Richard Beal was the winner of Explore’s 2010 Tour Leader Awards – here he tells us the charity he chose to donate his £500 prize money to and what it means to him.
I have long been looking for a charity to support in Tibet as with Explore I have always loved the way in which we put back into a local community when we are fortunate enough to take so many happy memories out of it. So when I found Dickey’s I was pleased and humbled to have the opportunity to help this project.
People are always surprised by the name – it’s actually a combination of two Tibetan words meaning ‘happiness’ and ‘fine’. The orphanage itself was set up in 2002 by a lady called Dhadon. Her story alone is great let alone the work she has now done with the orphanage.
Dhadon started to sell cigarettes and alcohol to the many frequent visitors to Lhasa at first starting on a small scale but as business progressed buying more stock and selling more, but then after a period of time she became aware of the street children consuming some of her products. She then felt was unacceptable so she put her money into running a tea house, being again lucky in business and getting a great location near to the great Jokhang temple. But still the issue of the street children bothered her, and she looked to her own son who was fortunate enough by this stage to have a successful mother and a good up bringing. She then decided she would try to offer some of the local orphans the same opportunity. So on the 10th of September 2002 she opened Dickey’s, at first only looking after four children, but she sold her jewellery and put most of the profits from the tea house into the orphanage securing a premises on the outskirts of Lhasa.
It has now grown through public donations into an orphanage which homes 72 children. On average most are around 9 yrs old the youngest being 9 months. 21 of these children were abandoned at birth with 4 handicapped. 34 are boys and the rest girls. They have a bank account opened in each of their names and have money put in place for when they are older. There are class rooms on site which are staffed by teachers from around China and abroad on a voluntary basis. Just recently they were very proud as 2 children achieved scholarship on a national level to enter universities in ChongQing. The Children being orphans have no known birth date so a common birthday is celebrated on the founding day the 10th of September.
I went to the orphanage to give them the money and before I got through the door I was met by a very emotional founder and her son. My words and feelings are a little difficult to put to paper but, for me, giving that money was one of the best feelings I have ever had - so thank you.
The founders asked me where we would like it spent. I said as long as it goes to some good for the children we are not too worried and they decided to buy some winter clothes for the children.
If anyone travelling to the region with Explore would like to donate to Dickey’s then food, shoes, clothes etc are always welcomed, especially in the winter when it is cold. But like all charities cash is paramount to the survival. I feel they have done so well to bring the orphanage to this level but need more.
The runners-up in the 2010 Tour Leader Awards also donated money to charities of their choice. Sudarshan KC chose the Helpless Children’s Protection Home in Kathmandu in order to help talented children continue with their studies; Vicky Sotriffer donated to CRAM, a marine charity concerned with the conservation of turtles and other marine life in the Mediterranean and Mohamed Atta chose Nour el Islam in Luxor, Egypt who help widows start their own businesses and provide for orphaned children.
To find out more about Dickey’s and how you can help visit their website.