I came from a nomadic family in the eastern part of Tibet, which is called Kham, one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet. Until I was about ten years old, for me, my world revolved around my parents, my three older sisters and our animals. But in 1995 my parents decided to give up on the nomadic life, and move to the capital city, Lhasa.
Though I was only a little girl, I could tell that the life was much different in the city. I would no longer run after the animals. I would instead, go out to the supermarkets and collect cardboards. We would use the cardboards to cook our meals. My parents would go out and sell handicrafts, such as necklace and bracelets – which they still do today.
It was during my spare time in the city, when I first met many other kids of my age, who went to school. Every morning they would head out to the school with their little backpacks, and every late afternoon, they would sit around in the courtyard to do their homework. I was deeply fascinated with their daily activities, and would often watch them do their homework. While observing them, I envied them. I wished to go to school just like them. I did not want to collect cardboards anymore. After bearing the thought for a while, I decided to tell my mother. One day, after she came home, I gathered enough courage to tell her, “Mom, I want to go to school like the other kids!” Though she did not give me a clear answer on the spot, she must have thought about it for a while. One day, she said to me, “You said that you wanted to go to school. But as you know we cannot afford to send you to a school. But, if you really want to go to school, there is a way. You will have to go to India and study there.” I was too naïve and innocent to understand fully the gravity of her proposal. I was so happy that I was going to a school. I did not care much about whether it was a school near by our home or a school in India. I had no idea that India is a different country, and that it is thousands of miles away from Tibet.
In August of 1996, I was sent to India with other Tibetans who were escaping. I was so brave and so sure of my decision to leave home, until a van came to fetch me in the middle of the night. And then, I started to cry and begged my parents not to send me away. But it was too late. The time had come for me to leave all my beloved ones behind, and embark on a journey that would forever change the course of my life. I still remember that night, sixteen years ago, when I saw my sisters’ and father’s face for the last time.
As I grew up at Tibetan Children Village School in India, I learned to appreciate the sacrifice my parents made. They wanted to educate at least one of their four daughters. I was sent away to India, so that I could attain an education. Thus the price paid for my education is the last sixteen years of our family separation. As the situation inside Tibet intensifies, it is impossible to predict the time when we will be reunited. Enduring the pain of sending her youngest daughter away, today mother proudly says, “education once acquired can neither be stolen nor be robbed off you.”