|My Story about escaping to India|
Below you will find the story of Khando Dechen, a 22 years old girl living in India. In her story she describes her escape from Tibet. She wrote the story in a letter to the foundation in March 2012.
My name is Khando Dechen and I came to India in19997 with my sister Tenpa Yangzom. I was very young, about 7 years old and hence I couldn’t remember everything in much detail. But I have my sister with me and she helped to provide more information on how we escaped from Tibet to India.
My very first attempt to come to India was with my second elder sister Pema Yangzom and my father in 1996.But we couldn’t make it because my sister and I weren’t able to climb the rocky mountains, was crying now and then and creating lots of noises that my father had to return back.
A year after that, my father sent me and my eldest sister Tenpa Yangzom with our aunt Jampa Dolma, along with groups of 60 other Tibetans. We started our initial journey in a truck, covered by heavy clothes from the top for about two days. That took us from Lhasa (capital city of Tibet) to Shegatse. Once we reached Shegatse, we started walking at night.
After seven days of walking, our guide left us and disappeared. So, we are left with no guide and our group was further divided into small groups of tens, twenties and thirties and decided to go different ways.
In our group, we had ten people- 3 monks with a little boy (a year younger than me), 1 Amdo monk, 1 young boy and a girl, my sister and my aunt. But my aunt couldn’t go any further and hence she returned back. Since we have no guide, we gave money and foods to the nomads and they gave us the directions.
During our journey, I think we had to cross three deep seas. The elders had to hold their hands together and swim forward while me and the small boy were carried by the monks on their shoulder. Luckily, the Snow Mountains during our time of journey wasn’t very thick and so we didn’t face much of a difficulty to cross that. But my sister and I had only one black shade to wear, which she had given for me to wear. After crossing the snow regions, she couldn’t see for a day.
Before two days from reaching Nepal, we ran out of food. So we gave 5 Chinese Yuan for a cup of tea and 5 for a bowl of Tsampa (Tibetan barley) to the traders we met on the way.
In our entire journey, we slept during the day and walked at night to hide from Chinese Police. I remember sleeping while walking in the night and my sister used to splash water on my face to freshen up and walk faster. We walked for almost a month till we reached a place called Gyasa, where there’s a small Tibetan Exile Reception Centre organized by the Tibetan Government. There we met some other group members whom we departed before. Out of 60 people from the initial journey, only 25 of us could make it to India. I think we stayed at Gyasa for about 15 days and after that we were sent with 10 Nepali Police. With them, we walked for 2 days and travelled in a bus for one day and finally reached to the main Tibetan Exile Reception Center of Nepal.
From there we were sent to Dharamsala (Himachal) , where the monks were sent to Monastery in south of India, while I was admitted to Tibetan Children’s Village school Patlikuhl. My sister was sent to TCV Suja, a school for young Tibetans. Later my sister dropped from school and joint Vocational Training Center to learnt sewing. Currently she is living in McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala), selling bracelets and necklace stuff on the street side of McLeod.
As for me, I finished my schooling in 2009 and currently doing a b.tech course in computer science and engineering in Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology in Delhi for almost 3 years and I will be graduating next year.
Although we faced many difficulties but we are fortunate ones for we didn’t face much problem in crossing the Snow Mountains. For I heard that some of others Tibetans who escaped to India, faced problems of frost bite and some were caught by the Chinese police. We didn’t face such difficulties luckily.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Tibetan Government for providing us the opportunity to study and I want to serve our government in future as much as I can. Also I, on behalf of all the Tibetan students who are under the sponsorship, would like to thank each and every single sponsor of Tibetan Children’s Fund and of course the organizers for helping us to study further and go to colleges. We are very grateful for all of your kindness and sincere support. Your every little contribution makes a huge difference in our life and we are very thankful and indebted to you all. Thank you so much for your untiring support and helping hand. We are truly blessed.
KhandoDechen, New Delhi, India.