London: As a mark of gratitude to the ‘Mother of Tibet’, Representative Sonam Frasi-led staff of the Office of Tibet in London attended the felicitation event of Lhacham Kusho Kasur Jetsun Pema organised by the TCV Alumni UK on Saturday, 28th October.
The honourable Lhacham Kusho Jetsun Pema, former Education Minister and President of the Tibetan Children’s Villages (TCV), was instrumental in educating with compassion, about a third of the Tibetan diaspora population. This is the first visit of the honourable lady to the UK after a long hiatus having retired from active service some years back.
Representative Sonam Frasi made haste back to London from Switzerland, between two major events of DIIR in Europe taking place in close succession – Geneva Forum last week and upcoming Europe V-TAG event in Germany this weekend – in order to attend Lhacham Kusho’s felicitation event.
At the request of the Tibetan Community in Britain (TCB), Representative Sonam Frasi presented TCB’s Appreciation Award to Lhacham Kusho and shared a vivid description of his first meeting with the honourable lady in 1974, when he went to TCV looking for employment as a fresh school graduate nervously seeking her out amongst the children in the playground. This scene perfectly contextualised what Lhacham Kusho stood for throughout her more than six decades of working life dedicated to nurturing the poor, destitute and orphans amongst Tibet’s future generation – being among the children, holding them close, listening and loving them like a mother would. It’s also the premise for the honour of ‘Mother of Tibet’ title bestowed on her by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. Having been one of the foremost architects of educating the ‘future seeds of Tibet’ which conventional wisdom states is the best and strongest foundation for protecting one’s culture and identity, Representative Sonam Frasi lauded her incomparable contribution to the nation-building efforts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – incarnate of Boddhisattva Chenrezig who has chosen to be the guardian of the land and people of Tibet. Kasur Kesang Takla presented the TCV Alumni UK’s Gratitude Award to Lhacham Kusho Kasur Jetsun Pema. Many TCV alumni members took stage to express their gratitude to ‘Ama Lhacham Kusho’. At TCV, she had, by providence and her innate compassionate nature, become ‘The Mother’ to the many Tibetans made orphans by the war with China, those who fled Chinese occupation since the 1980s, and the destitute and poor Tibetan refugee children in India, Nepal and Bhutan, who were given a home and family environment in these TCV schools. When Lhacham Kusho stood humbly and gracefully on the stage accepting these awards, it was the epitome of a gentle yet fierce motherly compassion – having protected, nurtured, struggled for and never given up on the thousands of motherless children that came her way. It provided a solemn reminder amongst the attendees of the centrality of a mother’s loving-kindness, biological or otherwise, in our lives and the high standards required of one’s own parenting responsibilities in nurturing good human beings.
In her acceptance speech, Lhacham Kusho advised on preserving Tibetan language and culture and highly stressed on the importance of unity amongst Tibetans, drawing reference to the lyrics and playback of His Holiness’s words in the song of Unity sung as part of the event’s cultural performances, pointing out that the “British people here will identify anyone amongst you here only as a Tibetan and not Khampa, Amdo or Utsang”.
On Sunday, 29th, Lhacham Kusho and Kungoe Kasur Tempa Tsering visited Tibet House Trust’s London School for Tibetan Language and Culture, interacting with the children, teachers and parents for a few hours. There, Lhacham Kusho highlighted the importance of knowing Tibetan language to preserve our identity and culture, and the primary role of parents’ in enabling the enculturation of their children in their home environment.
On Monday, 30th, Lhacham Kusho and Kungoe Kasur Tempa Tsering visited Tibet House where they were welcomed by the Representative and staff at the entrance with khatas and briefed about the current situation and focus of the Office of Tibet and Tibet House Trust. They then enjoyed a luncheon with a few long-term supporters catching up, reminiscing on their past connections and drawing up interesting ideas for the future during their conversations.
In the same evening, Lhacham Kusho gave a talk on ‘educating with compassion’ at the London Business School to a selective audience of educators, authors, doctors including members and friends of the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion (DLCC). Chair of the DLCC Kirstie Papworth, welcomed the guest after which the DLCC’s founder and author Alex Norman introduced the chief guest, skimming through the milestones of over six decades of her working life, the nick name ‘Amala’ meaning mother in Tibetan etc. Lhacham Kusho spoke about the early years of TCV, results of educating Tibetan children from 1960s to now, and persevering through the hardships propelled by the advice and guidance from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. She gave credit to the ‘innocence of the child’s mind’ to assess the appropriateness of her education policies and practices and creating a ‘peace zone’ in the schools to resolve conflicts or contemplate on inner conflicts to bring healthier relationships in the TCV schools. The audience asked questions as well sought advice from her after the speech. DLCC board member, Jimmy, spoke about the work of their organisation in enhancing SEE Learning in the UK, compassion-based education aligned with His Holiness’s teachings.
The Office of Tibet, London joined many fellow Tibetans from TCB and TCV Alumni on the 25th to welcome the dignitaries and then on Tuesday, 31st at the airport to wish them a safe return home.
Office of Tibet expressed gratitude to TCB, TCV Alumni UK and Tibetans in the UK for creating a beautiful memory of Lhacham Kusho’s visit to London after 25 years.
–Filed by the Office of Tibet, London