Every year unknown numbers of Tibetans take the dangerous journey across the Himalayas in search of a better life and many of them will find a home free from Chinese oppression at McLeod Ganj. Among Indians and tourists, they will adjust to a different culture, but they will never forget their roots.
Tibetans have been pursuing freedom for more than 50 years and most of the young people currently living in Tibet have never even seen a picture of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Yet, whether in McLeod Ganj or Lhasa, we see the Tibetan youth engaged in the struggle for freedom started by their parents or grandparents. One would assume that with the considerable effort the Chinese government put into imposing their own culture in Tibet, the valuable culture of the Tibetan people would already have faded into history and been forgotten by current generations. However, regardless of where they live, Tibetans manage to preserve their traditional culture and religion.
During my stay in McLeod Ganj, I met Tibetans of all ages and backgrounds and, though in exile, each one of them shows a great respect and admiration for the culture of their homeland. I am from Brazil, where little is heard about the current situation of Tibet or its history, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to know more about this incredible culture, the life of Tibetans in exile, and their struggle.
During my volunteer experience at Lha, I worked with Massimo Giacchino (from Italy) on an eye care project called Clear Vision, which has been run yearly by Lha’s amazing staff. It offers vision tests, consults with an optometrist, and prescription glasses for the Tibetan community, all for free.
This year alone, Clear Vision has reached more than 100 people while distributing approximately 80 pairs of glasses. It has been a pleasure to meet every Tibetan that participated on this project and to see their smile as they received their new glasses. Though Massimo and I come from different countries and cultures, we both share an admiration for the Tibetan culture and gratitude for being able to learn more about it through Lha and life in McLeod Ganj. We are truly happy to carry on such a wonderful project and we hope it will continue to help the Tibetan community for many years.