The heartwarming story of one man’s vision of a safe haven for abandoned children is depicted in Tashi and the Monk.
On August 17, 2015, the internationally acclaimed and multi-awarded documentary Tashi and the Monk will premiere on HBO. The 2014 film directed by Andrew Hilton and Johnny Burke now boasts a long list of citations like the Best International Short Film Award of 2014.
The story revolves around the Tibetan monk Lobsang Phuntsok and his selfless efforts to create a new home and family for abandoned and orphaned children in his home village.
One of the best monks trained and picked by Dalai Lama himself, Lobsang was sent to the United States with the goal of sharing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Amidst the better life of being a spiritual teacher in the U.S., he instead chose to head back home to his remote and poor village to rescue suffering children.
He built the “Jhamtse Gatsal” community which literally means “The Garden of Love and Compassion” in Tibetan. It’s a community similar to an orphanage which serves as the permanent home for rescued children. During the time the documentary was made, Lobsang, together with his local staff, are caring for 85 orphaned or abandoned children.
Perhaps, the motivating factor for Lobsang is the absence of a family during his childhood. It is said that he also never had a father. He now acts as the father of what he calls “uninvited guests of the universe”.
Viewers of the documentary will witness how the monk is confronted with several problems like the dilemma that accepting more children may already risk the community’s resources. Lobsang explains: “We have more than a thousand requests so far that we received to take the kids into the community.” One of the boys he could no longer accommodate eventually committed suicide.
The documentary also features the actual transformation of Tashi Drolma. Tashi is a 5-year old girl and the newest child to be rescued by the monk after losing her mother and being abandoned by her father. She is a new challenge, not only for Lobsang, but for the whole family because of her challenging behavior.
But the world will eventually be surprised how a small community, an ordinary monk, and a staff or team who never had training when it comes to psychology or education transform Tashi into a good and friendly girl. As Lobsang notes, she’s certainly a small girl with a big personality.