UNSEEN DHARAMSALA An innovative arts project for Tibetan refugees to describe their lives through photography.
I am a nomad from Kham. As a child I went to school intermittently for three years but could not continue because my family needed help with our animals. When I turned 17 I left home on a pilgrimage to Lhasa. While in Lhasa I found a pin with a photo of the Dalai Lama. At that time I didn't know about the Dalai Lama. When I was born the Chinese army had already collected all the photos of the Dalai Lama and our elders were too afraid to teach us about him. Even though I didn't know who he was I loved this man's smile and always wore the pin. Once the police stopped me and asked me many confusing questions about politics. They asked me if I knew who the man on the pin was. I honestly said no. Another time while I was in a tea shop minding my own business a stranger sat next to me. He told me all about the Chinese invasion, how the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and set up a community in Dharamsala. He told me he could help me go to India if I wanted. We only have one precious life and need to use it properly so I found the courage to escape. I wanted to learn to read and write in Tibetan and Dharamsala is the best place to do that. I have been in India for several years and have learned so much. However living conditions are not good for us refugees. As nomads we had a good way of life so I hope to return to Tibet soon.