Ama Jetsun Pema
“Education that enables you to become a happy person, capable of creating a happy society”
~ Ama Jetsun Pema
Ama Jetsun Pema, born as the younger sister of the 14th Dalai Lama in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, before its drastic upheavals, is an extraordinary teacher, a specialist in children’s education with a cosmopolitan outlook. From childhood, she was educated at Christian schools in India and Switzerland. Undergoing unimaginable experiences of light and darkness in exile, she was inaugurated as the first female government minister in Tibetan history. She has received many world-famous awards for her work in education and peace, including the UNESCO Medal in 1999. Ama Jetsun Pema is an eminent educator known for her warm-heartedness, with 45 years of practical experience in school teaching.
Through Jetsun Pema’s efforts in establishing the Tibetan Children’s Village institution (TCV) and its various branches across India, thousands of orphans, destitute and refugee children from Tibet and other Himalayan regions, found an education and maintained proximity to their Tibetan Buddhist roots.
With the assistance of the Government of India and other philanthropic organisations, Pema established a total of 10 residential schools, 17-day schools, three vocational training institutes, three hostels for college students and one college, spread across India. So far, 52,000 students have graduated from her institutions, of which 50% are Tibetan refugees. Apart from Tibetan children, her institutions also impart education to children from the Himalayan regions.
Her vision, relentless work ethic and an uncompromising commitment to the upliftment of young Tibetans translated into the transformation of this nursery to a full-fledged institution, which offered quality education and residential facilities. She went after international aid agencies, private donors, and the Government of India to acquire the requisite funds and permits for constructing more classrooms and houses for these children.
Today, TCV has eight major school branches with residential facilities across India. Every new branch that has opened is seemingly down to the necessity of absorbing the unabated flood of new refugees escaping Tibet.
In Lower Dharamshala, for example, TCV converted its poultry farm to a school. Today it is a formal institute offering primary and secondary education. In addition to these schools, TCV runs an institute of higher education, vocational centres, youth hostels and other outreach programmes. After 42 years, she stepped down as the president of TCV in August 2006.
Aside from her contribution to education and Tibetan politics, she is also a modern woman, breaking age-old traditions on the way. When her first husband passed away after a car crashed, she refused to abide by tradition and become a nun, as was the earlier practice. Instead, she married again. Today, she is married to Tempa Tsering, a representative for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and has two children.
Source: The Better India.