Tibetan Refugees Paved the way for Syrian Refugees on the Sunshine Coast

The first two Syrian refugee families have completed their first year on the Coast, sponsored by a Gibsons Church. They are doing well and are enjoying being part of this special, supportive community. They have paved the way for the next family, sponsored by the Sechelt Activity Centre, later this year.

Being part of the Syrian folks lives has been an honour and a privilege, and we are happy to call them our friends, as we do the Tibetan family we sponsored several years ago.

The first Tibetan families from remote northeast India, arrived on the Sunshine Coast in December of 2013 and were followed by several more families, for a total of close to 20 here in our community. The private sponsorship project ended at the end of 2016.

All these folks have made a positive difference, enriching our community by their hard work, their deep spirituality and friendly manner. They are willing to help other new refugees, like they were helped. The 1st arrivals  helped the next Tibetans. Now the Tibetans help the Syrians in any way needed, by attending fundraisers and loaning their vehicles.

We get so much back from volunteering, whether in India or at home. As the research has shown, helping releases feel good brain chemicals: dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin.

There’s more, but you can read the article through the link if you’re interested.

I really can’t imagine what my life was like before we began volunteering!

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Light or Darkness, Your Choice

For me this is a time to step back, to simplify, to clarify my personal truth. To pay attention to the guidance that is always within and around me, whether my awareness is focused on it or not. Trusting that things are unfolding as they are meant to, that chaos is leading us to new clarity is a challenge, but this way of being has been slowly developing for many of us over many years.

We have a choice, to go to the light, or to the dark. To make our life about positivity in all ways…in our thoughts, words and actions. For much good is taking place on this planet, despite, or perhaps because of, the darkness.

The searching for the light, is a good thing, because “…We are the ones we have been waiting for!!” as the words of A Hopi Elder Speaks tell us. The poem has been attributed to many people, including Thomas Banyacya Sr., (1910-1999), an Elder of the Hopi Nation. This widely adopted poem was apparently originally meant for the Hopi, however it has felt meaningful and timely since I first came across it a few years ago.

The Grandmothers and their Net of Light  are sending the same message, although wrapped in a different package. The Grandmothers are a council of ascended souls, who teach about the Net of Light, the healing net that surrounds the planet. Their message is a powerful one: they have come to help rectify the imbalance between yin and yang on this earth. They are here for any and all of us, female or male, whoever is drawn to them, folks want to both help the world and be uplifted themselves.

In 2002 Nasa first saw the Net through the Hubble Telescope, and named it the Cosmic Web. This web of invisible dark matter lights up the galaxies, enabling scientists to see them better than before. Here are beautiful Hubble pics.

Since my introduction to the Grandmothers and the Net a few months ago, on the surface my life has remained the same , but internally I am different…more focused, more in touch with spirit. My work with the Grandmothers and the Net  harmonizes with and enhances other aspects of my life.

In this current time of massive dichotomy and changes, we all have a choice – to go to the Light and create a sacred space wherever we are, or wallow in the negativity of Darkness and hopelessness.

Which do you choose?

Ellen

Copyright Ellen Besso 2017

The Grandmothers picture is from a Net of Light newsletter; painted by one of the members.

 

 

Fall Again…new beginnings

The days are warm, the nights cool. I sit on my back deck surrounded by my friends, the giant conifers, soaking in the afternoon sun, squeezing the last drops of heat from the thinning sun before it sinks behind the trees.

The monsoon season is almost over in Dharamsala India. The weather is cooler this fall than usual I’m told. It’s been close to a decade since I discovered McLeod Ganj, Upper Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetans in exile, but every year at this time, I long to return to the place where a part of my spirit permanently resides.

A prediction was made more than one thousand years ago by Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche: “When the iron bird flies [airplanes]…the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the world, spreading [their culture and Tibetan Buddhism].”

Perhaps next fall, or the next one, we will go back to Dharamsala, before more of our Tibetan friends leave. They truly are spread around the world: France, the US, Australia, one waiting with hope in Toronto for permission to immigrate with his family.

This year my partner is winding down his survey business, preparing to retire at the end of the year. I am returning to my creative and spiritual pursuits, restoring myself after intense immersion in another sponsorship program, this time with Syrian refugees.

As our planet, and we along with it, moves deeper into the vibration of the fifth dimension, I renew my goal to be in connection with spirit continually, participating in activities that feed me and spending time with folks I have deep connections with.

My year’s experience attending the powerful Divine Love prayer circle and the friendships developed there have helped me tremendously with my spiritual pursuits. So has my relationships with the devote Christians on the Working Committee for the Syrian sponsorship, a local church sponsorship, and my time  with our two Christian Syrian families.

