I have made new discoveries here. Yaks will gladly eat paper. In fact there are a lot of things I didn’t know about where Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community is located, the resilience of the local population and the harsh challenges of the Himalayan winter the kids here face every year without a single complaint. This morning, here at 6300 feet or 2100 meters, I woke up feeling cold. I could barely feel my hands after washing up. But as I went outside, the children greeted me with such a surprising degree of sincerity and cheerfulness that the cold just seemed to melt away, especially since they’d had their own baths earlier than me!
I have made new friends here. I’m usually quiet until you get to know me, but in just over a week here at Jhamtse, the hugs and smiles of the children have made me feel at home and enveloped in a positive and empowering atmosphere of both caring for each other and learning. I think I’ve been adopted by Sangey Yudron. She loves learning things on the computer with me and when I spin her around! She even drew me a lovely picture of the campus with me in it. I’m happy to report that my chungi lessons, or the Monpa equivalent of a hacky sack, are coming along well!
I have been enriched here. Another new friend is resident Art Teacher Rinzin from Bhutan. He’s not just a painter, he’s also a cattle exporter. Well, not quite! He adventurously helped walk Jhamtse’s pregnant Jersey cow over from Bhutan with many breaks along the way, which shows the extra mile staff here go for the sake of the kids. He’s endlessly fascinated by foreigners with an interest in Himalayan culture. He’s shared his latest project with me which involves painting the Medicine Buddha. It’s great to learn his insights on the complex iconography of traditional Himalayan art and how he plans to teach the children this unique aspect of their cultural heritage.