Eight years ago, Lobsang Phuntsok, a Buddhist monk hand-picked by the Dalai Lama to spread Tibetan Buddhism in the West, felt a calling to return to his homeland and rescue children from suffering. This led him to establish Jhamtse Gatsal, translating to ‘The Garden of Love and Compassion,’ nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. This unique community serves as a permanent refuge for 85 orphaned or abandoned children, all learning the values of compassion.

Drawing from his own difficult childhood, Lobsang saw an opportunity to provide these children with the family he never had. He became a father figure to the children, offering them guidance and support in their journey towards healing.

However, the community faces challenges as it operates beyond its capacity. Lobsang grapples with the heartbreaking task of deciding whether to accept new children into the fold, knowing that each decision carries significant consequences. The film highlights the real-life impacts of these choices, including the tragic suicide of a local boy who was denied entry into the community.

Amidst these challenges, the documentary also follows the story of Tashi Drolma, one of Jhamtse’s newest arrivals. A wild and troubled five-year-old, Tashi struggles initially to find her place among her new siblings. But with the guidance of Lobsang and the supportive community, she undergoes a remarkable transformation, finding friendship and belonging.

Jhamtse Gatsal stands as a beacon of warmth and support in a region marked by poverty and adversity. Unlike traditional institutions, where children may be heavily medicated and managed by professionals, Jhamtse fosters a sense of community where children are empowered to participate in their own healing journey. The results are nothing short of remarkable.

In a region where opportunities are scarce, the children of Jhamtse Gatsal are given the chance to thrive and become “amazing human beings,” as envisioned by Lobsang. Through his tireless dedication and the support of the community, they find hope and a brighter future amidst adversity.

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