Maintaining contact with spirit is simple, if we allow it to be so. I am slowly learning this truth. Angels are around us all the time, and the more we acknowledge this and ask them for assistance, the stronger our connection becomes to spirit.

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself, [herself], in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
Albert Einstein

 

Gibsons will host its first Syrian Refugee Family

    “Everything that divides us weakens us.”   Source: Associated Press

The idea of being part of an organized group bringing refugees to Canada on an ongoing basis has resonated with me for several years. From late 2013 into 2015 we were part of a group that sponsored a family of Tibetans into our community, as part of Canada’s Tibetan Resettlement project. The group of 1000 Tibetans who have arrived, or hope to come to Canada, if they have private sponsors, are from the remote tribal states of northeast India, specifically the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

We were inspired to participate in this project because of our travels and volunteer work in India, in Dharamsala, the home of His Holiness the Dali Lama. Each  Tibetan we met there, through our work, at Men-Tsee-Khang Medical Clinic or on the street, impressed us with their sincerity, groundedness and spirituality. Our lives have been deeply enriched through both our experiences in India and here in our home community. We will always remain close to our Tibetan friends in both countries.

Now it feels right to branch out, to step up and help with the needs of Syrian refugees. Many are waiting in Jordon, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey to be sponsored, either by governments or private sponsors. Conditions are very difficult. Last winter there were windstorms and flooding in Jordan. Many shelters in camps were destroyed. Urban refugees suffered through bitterly cold nights, sometimes below freezing.

We will be playing a small part in helping Syrian families, by being part of Christian Life Assembly’s church/community partnership that is bringing the first family to Gibsons, through a private sponsorship.

There are many things we can all do to help:

  • Sponsor a refugee family
  • Donate to private sponsorship groups in your community
  • Donate to UNHCR to help refugees waiting to find homes
  • Help sponsorship groups by being a volunteer
  • Attend the CLC Valentine Dance Saturday February 13th (tickets through CLC, Laedli and myself)

Here are some informative articles:

Who are the 25,000 Syrians Coming to Canada?

United Nations High Commission for Refugees – UNHCR

“Whether we like it or not, we have all been born on this earth as part of one great human family…ultimately each of us is just a human being like everyone else: we all desire happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, each of us has an equal right to pursue these goals. Today’s world requires that we accept the oneness of humanity.”          

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

PLS NOTE: The picture at the top is of a refugee child holding a picture she drew of her former home. Credit abcnewsgo.com.

A Tibetan Refugee Woman’s Story

I would like to bring in the New Year by offering you the story of Tsering, a woman we met in Dharamsala last year. We met her through another friend and I interviewed her in  February of 2015 in our room at Pema Thang Guesthouse. Of all the Tibetan refugee stories I have edited over a period of six years, Tsering’s is, in many ways, the most moving one. Although she was so young at the time, the events of her early life and escape to India are still very fresh in her mind. She is now 26 years old.

Tsering’s Story

I have no parents; I’m an orphan, from the province of Kham in Tibet. When I was nine years old, in 1999, a kind neighbour and an uncle helped me leave my abusive life in a Tibetan town and escape across the border into Nepal, then on to India.

In my early years I didn’t get a chance to play like other kids because of my difficult situation. In our family I’m the second youngest of five children; I have two brothers and two sisters. Everyone was busy at their own work I was alone in the house.

After I was born my mother was sick and I lived with her for the first year of my life only. Then I was sent to my mother’s eldest sister to live in town, where I worked very hard and never had time to play. By the age of five I was looking after the cows. Even though my aunt was a blood relative, they didn’t treat me like their own child, but like a servant, a maid.

My aunt came from a very poor family of nine girls. She married at an early age, an arranged marriage I think. The family became the richest family in the town. She had money and power, but never gave anything to her family members.

When I was seven I had a chance to meet a Rinpoche and told him everything about my situation and my family. Through his help I was accepted as a day student at a boarding school one hour’s walk from home. I studied there for two or three years. But they would call me back from school to work at my auntie’s house. Her husband drank and he beat me all the time. He never wanted me to spend a single day like other kids. By the time I was nine, he forced me to work for other families, nomadic people who also had farms.

Neighbours noticed how badly I was treated, and said “You don’t have to stay here, you’ll never be happy”. So one of the women took me in the night, and we walked to Lhasa. It took us about fifteen days to get there, journeying during the night and resting in the daytime, so my auntie’s family would not find us. We went to the home of my aunt, a young woman in her twenties. Later my uncle came to see me and tried to send me back home. He said the family promised to treat me well, but I knew they were lying. I told him, “If you send me back I’ll run away.”

