One HEART in Tibet by Phil Borges
Guest Post by Phil Borges /
< editor’s note: it is with great pleasure that we get to share with you the second guest post from Phil Borges, Microsoft Icon of Imaging, who was working on a project in Tibet with One HEART. We hope to hear more from Phil at later dates about the future of the organization and project. The first post in the series can be found here. All images courtesy of and copyright 2009 Phil Borges. >
Nomad camp near Lake Namtso. Many nomads now get around on motorcycles.
Arlene Samen continues to make calls and hold meetings with the Tibetan doctors on her team in an effort to save her organization One HEART and the work it is doing in Tibet. There is not much I can do to document the work or help make a training film since no work is allowed without a signed contract from the Chinese government.
Everything has been on hold since last February! This delay is all very frustrating for Arlene, her Tibetan staff and now me!!
TsoTso 25 –gets up at 5am to milk the Yaks and again at 8 or 9 at night. Her mother passed away several years ago leaving the chores to her and her sister—both girls only went to primary school. Her father and brother work as electrical linemen.
Tsendrol 68 TsoTso’s grandmother--she has 6 children and 8 grand children. Tsendrol lived a nomadic lifestyle most of her life. Now she spends the entire year in a house in her village.
Arlene has managed to make an appointment with the head of the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) for this Tuesday the 14th.
Needless to say we are all excited and anxious about this upcoming meeting. The work One HEART has done and the results it has achieved speak volumes for it’s effectiveness and everyone is anxiously confident this meeting will be the turning point and the contract will be signed. On the other hand if the meeting does not have a positive outcome Arlene will have to close One HEART’s operation in Tibet. It is truly ‘do or die’ for One HEART.
Droga 37--- Herds and milks her 120 Yaks with her daughter. Her Husband takes care of their sheep. Her sons are in school. In the last 5 years many of the nomads in the area around Lake Namtso have acquired cell phones. The satellite dish receives radio only.
While waiting I made a trip to one of the Nomadic areas near Lake Namtso. Here are some of the typical people and families, mostly semi-nomadic, that One HEART serves.
Sotse 30 Yak herder.
Manzong 63-- and her husband (Tele, 63-- in background) are goat herders. They have 3 daughters and 1 son.
Tele and his grandson (Sonam Choedron, 3 months) Sonam like many nomad children was born in their yak hair tent. Only Manzong helped with the birth.
Goat milking time. Two times a day the goats are roped head to head while the whole family helps milk them.
I arrived back in Lhasa to learn that the meeting with the Regional Director of the TAR went poorly. Everyone is stunned. I returned to find the Tibetan staff alternatively sitting or walking around aimlessly staring into space. These are the people who I’ve come to know by their habitual smiles, laughs, and songs. They are in shocked disbelief. The organization that they have poured their hearts into is going to close. For Tibetans here in Tibet, jobs are very hard to come by. They may all be out of work for months. I find myself just mumbling to them ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’. The question I’m left with is ‘why?’.
Stupas in the valley under the sacred Nanchen Tangla Range.
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