After experiencing Delhi, and inhaling that first breath of busy, smoggy and thick Delhi air, volunteers arriving in Dharamsala, weary and heavy-eyed, will find themselves totally lost in the environment, atmosphere, and people. It is easy to slip into worn clichés when describing McLeod Ganj as ‘home’, but in my relatively short experiences travelling, it is clear that this is a special place.
My role at Lha is as a graphic designer and creative writer, and from day one in the busy little corridor, just down the road from the temple of spinning prayer wheels and roadside momo stands, we all had jobs to do. Each volunteer was given an opportunity to play to their own strengths in what they could bring to the charity, producing a wide variety of inputs.
Maintaining the vital community work undertaken by Lha requires a huge amount of coordination and effort by everyone involved, and it was the passion and understanding of the organisation as a whole which helped everyone start working as soon as possible.
Despite the fact that this is still my first week here, it is clear that the work promises to be a varied and worthwhile experience. When the work is as beneficial and good as it is at Lha, and the atmosphere and environment so engaging and positive, as it is already turning out to be, then it is easy to see why Lha is highly regarded in the local and wider communities.
Through this time of increasing turmoil in Tibet, the international team of volunteers in McLeod Ganj seem united in their determination to positively impact on the local community, and despite the fact that I am not (yet) ‘on the ground’ teaching and instructing, I am proud to be a part of it.
It is absolutely clear that the work we do would not be possible if it weren’t for the humble, generous and positive attitude of the Tibetan community Lha interacts with, and it is immediately striking that despite the complete and desperate sadness that many have experienced, this positivity is retained more fully than I have ever experienced.
I only hope that my enthusiasm and humility can go some way to match that of those who we as a group, are helping. As McLeod Ganj quickly becomes that cliché I was so hoping to avoid, ‘home’, I am excited to continue my work as well to find new ways to help the community here during my relatively brief month.