I felt India’s draw from a young age, as a teenager I recall. The desire grew after our Grade 13 English teacher in Toronto taught us about Hinduism and explained the Wheel of Nirvana (or self- enlightenment) by having us lie on the floor as she guided us through a process whereby we envisioned the wheel spinning and ourselves moving through the stages of Hindu spirituality.
Although I do wish I had experienced the country in my twenties, the three journeys over the past six years have been uplifting, life changing. They opened so many doors, introducing me to other worlds. Little did I know that it wasn’t just India herself and Indians I would be meeting, but that Tibetan India specifically would begin to play such an important role in my life.
I think of McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala almost daily, about the spiritual atmosphere there and about our dear friends who dwell there. We connect regularly with them and with two young friends who were able to leave India, one to go to Boston to marry a Tibetan-American, the other accompanying a Tibetan Buddhist lama to Belgium. Their lives have changed dramatically over the past year, but they’re young and very adaptable, seasoned refugees who made the gruelling trip out of Tibet (twice in the case of one of them) in their teens and twenties.
We’re not able to help our friends emigrate from India, but we can assist some of the 1000 Tibetans refugees Canada is allowing to enter our country from remote Arunachal Pradesh in the North India Tribal States, located between Myanmar, Bhutan and China. We are sponsors in the Gibsons BC group of six people, and our family will be arriving in a few short weeks at Vancouver International Airport. Along with our financial sponsorship and resettlement support the families will receive Permanent Residency visas as soon as they set foot on Canadian soil, a priceless gift.
We are excited and a bit nervous about what will unfold over the next few months. Our family speaks very little English (the father, with advanced English, remains behind in India and will join his family a couple of months later.). With the help of Tibetan language sheets and a lot of sign language, and of course our Canadian Tibetan friends, we will learn to work as a team to support each member of the family as they establish themselves in our community and our country.