In northern India, SOS Children provides support and care for refugees from Tibet. This includes Mussoorie-Happy Valley, in the state of Uttarakhand, where we began working in 1971.
In 1959 the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet. Soon after the Central Tibetan Adminitration moved to Mussoorie in north India, and later Dharamsala. The regions are now home to thousands of Tibetans who live with few resources.
Families living in exile
Around 5,000 Tibetans are thought to live in Mussoorie, including two generations who have grown up in exile. Periods of unrest often trigger further influxes of refugees. Sometimes children are sent to Mussoorie by their parents, as here they can receive a Tibetan education.
The beautiful landscapes, and cultural sites have attracted tourists the the area. The tourist industry is a source of income for many Tibetans, who work as tour guides, in restaurants, hotels and retail services. Others sell their crafts to the visitors, such as carpets and small items.
A lack of opportunities
Tourism is good for earning an income, but also has negative side-effects including environmental damage and pressure on infrastructure. There are limited opportunities for work in Mussoorie, so many educated young Tibetans leave the region in search of a better life. Overall, unemployment is high, meaning a lot of families struggle to make ends meet.
To add to the struggle of getting basic needs, new arrivals come with scars from the oppression and trauma they experienced in Tibet. These experiences take time to recover and heal from, impacting individuals ability to adapt to their new life.
Supporting refugee Tibetan children
With the support of the Dalai Lama, the ‘Tibetan Homes Foundation’ was established in 1962 to create SOS Children's Villages for Tibetan children in exile. The first was in Mussoorie, which was quickly full of children with no-one else to care for them. We then opened another Village next door, known as Mussoorie-Happy Valley, to accomodate more children in need.
To support the surrounding community, we provide financial support so families can afford school fees or the costs of caring for their elderly relatives.
SOS Children's Village Happy Valley
Every child living in our Village in Mussoorie-Happy Valley has lost the care of their parents. While some are orphaned, others are seperated from their parents who still live in Tibet or elsewhere in India.
These children are cared for in an SOS family, alongside biological and SOS siblings. Due to the great number of lone children in the region, these SOS families are much larger than in other parts of the world, with sometimes up to 30 children in one family.
Young children attend the SOS Nursery, which is also open to children from the surrounding community. Here little ones make friends and integrate with their peers. Local parents are pleased to have somewhere safe and educational to leave their children while they go out to work.
Once a little older, they attend the SOS Primary School and later the SOS Secondary School. Education at these schools is in line with Tibetan beliefs. Upon reaching adolescence, youn people can gain vocational skills or receive higher education. Our Vocational Training Centre offers a range of courses, including dress-making, arts and handicrafts, which will help them to earn an income as they become adults.
Uniquely, there is also a holiday camp at Mussoorie, so that children from across India can spend their winter holidays in the beautiful environment.
Children who have fled Tibet live in uncertain circumstances in northern India. These vulnerable children need your support, to show they are cared for and deserve a loving childhood. Will you sponsor a Tibetan child today?