Today our group visited an SOS school and orphanage, for Tibetan children only. We have walked the grounds, visited the inside, and met with the director who was also Tibetan.
Each house has a “mother” that takes care of about ten children that live inside. She cooks, does laundry and cleans. All children are up at 6AM (!) and have their own responsibilities – make their bed, straighten the toys. They are then dropped off at the school.
Inside each house is a display with images of His Holiness Dalai Lama and seven water bowls. On the wall, in addition to various pictures of Tibet, there are posters describing various English words.
The director had told us that life of a Tibetan refugee in Nepal is very difficult. And here is why. No refugee can ever become a citizen thus not being able to ever legally work, neither for public or private company for it takes jobs away from the Nepalese. So, if you are a Tibetan refugee, you get a so called National card (similar to a residency permit) that has to be renewed every year. Yes, every year. The director was about 62 years old and he told us he has been renewing his card for many years and what a embarrassing process it is for you never know whether you are staying or going back.
Imagine living like that, not knowing…
Some Tibetan students are sent to colleges in India after graduating from SOS schools and there are quite a few success stories. They cannot, however, work legally or go to school in Nepal for reasons mentioned above.