In 1952, at the age of six, I entered a Buddhist monastery in Tibet. It was in 1959, when the Chinese Red Army invaded\liberated Tibet, that I was sent with one of my uncles to escape over the Himalayan mountains to India. Thanks to the Danish Tibet Committee, headed by Prince Peter and Mr. Fenneberg, I had the opportunity to study in Denmark and later was offered a scholarship to study in Tehran, Iran at the Polytechnical Institute.
After receiving my diploma, I was one of the first Tibetan technicians, educated in the west, and had the opportunity to serve in a Tibetan refugee settlement in southern India. It was there I married a Tibetan woman, whom I had earlier met in Denmark. We had three children, although two of them were taken away from us due to smallpox and meningitis. Our surviving daughter now lives in Boston. In 1971 I returned to Denmark and from there traveled to Sweden, where I worked at a Buddhist center for 17 years, remarried and had a son. My third and last marriage to Anne-Sofie took place in Lhasa in 1998. She became my wife and trustworthy life long friend.
It was in 1988 however, when I decided to create something concrete in hopes of benefiting the Tibetan people. That year I had the opportunity to return to Tibet for the first time in 29 years to see my father. It was then that I learned that my dear mother had been tortured and killed by the Red Guards. In 1993, after five years of negotiations with the local government, I was able to start the first humanitarian aid project in Tibet. The first project was to build a school in my home village of Katsel. After its completion, I have been back to Tibet many times, and in 2006 we celebrated the completion of our goal – to build 108 schools and 108 libraries. Currently our schools consist of over 13,000 children, all who depend on our help.
If we really want to, we can all develop for the better – as it is not only something that monks and nuns have the opportunity to do. I learned that it is our own doubt that is our biggest enemy. It was only when I stopped having doubts, that schools were built and our goal was achieved.