The children at the Children’s Welfare Center at the Yungdrung Bon Monastic Centre in Dolanji, India are back in school after the summer holidays. In school they all learn English. Recently one of the students, Phurba Thinley, whose family lives in Nepal wrote this story about himself that we thought we would share with you.
My name is Phurba Thinley. I am 17 years old. I was born in a remote village called Bijer in Himalayan region in Dolpo District, Nepal in 1993. My father, Gyalpo Lama, was a businessman and the headman of the village. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was just one or two years old. I have never seen his face except some photos. My mother Karma Choedon, is a housewife. After my father’s death, my mother got married with my paternal uncle or one of my father’s brothers, Ngawang Jigma. I have two brothers. Pasang Dhodup, the eldest brother, started his study when he was 6 years old and learned how to reach and write Tibetan in the Samling Monastery, situated near Bijer and one of the oldest Bon monasteries. Now he is in a college in Chandigarh, India. My second brother, Yungdrung Thinley, stayed at home to help the family with my mother. But when he was 15, he understood the meaning of ignorance as he was not able to read and write and he left our home and came to Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India and became a monk. He is in the Bon Dialectic School now.
I started going to a small school in the village when I was 5 years old. There was only one classroom, one teacher and less than 20 students. I used to go to the school during the summer and learned the alphabets of English and Nepali. During spring and autumn, I had to help my uncle, mother and brother in the fields. We had some fields and cattle on which our lives depended. We had many yaks and goats and fields when my father was alive, my mother told me, but after his death we had to sell most of them to support the family and became a poor family.
I started to learn Tibetan when I was about 6 years old in the Samling Monastery under the guidance of one of our relatives who was a monk in the monastery. It was really a hard life for a small child like me to have to work in the fields during autumn and spring and have a chance to got to school for only three months during summer.
In 2000, when I was 7 years old, my uncle and mother decided to take me to India for a broader education as I was just able to read and write the alphabet of Tibetan, English and Nepali. My eldest brother had already gone to India three years before. Then my journey through the Himalayas to India began one evening. When I, my uncle and another man were climbing a hill in front of my village, my mother and some villagers came to us and asked us to stop for a while. My mother handed me some notes and advised me to study hard. I nodded and shed tears to express the sadness of my departure from her. Then we resumed our journey. After walking and climbing hills and mountains in the Himalayas for about a week, we arrived a Dunai. From there we boarded a helicopter to Kathmandu then a bus to Solan, India. In Solan, we had to hire a taxi to Dholanji where the Menri Monastery and my ultimate destination was situated. In Dholanji, I felt very happy and lucky to see His Holiness, the 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche, and my eldest brother.
I got admission in the Bon Children’s Welfare Centre, where there were 6 rooms and 96 children living in the centre. Children are getting a modern education in the Central School for Tibetans, Dholanji and religious studies in the monastery. The Bon Children’s Welfare Centre is run under YBMC or YungDrung Bon Monastic Centre, a registered society.
One day I was given the new robe of monk and His Holiness cut my hair and gave me a new name, Phurba Thinley. My name was Tsering Phurba before that. Most of the children in BCWC have come from the Himalayan region and are orphans and semiorphans like me. The construction of a new building had started when I was a new boy and now we have a large building of three floors with two big dormitories, a large prayer hall, a large dining hall and kitchen with modern facilities. I have learned everything I know in this hostel and monastery under the blessing of His Holiness and guidance of the teachers and staff of YBMC and BCWC, except for the alphabets of the three languages I have mentioned above.
I have studied in the Central School for Tibetans, Dholanji, for eleven years and now [as of the date of this writing, September 2010] I am in tenth class. I have been scoring good results/marks in the previous classes in the school. In 2007, when I first got a chance to touch the mouse of a computer, learning computer has become a passion for me and I have decided to be a computer engineer. In 2009, I was made the vice-captain of the school and this year I am the captain.
Today, I am very happy in the centre and I hope I can achieve my ambition of becoming a computer engineer. I am very grateful to His Holiness and my teachers and my eldest brother, who list a light in my life, and my uncle who took me to this place.