Origin of FMVSO
In September 2005, a small group from UK travelled to the ‘Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains’ – the state of Arunachal Pradesh in the Himalayas of North-East India, east of Bhutan and north of Assam. The region had been closed to tourism until the previous year due to a boundary dispute between China and India over ownership of the region.
The visit was organised by a meditation teacher (John Crook) and some of the group were his students, including David Brown. Others, including Diana Gallagher, had joined the expedition to learn more of the people and cultures of the high Himalayas. The group was led by James Crowden, an author from Somerset (and also a student of John Crook) who has travelled widely in India. The focus of the visit was the Tawang monastery, a magnificent large training centre for monks. It was to Tawang monastery that the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after the Chinese army invaded Tibet.
The travellers witnessed first-hand the poverty and deprivation and the struggle for survival of the people of the region, principally of the Monpa tribe, who are more Tibetan than Indian in their culture and traditions.
By chance the travellers stumbled upon the Manjushree Vidyapith School and Orphanage. They were captivated by the people, the culture and the Tawang valley, and they were very impressed with Lama Thupten Phuntsok, the founder and principal. Deeply moved by what they witnessed at the Orphanage, the whole group decided they should do what they could to help, and pledged their support to Lama Thupten Phuntsok.
In February 2006, the charity ‘Friends of Manjushree Vidyapith School and Orphanage’ was founded and registered with the Charity Commission of UK. Since Di set up the charity in 2006, at least one Trustee has visited the orphanage every year. In 2007 Grainne Purkis (Ní Fhoighil) joined David and Di as Trustees and, more recently, Dr Michael Motskin has become a trustee. Many of the original group of travellers continue to give their support through FMVSO.
For many years FMVSO has been the backbone of support for Manjushree Vidyapith but recently we have been delighted to welcome the other supporters listed on the Our Supporters page. Magnificent progress has been made but much remains to do, especially towards upgrading education for the children.