Ethno-Tibetan Children and Teenagers in the Dolpo Region
Many ethnic Tibetans live in the so-called remote areas of the Nepalese Himalayan region. There are also Tibetans who settled here after their escape from their home country. Their children are not catered for by the country’s social network nor do they receive support from the exiled Tibetan government and as a rule they get nothing from the Nepalese authorities.
It is very difficult to establish an educational infra-structure in these remote villages. It is seldom that this succeeds in the way that it did in Saldang.
The village of Saldang is near the Tibetan border in the Dolpo at an altitude of some 4200 metres. Although the region is in the northwest of Nepal, culturally it belongs to Tibet. It is a hard life for people who live in the Dolpo. They exist in this moutainous wasteland in the same way as their forefathers did a hundred years ago - without roads and without electricity. They tend their barren fields and trek with their Yak caravans over the border passes to Tibet for trade. Despite this desperately hard life the Dolpopa are known for their cheerfulness and their deep-seated religiosity.
Up until the end of the 1990’s the children of Saldang were unable to attend school although the villagers wanted to create this opportunity for them to learn and to keep the traditions of their home country alive.
It was during a visit to the Dolpo in 1995 that a Tibetan activist and Shelter108 friend, Adelheid Dönges, resolved to provide help. She succeeded in establishing a school in Saldang with the support of the villagers and the organisation, Friends of Nepal e.V.
And in 1999 the first pre-school class was opened.
Today the Shelri Drukta School boasts two pre-school classes, junior school classes 1 through 5 and middle school classes 6 and 7. As well as the Nepalese school curriculum the children are also taught their mother tongue, Tibetan. Shelter108 has founded a youth hostel in Kathmandu for especially gifted children.