What's New? July 2015
In this issue: *Shifting into High Gear: Arrivals update, Settling in, Jobs *Mentoring *Fundraising: We're still at it! *TRPO Board comings and goings *Entrepreneurial spirit *The challenge for newcomers *Ottawa Tibetan Community Association *The national picture *A closing thought
Shifting into high gear
Report from the Chair
Arrivals update – numbers and dates
Our goal, as you know, is to bring 90 stateless Tibetans from northeast India to Ottawa. We are about one-third of the way through the process, and the pace of arrivals is picking up speed.
- Arrivals to date: 36 Tibetan newcomers were sponsored in our first year and a half (November 2013 to May 2015). Of these, 31 are settled in Ottawa, while 5 are in other cities as a result of job opportunities.
- Upcoming arrivals: 13 people land on July 16 at 5:13 pm, including our youngest to date (8 months old). Join us at the airport for a rousing welcome!
- 10 people land on September 10 at 6:13 pm. The total of arrivals will then be 2/3 of the 90 we are to receive.
- Waiting for final clearance: 12 people have been interviewed, and are expected to be approved for travel shortly.
- Yet to be interviewed: another 19 people are still waiting to be fully sponsored and interviewed - we are still raising funds for this group, see below. All must be cleared for travel by March 2016, the date the program concludes.
Settling in – with help from previous arrivals
More and more help for new arrivals is being provided by the earlier arrivals themselves. Seven of the upcoming arrivals will be living in the apartments of Tibetans who arrived earlier in the project, and will not have to contribute to rent until they find work. TRPO will subsidize the rental of two new apartments for arrivals in July and September. We are keeping other housing “hosts” as backup as the pace of arrivals picks up.
The in-kind donations team has been very active, finding beds, houseware, and a new category of necessity: child car seats. More and more, the team is working with settlement organizations for other groups such as aboriginal and refugee women, trading items useful to each group. Supplies are being stored in several garages around town.
Jobs still needed
The search for jobs continues – using every contact and network any of us can think of. We are also contacting employment agencies. Our parent organization, Project Tibet Society, continues to provide links where it can.
And our search for a coordinator for our efforts to find jobs for the newcomers also continues.
Mentoring – a short-term role with long-term rewards
We are seeking a few more volunteers interested in mentoring an individual or a family. Mentors play an essential role in helping Tibetan newcomers get established in Canada. It is a rewarding experience that provides an opportunity to develop unique friendships and learn more about the Tibetan people and culture.
Mentoring is a three-month commitment that includes meeting newcomers at the airport, accompanying them to their initial medical tests, helping them to make connections in the community, and directing them to support services in Ottawa. Mentors can work on their own or as part of a group of several mentors who provide different kinds of support.
A highly successful orientation session for new mentors was held on June 10, 2015 at the Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI). It was attended by 16 people including many of the TRPO board, Tibetan newcomers, experienced and new mentors, six of whom will be working with the July 2015 arrivals. The new mentors learned about what mentors do, how mentoring teams work, and the roles TRPO and CCI play in the resettlement process. The Tibetans who arrived over the last year and half spoke about how the mentorship process worked for them and its importance. It was a very helpful session with lots of questions and great discussion.
If you would like to speak to someone about becoming Mentor, please contact our new Mentor Lead, Paul Bennett (613-237-1559 or email@example.com).
Fundraising: we’re still at it!
The generosity of many donors has enabled us to settle over a third of the 90 Tibetans we committed to assist and to sponsor another 35. Our heartfelt thanks go to a great variety of Ottawa donors! Of special note are donations from the newcomers themselves as well as the Ottawa Tibet Film Festival:
- The 31 Tibetans who have settled in Ottawa under the project have donated a remarkable $7,000! (Here Dawa Norbu and Tsering Dolkar hand the donation to Cornelius von Baeyer and Jack Gilmer.)
- Tibetan newcomers in Toronto from the same Tibetan settlement in Miao, India as the Ottawa newcomers, have provided some $2,000 through their Pemakoe Welfare Association.
- The 2015 Ottawa Tibet Film Festival donated $1,550. (Here Jurme Wangda presents the cheque to Cornelius.)
Our current fundraising goal is $22,000 and is focused on two areas of need:
- $10,000 to sponsor the final group of 19 Tibetans
This is our most important financial need and we are still $10,000 short of the $35,000 we need to bring the last group of Tibetans to Ottawa. (The $10,000 includes repayment of an interest-free bridging loan we have been offered to help us complete the sponsorships in time.)
