Every first Saturday of the month, DIIR’s Social Media Desk profiles a civil servant of Central Tibetan Administration as a part of its shout-out campaign, This week we are pleased to profile Ms. Ngawang Tenzin, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Health, Central Tibetan Administration.
Social Media Executive (SME): Could you tell me briefly about yourself?
Ngawang Tenzin (NT): I was born in Bylakuppe Dickey Larsoe settlement to Tibetan farmers and studied in CST CVP school up to class 10 and then joined CST Mundgod to study science. Just like most other school toppers, I was expected to try for the medical course but I only loved reading and found this passion as a 9-year-old child trying to survive poverty and troubles at home. During my senior schooling, I even dreamed of pursuing a monastic life than prepare for the medical entrance exam like my peers so that I can spend my life, reading books and understanding more about life and people. But being the eldest daughter, I was compelled to take up the BSC Nursing course at Manipal University. The Idea was to go abroad and find a job with a good income.
But the beginning of 2009 self-immolations in Tibet and the death of a friend at college made me question the meaning of life in exile and existence again. I was unhappy and had to take some months off and during this period, I joined a volunteer post for a survey work undertaken by the women empowerment desk of CTA. I met hundreds of Tibetan women for the survey and that’s when I found my calling. After graduating from the university in 2012, I immediately left for Dharamsala. I passed the interview for the pre-service training for youths interested in serving the Central Tibetan Administration. Many were surprised and asked why someone with a Nursing degree is here. But I completed the course with the highest marks and was selected for section officer post in the Health Department. It’s been more than 7 years working here and Last year I was selected for Deputy Secretary Post through the exam.
SME: Please explain your job description and how best does your work represent you or vice versa?
NT: I work as the head of Disease prevention section overlooking RMNCHA, Mental, TB, HIV program among others. This includes planning and overseeing the work carried out by the respective coordinator for the programs, organizing capacity-building workshops and pieces of training, health awareness activities and other administrative related work. Earlier, my jobs were more donors and project-oriented which requires me to work more in English. Being appointed in the health department gave me more opportunity to grow professionally as well as a person. I was able to use whatever knowledge I had, in implementing and initiating projects that could promote health. I love working with women and especially with projects related to adolescents and mental health. I find my work challenging but exciting as well. What everyone wants is a cure, an immediate solution but without individual and community participation, it’s difficult to achieve anything and that includes health. We have a responsibility to create access to services and supportive policies and also empower and enable people to see that.
SME: What inspired you to serve the CTA?
NT: My Father, the man who would wake us up at 4 am to study and always put the welfare of his children and the Tibetan cause before anything else. A silent and hardworking man, he believed that we were going to Tibet soon, so much so that we were the only house in our camp without toilet till I turned 14 and started complaining. He thought it’s a waste of time and money to build anything since we were supposed to be going back to Tibet soon anyway.
But none of this would have been possible without the monetary support from my relatives and DOE scholarship to pursue my college degree.
The biggest inspiration as I mentioned before came from the 2009 self-Immolation events. I started reading more on Tibet and the sacrifices of those brave Tibetans in Tibet who continue to resist and voice against the Chinese oppression despite the threat to their very existence made me feel ashamed of my existence. They were doing it for every Tibetan’s future and there I was, a fellow Tibetan with a shared history, thinking about a nice life.
SME: What does it mean for you to be a civil servant in CTA?
NT: Everything. For me, my work is not a job. It is a promise I am keeping, for my father, for myself. It is the very thing beside my daughter that makes me want to wake up in the morning and look forward to life. There are many ways to work for the Tibetan cause. My fate leads me to CTA, I plan to serve to the best of my ability. I also believe that as a civil servant, we have the moral obligation to acknowledge constructive criticisms and strive to continue improving one’s knowledge and skills so that we can be deserving of the post we have been appointed to.
SME: How best do you think you can make a difference to CTA?
NT: By remaining steadfast to one’s commitments and carrying out our role and responsibility sincerely, I believe each and every staff can make a difference to CTA and the Tibetan issue. And just becoming a CTA staff is not the end of the journey. We shouldn’t misuse the term “Serve”. Just becoming a CTA staff is not serving the Tibetan people. If we really want to make a difference in one’s life or work, sometimes we need to speak up, face fears, and come out of our comfort zone. And also as a woman in a leadership position, we have a huge opportunity as well as the responsibility to represent other women and make a difference. It is not shameful for women to speak out, take leadership roles, or be ambitious. If we can challenge our own barriers, nothing can stop us.
SME: Who is your role model and why?
NT: Obviously, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There is no one above or beyond him who could be a better role model for any human being. And I don’t think I need to explain why. I can’t even imagine where we would be, or where the Tibetan issue would be, without him. And if everyone in the world can understand and follow even some of his wisdom, the world would be so much better.
SME: What is your piece of advice for the young Tibetans serving or wishing to serve at CTA?
NT: I don’t think I am worthy of advising anyone as I don’t have the merit or qualification to do so. But as a fellow young CTA staff, I would like to appeal to everyone not to lose hope. Due to the online and social media activities perhaps backed by China and fueled by people’s ignorance, I see that sometimes people might lose hope and trust in CTA and staff and even our cause. People have the right to question everything, but they also have the duty to check the legitimacy of the information they are receiving. As long as the Tibetan issue remains unsolved and China continues to clamp down on the very basic rights of the Tibetan, CTA needs to exist. We the younger generation have the responsibility to uphold the vision set by our predecessors. Do not get disheartened because of some protocols or disappointments. We can’t change or achieve everything in a day or month but if we have hope, dream, and dedication to serving, all roads lead to LHASA.