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Following the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950 and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s flight to India in 1959, it was quickly apparent that one of the most critical needs of Tibetan refugees was finding a means to care for the many children who had been orphaned or separated from their families during the arduous escape from their homeland. His Holiness promptly recognised that the future of Tibet and its people depended upon the younger generation. With this in mind and out of concern for the miserable conditions under which so many children were suffering, His Holiness proposed that a centre for destitute children be established in Dharamsala.UTCV On 17 May 1960, fifty-one children arrived from the road construction camps in Jammu, ill and malnourished. Mrs. Tsering Dolma Takla, the elder sister of His Holiness, volunteered to look after them. Initially these children were assigned to members of the Dalai Lama’s entourage, but before long the Government of India offered its assistance, renting Conium House to accommodate all the children together. At that time, the centre was under the name “Nursery for Tibetan Refugee Children.”Originally, the Nursery for Tibetan Refugee Children provided only basic care for children. When they reached the age of eight, they were sent to other residential schools established by the Government of India. But eventually this arrangement could not be continued as all the residential schools filled to capacity. This left the Nursery to find a solution to the problem of overcrowding. Thanks to the foresight and courage of Mrs. Jetsun Pema, then the Director, it was decided that the Nursery had to grow and expand despite many apparent obstacles.A massive re-organization plan was set into motion. This included seeking help from private donors and international aid organizations. A period of hectic construction work ensued to provide for more houses and classrooms for children. The Nursery slowly took the shape of a small village with its own school and homes. In 1971, TCV took over the small nursery in Patlikuhl and expanded it into a residential school. In 1972, it was formally registered under the Societies Act as Tibetan Children’s Village, and it also became a full-fledged member of SOS Kinderdorf International.
During this time when TCV was successfully emerging out of the critical early stages, the plight of the Tibetan children in remote areas such as Ladakh remained very grave. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was deeply concerned by the abject poverty and total lack of educational opportunities for the Tibetan refugees in Ladakh. Following His guidance, TCV, for the first time in its history, expanded beyond its confines in Himachal Pradesh State. In 1975, TCV Ladakh was founded, followed by TCV Bylakuppe in 1980. Both of these became full-fledged SOS Villages with their own schools and residential facilities.
While TCV busied itself with the new responsibilities, the political situation in Tibet changed unexpectedly. China was forced to follow a lenient policy towards Tibet because of the international condemnation of its human rights record. Tibetans were allowed to visit their long-lost relations on both sides. This simultaneously provided new opportunities to parents to smuggle their children across the border to freedom. Thousand of children from Tibet flooded the main TCV at Dharamsala. To solve the overcrowding problem, TCV turned its poultry farm at Lower Dharamsala into a new residential school. Today, TCV School Lower Dharamsala is a high standard school with both primary and secondary school. It is entirely funded by Tibetan parents in exile.In spite of TCV’s best efforts, the problem of absorbing the unabated flood of new refugees became very serious. In 1990, TCV over the Youth School in Bir and expanded its scope. With more and more children coming from Tibet, overcrowding of all our Villages led us to start a new senior secondary school at Gopalpur .
In keeping with H. H. the Dalai Lama’s words on education that we should “counsel our children and encourage them to undergo specialised study in various fields,” a multi-trade vocational training center was established and started in 1999. The 1995 flood at TCV Patlikuhl compelled us to relocate the school to a new location. The construction was started at Chauntra near Bir and has now become functional. Another TCV School Selakui in Dehradun was constructed in 2004 and has been running successfully. This year in June 2007, TCV School Selakui observed its first ever Class X Graduation Function and 43 children appeared for it. They had an excellent results with 100% pass percentage.