Approximately ten years ago, we had great good fortune to meet Karma and Gensung Tensum at Thanksgiving dinner, in the kitchen of The Feathered Pipe Ranch. Just being in the Ranch’s most vital productive center was always an honor and a privilege. It was big, roomy, homey, alive with the the cooking of fabulous food, and central to every person who made the great ranch function. Access was selective—those who were currently running the ranch and those who had dedicated their lives to contributing to that effort, so when India Supera introduced us to Karma and Gensung we already knew that they were walking a well-intentioned path.
Those of you who know Karma, also know he does not hesitate to explain the direction of his path. Soon, we knew all about the Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation. We were just scraping by but signed up for a student as quickly as we could. This turned out to be one of the most rewarding things we have ever done. TCEF is not like any other sponsorship program. Our 35.00 a month went directly to the support of student, Sita Dolma. She wrote to us regularly, sending us copies of her grades and thanks for making an education possible.
A few years later we were scraping by a little better and decided to spread some of the blessings, of our great good fortune, to an elder. Guyong had escaped to India in her early twenties. We American worry about not being affluence enough to buy the latest electronic gizmo. Just imagine struggling for 60 years in exile from your country. What would it feel like to have the burden for your daily needs lifted at the age of 82?
Guyong passed and Sita was married. We now support student Kalsang Chodon and elder Pasang Chodon. Kalsang has to work very hard to make it through school. She does her best because she grew up experiencing how lack of education impacts lives. She might be the first person in her family to graduate high school. If she can do this we would be doubly happy to increase our donation to send her to a university. Imagine sending a person to college and covering all their expenses for $75.00 a month. Can you spend your money any better?
As a young woman, Pasang Chodon also fled into exile in India, from her beloved Tibet. She started her new life in India breaking stones by the side of roads. Lack of education has made her and her husband’s lives very hard. Her husband is not well and they are very poor. As Cheryl and I get older we realize how life gets tougher as the years go on, but we have never missed a meal, or slept on the street. The money we send is such a small part of the bounty we have—look what it does for these people.
We have never been to India. Cheryl has been to Europe as a student. I’ve never had a passport. I work full-time with the PTSD vets. We live check to check. I can’t afford to take time off to volunteer for TCEF, but we do what we can do. We do this because it is one of the most important causes in the world. Any monies given, go directly to TCEF’s need projects in India and help them preserve Tibetan culture through education of their children and support of their elders. If you can find it in your heart to sponsor a student or elder you should. If you want to give of yourself and your time you could volunteer. If you have greater resources imagine what a positive impact you could have on the lives of these Tibetan exiles. If you have influence you could help free Tibet. If you do any of these things we guarantee that you will have no regrets.
Daniel Fritz & Cheryl Hart, Helena, MT