Newsletter January 2011

Once again my latest trip took me to the old people’s home in Shimla, and this time it has been something really special. It was Christmas – a very different Christmas.

Last April, when I was at the old people’s home where we had another “Eye Camp”, I promised to be back. I was deeply touched by the elderly people and decided to go on supporting their home as best I can. At present 37 elderly people and 5 staff members are staying at the old people’s home.

Most importantly, I was concerned about getting the elderly people some heating. As the old people’s home is situated in an altitude of 2000 metres, it can be bitter cold in winter, sometimes there’s even snow. There is no heating, and sometimes people freeze to death while they are sleeping.

The best and quickest option was getting gas heating, as there often is no electricity in winter. Now it’s quite warm and cosy in the common room where they have meals and do their prayers. I had arranged for the heating to be installed in October when it quite often starts getting really cold.

Besides, I wanted to get the elderly people various necessities to keep the warm: slippers, blankets, winter jackets and trousers.

As you won’t get warm slippers in India, I bought them back home in Austria – in the Tyrol. All of that was made possible thanks to the many donations, last but not least from the people in Innervillgraten (the Tyrol).

The rest of what was needed most dearly we bought from local tradesmen in India. We arrived at the old people’s home with the whole kit and caboodle.

We had long been expected and our joy at meeting again was great.

The elderly people are so happy about their new heating. They enjoy spending time in the common room during the day and feeling warm and comfortable. Luckily, the pain in their joints has worn off. Of course I had to take a look of the heating and I was surprised how warm it felt in that fairly large room. The heating period will last until March, the gas needed for heating has been paid in advance.

I told the elderly people that back home in Austria we celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, we give each other presents and bring joy to family and friends.

They were deeply touched when they got their presents and were genuinely surprised by the loads of presents they were given.

Of course I insisted on having a very special Christmas feast. A traditional Tibetan fest consists of ‘Momos’ (filled pastries). So we made ‘Momos’ together, which is a lot of work but was great fun. I had brought with me a selection of traditional Austrian Christmas cookies and we had a great Christmas party.

The modesty and gratitude with which people there receive, always leaves me with utmost respect and humility.

Being with them always is something very special and I have taken all of them to my heart. When I’m with them I’m always moved to tears.

Saying good-bye was hard and I had to promise to come visit again, a promise I definitely intend to keep!!

I’m looking forward to seeing them all again in July.

A huge thank you to everyone whose support and help made this possible!

All the best for the Near Year – Tashi Delek

More photos...