The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre provides a space for Tibetans fleeing their country in waves, in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama. It allows people who came with only what they could carry to begin a new life, with the support of friends in the same position. The centre also keeps alive many Tibetan skills and crafts that could not be freely practiced in Tibet.
These tools are used to push the threads down, keeping them tightly pressed together.
Drawing up the design on grid paper, then threading it on the loom. Amazing.
Honey mad a few friends on the steps. I think they were in awe of this young, modern woman speaking Tibetan to them!
Honey made a few more friends and bought them all juice boxes, so I think she’s in their good books now.
This lady was the littlest, and the cutest. All the Indian tourists were fighting over each other to get a photo with her (see below).
I think we have some future award winning architects on our hands here.
…maybe once they’ve learnt how to smile nicely for the paparazzi.
Printing blocks from the Tibetan newspaper. These were in a small Tibetan museum they have in the centre. It has some pretty chilling newspaper clippings about the happenings in Tibet.
Hand making cards to sell in the gift shop. Each character has a different colour scheme.
The people here have not lost sight of their home country, they know that Darjeeling isn’t truly theirs. They are great followers of the Dalai Lama and have photos of him all over the place.
Oh hello Leighton, what are you doing here?
One of the other skills kept alive here is wood carving. This man was talking about how all the young Tibetans of Darjeeling want to leave the centre and get an office job somewhere, they don’t want to learn the crafts of their culture. All of the people at the center are below 15 or above 30.
The carvings are beautiful and very intricate and time consuming. These photos don’t quite convey just how detailed and thin some of the sections are. These are panels for a bed. If I recall correctly it is taking a few men a year to make this bed.
All of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism in one on this panel.
This is my last post for this blog. Goodbye India, it’s been a great journey and I’ve really enjoyed keeping this blog. Hopefully I’ll go back in a few years and pick up where I left off! Thanks to all the readers for your attention and comments, see you again soon.