Tong-Len celebrated its 13th Anniversary and Thanks Day on the 19th November, this being the date on which the first purpose-built hostels were opened by His Holiness The Dalai Lama in 2011. This was a very happy occasion, attended by almost 500 people including guests from India and overseas, as well as a large number of the families of the hostel children.
The chief guest was Mr Tilak Raj Acharya, District Project Officer of the Kangra District for the Ministry of Child and Women Welfare. Amongst other guests were the Sub District Magistrate of Dharamsala, Brigid Whoriskey (Trustee of Tong-Len UK) and Annie Benard (Director of Tong-Len Europe). Both the government officials gave words of encouragement for Tong-Len and congratulated the charity for all the good work that it has been doing. They also made a commitment to extend all possible help to Tong-Len in the future.
Since the tenth anniversary in 2014, it has been the custom to present Tong-Len awards to individuals or organisations who have made a significant contribution to society and share Tong-Len’s vision of ‘compassion in action’. There were three awards, introduced by Brigid Whoriskey. The first award was presented to Ms Anuradha Sharma of the Surya Uday Charitable Trust, who came along with 20 Special Needs Children and her dedicated staff. The second awardee was Waste Warriors which promotes waste management through encouraging due respect for waste collectors and rag pickers in the mainstream workforce of the country. Navita was delighted to receive the final award honouring her unstinting service to the charity from the very beginning. Navita ran Tong-Len’s hostel in the rented accommodation in Dharamsala before taking over the responsibility of hostel manager when the purpose-built hostels were completed in 2011, the role that she holds to this day.
In her thank you speech Annie Benard expressed on behalf of Tong-Len Charitable Trust all those that had supported its work during the past year, including all the children’s sponsors as well as that given by Tong-Len UK, Tong-Len Europe, The Dalai Lama Trust, the Fontana Foundation and the Delek Hospital.
The students gave some incredible performances and gathered lots of praises from all the guests. Ranging from small skits to dances of various cultures, the children had put in a lot of hard work and it shone through in their performances. The celebration concluded with a delicious lunch prepared in the hostel kitchens with assistance from a number of the students. It was wonderful to see hundreds from the children’s communities sharing the Tong-Len family meal.