My uncle came back again after Losar, the Tibetan New Year, after I had been in Lhasa for two or three months. He took me to the border of Nepal, where he left me in the hands of two Nepalese boys, not much older than me, would be my guides from the border to Kathmandu. I had no Nepalese language, but they knew a little Tibetan. We walked most of the night every night. When I was tired they carried me on their backs. Sometimes we slept on the ground.

One night the boys left me, one going ahead as a lookout to check if Chinese soldiers were in the area. The other boy thought I was following him, but I was asleep under a tree. When that boy caught up with the first boy, he asked him where I was. They came back for me, both crying. In their limited Tibetan they asked, “What are you doing here, why are you sleeping?

We reached the Reception Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal after about fifteen days. The trip was slow because we stayed hidden during the day. I knew no one at the centre. After about a month I was sent to the Delhi Reception Centre, then here to McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, on my own the whole way.

At the Dharamsala centre I was the youngest person, all the other refugees were either families or monks. They treated me well. It was here that I met a young monk who helped me. After a while he went into a monastery, but came to visit me sometimes. I’ve lost touch with him and don’t know his name. I’ve tried to find him, asking many people about him. He was a tall man, that’s all I remember. Maybe he’s in a South India monastery now.

After a time at the Reception Centre I was sent to the Tibetan Children’s Village, or TCV school, where I boarded and studied for almost eight years, until the tenth grade. Because I was good at my studies I skipped a grade and was sent to TCV Gopalpur, a half hour’s distance from Dharamsala. Many of the children there were without parents, they were orphans or their parents had sent them to India from Tibet to have a better life.

“You remember so much”, I said to Tsering. “I have seen so much.” came the reply.

In 2011, when I was in my early twenties, my auntie’s young brother-in-law came to India, to the Kalachakara teachings in Boddhgaya, North India, where the Dalai Lama performs special Buddhist initiations. While I was there some monks told me he was looking for me, to take me back to Tibet. I told them not to say I was there.

 

Tsering survived her difficult early years with her abusive family, and received the best education the Tibetan government in exile could offer her at TCV Schools. She now has a very good job in a large Tibetan NGO in Dharamsala, where she helps other refugees.

When she speaks to her brothers and sisters in Tibet by telephone, this younger sister always tells them, “Don’t ask anyone to help you, you know what they’re [the family] like. You’re healthy, you can do everything yourself.”

I asked Tsering if there was anything else she would like to tell me. She replied that she appreciates westerners who have so much feeling for Tibet causes, who learn about issues like self-immolation, and work hard to help. Some Tibetans have much less feeling about Tibet, she told me. Tsering ended our conversation with: “I thank you for your kind consideration for Tibet and the Tibetan people.”.

 

We’d Better Get Going!

“To be of service to others through your inner gifts, your intuition, your courage, your talents and your creativity is possible for all those who are willing to respond to the needs of others.”       Caroline Myss

A dear friend, an eighty-two year medium, said to me a couple of months ago: “You’ve got a deep purpose. How old are you?…[66]…Well, you’d better get going!”

After fifteen months of processing what was and what might have been in my life, something that felt necessary before moving into the next phase, things suddenly  clicked into place one morning, when the words “There’s a lot to be done” came into my body in a visceral way, somehow intersecting my head and my heart.

Although it’s not clear at this point, I can “see” in a fresh, deeper, knowing way, that my place in the world is significant, that clearing my own stale issues and helping others will contribute to the healing of the planet. When we all do what we can it has a cumulative effect. Awakening each morning and being a positive force in the world, emitting positive, healing energy – that in itself is enough to make a significant difference.

For me there’s something about writing that moves me forward. Recommitting to expressing myself this way, after a couple of years of not writing, gives me impetus. Baby steps, like buying the chair I will use for my newly emerging energy work, and joining others in our community who in a mutual goal tohelp Syrian families are other pieces.

Yes, there is a lot to be done in the world, and more and more of us are now contributing to what will become a critical mass of healing and growth for our planet and everyone living on it.

Ellen Besso is a life coach, counsellor, author & energy worker. Her work combines her newly emerging High Heart Chakra work, EMDR, Reiki & Trager. Ellen’s books, “An Indian Sojourn” and “Surviving Eldercare”, can be purchased through Amazon or from Ellen. contact her through the blog comment section or email her at: ellenbesso@gmail.com.