In Tibet it is quite common for the monks to engage in handicraft skills such as sewing and tailoring. Lobsang Dawa, one of the elder monks in Chokri, has always been very well known for his outstanding talent for sewing. His talents stretch from Tibetan Ritual Decorating Fabric to beautiful Traditional Tibetan Tent stitching technique.
The idea was raised whether he would be willing to pass on his knowledge and talent to the younger generation of Chokri. Lobsang Dawa was more than happy accept this role of teaching handicraft skills to young people and immediately organized a meeting with the 14 representatives of the various districts of the region of Chokri to brief this fruitful idea. The reaction of all the 14 members of the committee about the idea of opening a Tailoring school under the management of monk Lobsang Dawa was highly welcomed and each of the representatives was happy to select the candidates from their districts. The school wanted to give preferences to the young people who came from poor families and who were very committed to do the training with the goal that each student could then use the handicraft skills learnt at the Tailoring School to become independent and self-sustainable.
Within a few days 13 young people signed up and were ready to start the training with Lobsang Dawa as the first batch.
Meanwhile Dechen and her husband travelled to Chengdu with Lobsang Dawa to organize the material such as sewing machines, scissors, meters, threads, irons, fabrics and all the materials it takes to start to run a small tailoring school.
Dechen and Dr. Shak returned to Switzerland, while Lobsang Dawa set up the tailoring school in the big living room of the residence of Dagsay Rinpoche at the monastery of Chokri. Dechen had asked Lobsang Dawa to produce a few items such as different kinds of little bags that she felt would be ideal to sell to her western friends and fans back in Switzerland. Already after less than three months Dechen received a big parcel from Chokri with the first set of products produced at the Chokri Tailoring School by the 13 young tailoring students.
Meanwhile 90 young people have gone through the training of Lobsang Dawa and over 40 of them have started their own little business owning a little tailoring store. They have learned how to produce traditional Tibetan clothes, religious decorations being used in the monasteries, monks and nuns robes, little and big handbags etc.
Dechen and her family are pleased to see that they have been able to help these young people to sustain themselves and their families by giving them a chance for this vocational training. Not only does this make each one of them proud and happy, but they are keeping an important part of the Tibetan culture alive by preserving the skills of the Tibetan sewing art.