Jhamtse Gatsal

Partner From
01/02/2017 - On Going
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Supported by: Wipro Cares

About Jhamtse Gatsal

Established in 2006, today Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community is a home and educational center for 103 orphaned, abandoned and underprivileged children ranging from toddlers through college age. Jhamtse Gatsal is located at the trijunction of India, Tibet, and Bhutan in the remote foothills of the Himalayas in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India. The children come from backgrounds of trauma and adversity, from nearby villages of Tawang district and primarily belong to the Monpa tribe, which has its roots in Tibet. The Community has 40 adults including educators, housemothers (Ama las), kitchen, support and administrative staff. Jhamtse Gatsal was featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary film ‘Tashi and The Monk’.

Our Philosophy

Jhamtse Gatsal is Tibetan for “Garden of Love and Compassion.” The founder intentionally chose the metaphor of a garden because gardening is believing in the future, believing in the potential of a tiny seed to grow into a magnificent, bountiful tree. As a gardener envisions abundant, fruit-laden trees when s/he tirelessly nurtures the seeds, so is our work of raising and educating children at Jhamtse Gatsal. We see in children the immeasurable potential to become their most amazing selves. However, this potential is not something that we, the adults, carve or shape them into, as though children were a lifeless piece of wood. It is nurtured over years, showered with love and compassion so it can grow, sustaining and regenerating itself in countless ways for generations to come.

COVID 19 – Our New Normal

The year 2020 has been a challenging time for the world at large; Jhamtse Gatsal is no exception. We have been in lockdown since March 2020 in light of the rising number of cases in the country and the region.

Over the past 2 months, the cases within our state have dropped to zero. Thus, we have updated our SOPs with some relaxation of travel within the district in order to ensure that our children and community members are safe from the novel Coronavirus. Following these protocols has allowed us to operate with some degree of normalcy within the Community. With the understanding that we are fortunate to be shielded from the pandemic, the children initiated a number of projects to make valuable use of their time while school was shut down. They made videos in the local language to educate the villagers about the pandemic and the preventive measures to take to stay safe. These videos can be found here and here. They also made masks for the community members and for distribution in the region.

Being on lockdown for over 10 months, we also focused inward – on our vision and mission as a community, our practices, our learning from the past 15 years and our path ahead. With all Community members on campus and fully engaged in these discussions, we feel that this has been an extremely productive period for us. As a culmination of these discussions, we have made several changes to our daily lives as detailed below:

  1. The Karmayaan Practice: Karmayaan is a deliberate introspection and self-analysis tool to help us to understand the relationship between our actions and their consequences. The goal is not just to stop inappropriate behaviors, but also to help children learn, reflect, and engage to transform.
  2. Seven Elements of Growth: A value-based approach to the days of the week with associated practices for each day, like interdependence, equanimity, generosity etc.
  3. Project Period: An hour set aside every day for children to work on community-level projects of their choice, like rainwater harvesting, farming etc.
  4. SEES Program: A community-wide Social-Emotional Evaluation System to help measure our actions through our mind-heart-body roots, which helps us assess and understand our social-emotional growth as well as identify and target focused areas of development.

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