- $12,000 to rent apartments
A secondary goal is to have sufficient funds to provide accommodation when a large number of Tibetans arrive at the same time. The apartments would house them for the first three months, while they look for work. Any funds not used for this purpose will be used to support additional education for the newcomers.
If any of you reading our newsletter have an idea for a fundraiser and could lead the effort, we’d be delighted to hear from you! And if you can make a donation, it’s easily done online and you will receive a tax receipt. Go to CanadaHelps, enter your "Donation Amount," and then “select to apply your donation” to Tibetan Resettlement Project Ottawa (TRPO) (which is last on the pull-down menu). You can also donate by cheque, if you prefer.
TRPO Board comings and goings
Our board has had major turnovers since its inception, due to directors moving away or being swamped by work and family obligations. We are very grateful to those who helped while they could, and also very grateful to those who step into their shoes. We have a new Treasurer (at last!) – Jack Gilmer. And we have a new Lead for Mentoring – Paul Bennett. Welcome!
Dawa Norbu, who arrived in December 2013, armed with an MBA and a diploma in international business, had his first business up and running – selling momos and catering – by the following summer. That business, Himalayan Dumplings, is still going on Saturdays at Beechwood Market! Now he has opened another business, Green Dry Cleaners. In addition to eco-friendly dry cleaning, you can have your clothes altered and your shoes repaired. And they even pick up and deliver! Support this new enterprise if you can. You can find them at 117 Centrepoint Drive, call them at 613-699-2118, and check them out on the net at www.greendrycleaners.co.
The challenge for newcomers, as seen by the chair
Much has been accomplished by both volunteers and Tibetan newcomers. For myself as chair, I am finding it very fulfilling to work with this project. Clearly, as the project grows, even more will be asked of the Tibetans who have arrived to date since they know well what it takes to support a newcomer. We are deeply grateful that they are willing to take on an expanded role in helping to settle the Tibetans yet to come.
Ottawa Tibetan Community AssociationOTCA is happy to introduce its new board. (Note that 1/2 the new board consists of newcomers under TRPO.)
President: Jurme Wangda and Tenzin Wangdak Vice-president: Dawa Norbu Secretary: Dolma Dongtotsang and Tenzin Namgyal Media Rep: Samphe Lhalungpa Treasurer: Tsering Tsamchoe and Dawa Ghoso Community coordinators : Pema Namgyal, Gyaltsok, Lhakpa Tsering, Floriane Tsering and Tsechu Lhamo
Board activities include support for TRPO, as well as events such as a spring picnic to welcome the Tibetans interning on Parliament Hill, and a celebration to mark the Dalai-Lama’s 80th birthday on Sunday, July 5th from noon to 5 p.m. at Britannia Park, near the beach. Please join us! Bring your own plate and fork and a contribution to the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre’s food bank. See details here.
The national picture
A frequent question we're asked is “How are the other cities doing?” Project Tibet Society, our parent organization, reports that by end of July 2015, Calgary will have settled an amazing 186 Tibetans, Toronto 136, Vancouver 47, Victoria 20 and the Sunshine Coast 15, compared to 49 for Ottawa. This represents 453 of the 1,000 total to be settled.
The main source of the newcomers in Ottawa and Toronto is the settlement in Miao, from which 149 people have arrived so far. Other sources are the settlements in Tezu, Tuting and Tenzingang, all in Arunachal Pradesh.
A closing thought
On hearing about the significant contribution the Tibetan newcomers are making, TRPO’s founder, Norman Steinberg, had this to say from Dharamsala:
“This desire to help others which you describe, and the first arrivals dedicating themselves to help others, is the manifestation in action of the foundational value of Tibetan culture.
You see it in the motto prominently displayed everywhere in all the Tibetan schools and the Tibet Children's Villages. It reads "Others before self." It is one of the reasons I have dedicated the rest of my life to support the noble Tibetan cause.
The principle is found in Buddhism in the Mahayana form. In it, our motivation to achieve enlightenment is to help remove all other suffering. By taking the Bodhisattva vow we promise not to achieve enlightenment until all other beings are first enlightened.
The Mahayana prayer starts with: ‘May all beings be happy and have the causes of happiness’ and this is not some abstract idea. The idea of putting others before self is evident everywhere in Dharamsala and elsewhere where Tibetans are congregated.”