These are among the issues which are everyday reality for hundreds of Tibetans leaving occupied Tibet. Most of them end up, at least temporarily, in a small village in the Himalayan foothills called Dharamsala, where their exiled leader has lived for over 50 years.
Writer and photographer Tammy Winand spent 16 months between November 2009 and October 2011 living in the Himalayan regions of north India and Nepal, volunteering with various non-profits dedicated to improving life for the Tibetan exile communities there. Her first manuscript from this experience, EveryDay Exile, provides an intimate glimpse into a foreign culture few westerners ever have the opportunity to experience.
McleodGanj, also known as Upper Dharamsala, is a hill station in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, situated in the foothills of the Himalayan Dhauladhar Range. It became the capital of the Tibetan government in exile in 1960 and is the official residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet. An estimated 60,000 Tibetan exiles live in the immediate area. There are more than 20 official Tibetan exile settlements in India and Nepal, of which Ms. Winand has visited five.
During her first visit, Tammy's students, including several former political prisoners, monks and nuns, shared stories of survival and hopes for the future which moved her deeply. On her return to the United States, speaking to others about her experiences in the Tibetan community, the lack of general knowledge about these issues inspired her to create a project to make Tibetan voices heard.
Everyday Exile aims to present a first-hand narrative that anyone from school child to adult can learn and benefit from. It is not intended to be scholarly nor comprehensive. The book is aimed at those with little or no knowledge of Tibetan culture or history. It is the book the author wishes someone had handed to her when she first arrived in the Tibetan community.