JHAMTSE GATSAL is Tibetan for “garden of love and compassion”.
And it’s a fitting name for a school/orphanage in India that provides a home for 90 orphaned and abandoned children. The orphanage’s founder Lobsang Phuntsok featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Tashi and the Monk.
“Occasionally something comes along and we are reminded once more of the beauty in humanity, the importance of love and the eloquence and power of compassion,” Beaconsfield local Denise Groves says of the movie.
She’s helped organise a return visit to Fremantle for Phuntsok, who will be in town on Sunday to talk about the Jhamtse Gatsal orphanage, situated in a remote region of Arunachal Pradesh near the Bhutan and Tibet borders.
“It’s an opportunity to meet an amazing man,” Groves says.
Tashi and the Monk follows the arrival of the orphanage’s newest resident Tashi, a five-year-old girl who has become uncontrollable after her mother died and her alcoholic father absconded.
Tashi struggles to find her place amongst her 80 “new siblings”, but Phunstok’s patience, calming manner and compassionate understanding helps the youngster rehabilitate.
He enlists the pool of teenagers at the home to be mentors for the feisty newcomer.
Abandoned himself as a youngster, Phuntsok was a troubled child who became a Buddhist monk.
One of 10 monks chosen by the Dalai Lama to spread the word of tibetan buddhism in the west, he worked as a translator at the United Nations and lectured in America, Canada, Switzerland and Italy.
Believing his life calling was to rescue children at risk, Phuntsok established Jhamtse Gatsal in the remote Himalayan foothills in 2006.
Lobsang Phuntsok is talking at Replants, Sunday May 6 at 6pm. Entry by donation at trybooking.com/VHKQ.
by JENNY D’ANGER