By Tenzin Monlam
Tenzin Geche Tethong and Ven. Lobsnag Tenzin, Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, April 17: A pictorial book documenting the arrival into exile and survival of the early Tibetan refugees, was launched at a modest event today at the Norbu House conference hall.
Categorized into five sections – Arrival, Democracy, Survival, Education, and Religion & Culture – the 155-paged journal was launched by Former minister Tenzin Geche Tethong (kasur), and Gen Lobsang Tenzin la, who served the first Tibetan Nursery (later TCV) since 1960s.
The journal, through images many of whose photographers are unknown, documents the survival story of Tibetans in exile through pictures from the total occupation of Tibet in 1959 to 1989, the year His Holiness the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Lobsang Gyatso Sither, the editor of the photo journal called ‘Exile’ (Tib: Tsenjol), said, “This book represents the sacrifices and hard work of the first generation of exiles under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and help from the Indian government in difficult times.”
Gyatso expressed hope that the photo journal will help the younger generation of Tibetans to understand and appreciate the history and origins of the exile Tibetan community. The book, he said, took almost two years for fruition.
Appreciating the holistic nature of the book, Tethong, who as a Secretary to His Holiness the Dalai Lama had accompanied the Tibetan leader on several visits within India and abroad, said, “I found certain uniqueness in it since it is based on historical pictures. How much ever we write of those difficult periods, pictures can do more justice in helping people to visualize the challenges faced by the first generation of Tibetans in exile.”
The former minister added that the book also serves not just as a reminder of the difficult past, but also as a reminder of how the Tibetans survived and remained ever true to their beliefs in the most difficult of times.
The 93-year-old Gen Tenzin la, who also took the responsibility of store-manager in the earlier days, shared stories about the hardships faced while setting up the first nursery, which today has grown into TCV schools.
Focusing on the evolution of the exile history from its first educational institute to the first settlement and others, the book comprises of 262 photos out of over 40,000 photos received from various institutions and individuals.
Funded by Geographic Legacy Fund at National Geographic Society and the Committee of 100 for Tibet for Fiscal sponsorship, the team said that it had archived and digitized all photographs and can be viewed through their website tibetansinexile.org