The Malagiri School


September 2008 – our friend and Tibetan monk Pema Dorjee, speaks at the University of Brighton

It’s just over a year since our visit to Malagiri and in that time we have had discussions with two of our friends about the possibility of starting a school for 3 to 8 year olds. Pema, is a Tibetan monk and lives in Nepal and India, and Carin, who lives in Sweden. If we are able to build a school for the younger children then the older youngsters could go to walk to the government school down the mountain.

Pema arrives in England at the end of September 2008 to stay with Denise and me and to sep 08give public talks. He has a very busy programme but just after we arrive home from Heathrow I get a call from the Care Home where my dad lives to say he has been taken ill. I spend the night in Worthing Hospital and dad dies the following morning.

Buddhist philosophy at the University of Brighton
Pema is only here a few days and we have decided to continue with his programme. Pema gives talks about Buddhist philosophy emphasising references to helping others, compassion and loving kindness. He talks about the possibility of building the Malagiri School and donations from his talks will go to the school project.

We rise early on Sunday and have a successful interview on Radio Sussex. The Malagiri School Project is beginning to feel a possibility.

It’s Monday and a very busy day at the University of Brighton. 180 new students have arrived to train to become primary teachers. As Year 1 Leader I spend the day giving induction talks, organising tours and quizzes and at 4.00 Pema comes to talk to staff and students about the Malagiri Project. About 80 people have arrived in Mayfield House to listen to the talk.

This is the first talk about Malagiri at the University of Brighton. I introduce Pema and he speaks not only about the aims of the project but also shares some of his memories.

Pema’s story
Pema escaped from Tibet over the Himalayas in 1959 when he was eight years of age. His family walked over high mountain passes for 18 days to arrive in Nepal. When they arrived the climate, customs, food and even water and insects (particularly mosquitoes) were very different to what they were used to in Tibet. The family got sick and Pema was the only one fit enough to go out and beg or exchange their few family possessions for food.

It was a very distressing existence and eventually when the Dalai Lama settled in the Indian Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala, Pema and his family moved to be with them.

To get to Dharamsala, Pema and his family had a very difficult journey in the back of a truck. They were all sick and Pema remembers travelling on the Rajpath Road and hence would have passed the hamlet of Malagiri.

Pema gets very emotional telling these stories and sheds a tear or two during the talk. We show staff and students photographs and plans of the school and my colleague Hilary Morris encourages the audience to give generously to the Project. Over £250 is collected.

View images from the visit

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