By Pearl Tsang
Tseden Dhogonpa was at the right place at the right time when her dream came true.
The dream lasted 40 minutes at the Orissa refugee camp in northeastern India, where the 42-year-old Tibetan-Canadian met face to face with the Dalai Lama.
"I got a call from the camp that the Dalai Lama was visiting so I knew I had to go," said Dhogonpa, who was in India for two weeks earlier this month helping Tibetan refugees on behalf of the Tibet Canada Women's Foundation. "It was an honour to have a private meeting, it was my dream come true in life."
Dhogonpa said the 40 minutes she shared with the Dalai Lama were nerve-racking. When she first saw the chief priest, she was very happy. However, as she listened to him share his experiences as a child and what he's witnessed in Tibet as Dalai Lama, Dhogonpa said she felt sad.
"My tears just came out," she said. "He had such a hard life but his whole life he spent towards helping the Tibetan cause."
"I prayed to him to give me the strength and energy to work towards happiness for the Tibetans and poor people around the world.
"I asked him to bless me so I can work for Tibet like he has and he said to me, certainly, he will do that for me. He will keep me in his prayers."
Dhogonpa and a representative from the For The Love of Children Society of Alberta travelled to India to address the issues Tibetan refugees face in the camps that dot India.
Dhogonpa was raised in the Orissa camp and feels responsible to create awareness of the poor conditions in which the refugees live under.
"I came to Canada in 1987, and I'm really fortunate to be here. I have the luxuries like eating when I want to eat, wear what I want to wear -- you couldn't do that on a refugee camp," said Dhogonpa, adding the best thing is she's now able to work for the Tibetan cause.
During her last visit to Orissa, Dhogonpa and her colleagues made sure a temporary water well, with clean drinking water, was built in the camp.
Through partnerships with the For The Love of Children Society, and the University of Calgary International Centre, a permanent and continuous supply of clean water will be available to the 4,000 refugees who occupy the camp. In addition, a telephone station, computer and printer have been set up in the camp.
Dhogonpa said the main purpose of the visit was to let the Dalai Lama and Tibetans around the world, particularly those who are still living in refugee camps and Tibet, know that Tibetan-Canadians are working to help them and others in similar situations.
The Tibet Canada Women's Foundation is hosting a cultural event tonight at the Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall, Rozsa Centre Theatre, at the University of Calgary.
The fundraising event will include a Tibetan bazaar, and 85 per cent of the proceeds will go to projects in Tibet or refugee camps qualified by the foundation's executives.
For more information call 220-7202.