Since the Chinese invasion late in 1950 many Tibetans have sought refuge in countries around the world. The Himalayas of Nepal were, and remain, a safe choice based on the geographical, cultural and religious similarities but no matter how similar the new place, it’s not home. So starting over, especially when it’s not by choice, must be harder than I could begin to imagine. But in good faith, the Tibetans seem to have a positive outlook on it. After all, their religion is centered around looking inwards and finding the happiness rather than searching for it in the outside/material world. That has got to be one of the best possible outlooks on a situation like they have ended up in.
This camp in Marpha is thriving – retaining its culture, providing good education for its youth, and not to mention they did a damn good job picking the location. Marpha is in one of Nepal’s most beautiful and environmentally protected districts – Mustang. Its inhabitants are mainly Buddhists and some even of Tibetan origin, so the refugees fit in as well as they could hope to. I visited the school that the settlement has set up, the teacher and students welcomed us with songs and smiles. A smart group of people indeed, the kids learn English, Nepali, and of course Tibetan on top of the math, science, and arts curriculum that they follow.
My first impression came from the proverbs covering the walls around the play ground area. With words this kind its hard to do anything but love and respect these people, who by my account do truly live by these thoughts.