateful to live in a society that cares about the environment. Yes, in Canada there are MANY environmental issues...from oil and gas, clear cutting, dumping...but here it is everywhere in your face. There is never a garbage rest....it is everywhere...on your front step, on the street, in the river, on the hills...

Anyway, a beautiful thing occured today...we were knee deep in the grossest garbage you could think of. I was slinging trash like there was no tomorrow...I almost threw up a couple of times...but we powered through. People were starring at us...'what are those crazy foreigners doing?' but then...something magical happened. People started to join us. We had three young tibetans and an old tibetan granny down in the dirt and garbage with bags giving there piece to society. It was just fabulous. Two guys actually came, cleaned garbage, and then headed straight back to University. It made me feel very good...the monks were passing us and thanking us, people were smiling. The MP of the Tibetan Exile Government crawled in the BIGGEST pile of rubbish and got his fingers dirty for the cause...he spent the whole day with us...Would your MP do that? and on a daily basis? If only everyone knew the distruction of just one wrapper on the ground.

I have to say in Canda I was disregarded recycling...I mean if the bin was there I would sort it but a lot of the times I just threw my trash away. (not a good thing to admit...but hey, I own it (that was for you linds)) Never again...you BC hippies have a great thing going!

Yesterday we went to the Yongling Tibetan school. I sat in on a class of 2-4 yr old Tibetan children. They all had a little necklace of the Dali Lama around their necks and when I would go to take a picture they would throw up the peace sign. It was very overwhelming. I witnessed the good and bad of the school. The teacher that was heading the class started hitting the kids on the head with rulers if they caused trouble...my jaw dropped and remembering our discussion with our camp leader that corporal punishment is not uncommon I closed it again. THEN, this just made me SOOOOOOOOOOO angry inside a young boy didnt want to participate...he was clearly shy...and the teacher made the class sing about how stupid he was and laugh at him. He was crying so hard he was gasping for air. I ran over picked him up, craddled him until he stopped crying...and my heart broke inside for his little spirit.

Now, I know this happens everywhere in the world...but by fact it does happen less in Canada. Be thankful that if this happened that teacher would have his/her a** fired. Yes, our education system is lacking BUT protection is there...and if it is missing in most cases it will be sorted.

Finally---today we had a cultural talk by a young Tibetan activist named Tenzin Tsundue. I cannot put in words what he said or how much it touched my heart. My life is changed simply by the words he spoke about non-violence, freedom, peace...I mean this man has be imprisoned twice...once in Tibet by the Chinese (tortured too) and once in India for demonstrating against the Chinese at a world conference. Yet, even with this he fights every day for a Free Tibet. He doesnt just speak about things...he acts on them...he feels them and when you hear him speak you feel them too.

I will leave you with a poem that he wrote:

Desperate Age
Tenzin Tsundue

K*ll my Dali Lama
that I can believe no more.

Burn my head
beat it.
Disrobe me
chain it.
But don't free me.

Within the prison
this body is yours.
But within the body
my belief is only mine.

You want to do it?
K*ll me here-silently.
Make sure no breath remains.
But don't let me free.

If you want, do it again.
Right from teh beginning:
Discipline me
Re-educate me
Indoctrinate me
Show me your communist gimmicks
But don't free me.

K*ll my Dali Lama
and I will
believe no more.

Excuse me if this blog sounds preaching but seriously

Oh Canada!

x
ashley

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