The Snow Lion, a magical animal of Tibet, symbolises strength, fearlessness and joy. These qualities are embodied by the children who attend a school situated in the foothills of the himalayas where a snow lion can be found animated by children that keep his spirit alive.
The Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Institute (ITBCI) school was started in 1954 by the late Dhardo Rinpoche (1918-90). He established the school for Tibetan refugees coming over the border from Tibet. He wanted to provide an education to children from these poor families living in exile as well as pass on Tibetan culture and values to the younger generation.
In recent years, the size of the school has expanded and now has 225 students. Alongside Tibetan pupils, there are Bhutias, Bhutanese, Sikkimese, Lepchas, Tamangs, Gurkhas, Nepalis, Assamese and Bihari pupils.
The students benefit from a holistic education. They learn the official syllabus as well as traditional Tibetan arts and culture. The current dance teacher is the son of one of the very first students who came over from Tibet with Dhardo Rinpoche, who in turn became a teacher. The Snow Lion used for cultural shows at the school is still the very one made by his father, continuing the tradition across generations.
‘Cherish the doctrine; live united; radiate love’.
The motto given to the school by the respected founder Dhardo Rinpoche is ‘Cherish the doctrine; live united; radiate love’. As Chenzom, the Headmistress of the school says:
“There is love in the school. We’ve created a friendly and supportive environment. We want to help the child in every way. For example, one child had a fire at home and his family lost everything. We kept him here in the school, provided him with a uniform and kept him for a year until the family had established a new home. When they leave we try to guide them still.”
How you can help
Around 70 of the students live at the school. These students come from difficult family backgrounds and, without the secure, safe environment offered by the school, would not be able to continue their studies. No other school in the area offers subsidised, quality education to poor children and their families.
It costs £137 each year to give a child an education and ensure Tibetan arts and culture are not lost. Please give what you can to protect this lineage.