Wangmo, 13, is homesick after a few weeks in the children’s village in Gopalpur.
“I miss my family so much, I just cry all the time. But the children and the teachers here say it’s worst at the beginning and that I’ll feel better after a while. Almost everyone here has experienced similar things.”Wangmo’s mother decided to send her to India after her father was imprisoned.
“My dad travelled to India to be blessed by the Dalai Lama. When the Chinese police found out they accused him of being a spy. He was in prison for 3 years. We are scared that they will arrest him again, so now he’s in hiding. My mother sent me and my sister here so we could go to school and be safe.”
Choeky, 10 lives in the children’s village in Bir. Her father was often arrested in Tibet.
The police accused him of being a spy, because he travelled over the border to Nepal in his work. One day he didn’t come back from the police station.
“My mother was pregnant, but we still travelled together to Lhasa to see what had happened. No one would say. In the end my grandfather heard they had thrown dad into the river, from a high bridge. Then we realised he must be dead, because no one can survive in that wild water. That was when my mother sent me to the Tibetan children’s village in India.”
Dolma, 12, escaped from Tibet over the mountains. “It was really scary and I was afraid the whole time. There were many times I thought I would die. The mountains were full of Chinese soldiers who looked for refugees. Every time the guides heard the sound of a car or people, they tied us children tightly in rope and lowered us down the mountainside. The guides were Nepalese and could pretend they were hiking. Sometimes we hung there for a long time, high above the ground and sometimes in the middle of the night. But I wasn’t scared of falling. I was just terrified of being discovered and going to prison. I was also scared of what would happen to my parents if I got caught.”
Tibetan political prisoners began to make thin black and white bracelets from wool. Now Wangmo and many other Tibetans wear them to show that they have not forgotten all those who are in prison.