HOW DID THIS BEGIN?
It has been over 20 years now that my husband Terry (but to some Rudolph) and I have been sponsoring the Tibetan monks.
Tibet or Bhutan – Buddhist monks
Well, the story started many years back when a lady and her friend were on a journey in India in the 1980’s. She was waiting on a railway station platform with a fellow travelling companion where she met a young monk. They got talking and it was from that encounter they became friends and the Sponsoring programme came out of that first meeting and friendship being formed, and still continues today.
We started writing to our monk in 1990. At the time he had 3 young monks in his charge, living like a family, and the older monk looks after the young monks.
We wrote for many years very simple letters. One of the young student monks used to write to us as he was learning English and the older monk did not speak or read English.
Our elder monk left Tibet in the late 1950s about the time his holiness the Dalai Lama escaped and trekked over the Himalayas to northern India. India gave refuge to the Tibetans and they continue to live in what is called an autonomous region in different parts of India.
In 1999 with some friends I paid a second visit to India to the Sai Baba Ashram in Puttiparti but before going to the ashram we travelled around India visiting different places until we eventually went by train (what an experience) to visit the monks at the Sera Jey Monastery, in Bylakuppe, Mysore, India.
It was here we met our Geshe and his young students.
Geshe with the three younger monks outside their house in Sera Jey Monastery
Geshe had a Tibetan dress made for me whilst we were staying at the monastery.
When we first visited the monastery there were 3,000 monks living there. The photographer had the job of getting everyone he could into the photograph.
In 2018 We visited India and toured with Tenzin. We visited many spiritual sites including Bodh Gaya where this buddha statue is in the temple. We gave a robe that was then placed around the buddha statue. To be in that place was so moving. I have to say it moved me to tears.
The Mahabodhi Temple or the Mahabodhi Mahavihar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ancient, but much rebuilt and restored, Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, marking the location where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.
Tibetan currency. This was given to me by the elder monk. The note was very precious to him as it was the last reminder of Tibet he had. I felt so blessed that he wanted me to have it.