Dekyling Tibetan settlement lies in the Doon Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, in Uttaranchal, north India.
In the settlement are a number of elderly people living in houses which were provided by the Tibetan Government in Exile’s rehabilitation scheme in the early 1980s, many of the refugees having come from Bhutan in 1982, when the Bhutan’s government policy towards Tibetan refugees took a turn for the worse. A new policy was introduced whereby Tibetans had to choose to either become Bhutanese citizens or to leave and become refugees in a new country, India.
Tibet Relief Fund helped with the original purchase of the land and have been providing stipends for many of the elderly people living in this remote settlement for a number of years since; ensuring elderly Tibetan refugees in Dekyling have food, clothing, accommodation and medical care.
Mrs Lhakdon (left) escaped Tibet 48 years ago and made Jampaling Tibetan settlement her home. Here she worked as a farmer, manual worker and carpet weaver. Now 68 years old, in fragile health, widowed and living far from her daughter, she spins yarn for low wages that do not meet her basic needs. The monies provided by Tibet Relief Fund ease these difficulties and make her life happier.
Sonam was born in 1932 in Sangkar, U-Tsang, southern Tibet. Aged 27 he joined the volunteer troops to escort the Dalai Lama in his flight from Lhasa to India in March 1959. Sonam accompanied the Dalai Lama as far as Lokha, choosing to remain in Tibet and join the local resistance. He was part of a group that tried holding back the Chinese forces, but this proved an impossible task and he was forced to escape to Bhutan. Today he lives with his wife in Dekyling settlement. They have each other, but no children or family to support them. They both undertake various jobs in order to earn a small livelihood, including making butter lamps for pujas and cleaning the temple areas. Alone they are unable to ensure all their basic needs are met; Tibet Relief Fund plays a major role in their lives by providing stipends to cover these needs.