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"...a lovely reminder that while there is a lot of darkness in the world, there are also beautiful shining points of light."
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Lobsang and Tashi
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A Film ByAndrew HintonJohnny BurkeDanielle LurieGabriella PutnokiChris HallPaul JonesDan WeinbergMessage to BearsKlara KjellenTenzin YangkyiSpencer BabcockGombu LhamuAnita KumariHeatherLB
With Thanks ToLobsang PhuntsokTashi DrolmaRaju KumarTenzin Drolma 'A'Jhamtse Gatsal Children's Community
HBO DocumentariesCBA WorldviewCatapult Film FundVimeoPilgrim FilmsTelluride Mountainfilm FestivalBanff Mountain Film Festival

Watch and Listen

Official Trailer
Download a Copy of the Film
Watch Now on Amazon
Educational and Community Screenings
Watch Now in Japan
Purchase the DVD
Download the Soundtrack
Lobsang: Amazing Human Beings
The Journey So Far
Clip: Fun Times at Jhamtse Gatsal
Clip: A Day Without Laughter

The Story

Short VersionLong Version

On a remote mountaintop a brave social experiment is taking place.

Buddhist Monk Lobsang was trained under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama but 8 years ago he left behind a life as a spiritual teacher in the United States to create a unique community in the foothills of the Himalayas which rescues orphaned and neglected children.

5 year-old Tashi is the newest arrival. Her mother recently passed away and she’s been abandoned by her alcoholic father. Wild and troubled, Tashi is struggling to find her place amongst 84 new siblings.

Lobsang has channeled his own unhappy childhood into an opportunity for other ‘uninvited guests of the universe’ to avoid a similar fate. But Can the community’s love and compassion transform Tashi’s alienation and tantrums into a capacity to make her first real friend?

Eight years ago Buddhist monk Lobsang Phuntsok, hand-picked by the Dalai Lama to share Tibetan Buddhism with the West, felt called to leave a life as a spiritual teacher in the US and return to the region of his birth to try and rescue children from suffering. Since then he has created a unique community in the foothills of the Himalayas called Jhamtse Gatsal (Tibetan for ‘The Garden of Love and Compassion'), which provides a permanent home for 85 orphaned or abandoned children all learning to live compassionately.

Lobsang has channeled his own unhappy childhood into an opportunity for these ‘uninvited guests of the universe’ to avoid a similar fate. Driven by a longing to experience being part of a family, he has become for the children at Jhamtse Gatsal something he never had – a father.

Perched on a remote mountaintop and surrounded by poverty, today the community is stretched beyond capacity and Lobsang faces the heartbreaking task of weighing the requests he receives for new kids to join. During the film he is confronted by the very real consequences of his decisions: a local eleven-year-old boy who he turned down two years ago for a place in the community commits suicide. In a nearby village another young boy’s father dies suddenly and his family, unable to cope, plead with Lobsang to take him in. Within the community he is challenged by concerns from staff that any further expansion will compromise their ability to help the kids they already have.

Alongside Lobsang’s work, the film tells the story of Tashi Drolma, Jhamtse’s newest arrival who recently lost her mother and was abandoned by her alcoholic father. A wild and troubled five-year-old, Tashi Drolma is a big personality in a small body. Despite (or because of) her challenging temperament, she is thrillingly alive.

Tashi struggles initially to find her place amongst 84 new siblings. Gradually, as Lobsang and the community work their magic, we witness her transformation from alienation and tantrums into someone capable of making her first real friend.

The atmosphere of warmth and support at Jhamtse Gatsal provides a backdrop to the unfolding stories. Full of children who elsewhere might be classified as ‘at risk’ after experiencing often unimaginable trauma in their short lives, this is the kind of institution that in the West would be staffed by psychologists and social workers relying on an arsenal of medication to keep their charges under control. Here the staff have no formal training and children are simply invited to become active members of a community and participants in their own and each other’s healing. The results are remarkable.

In a region where the only prospects are a life in the fields or breaking rocks beside the road, the lucky few at Jhamtse are given a shot at something much greater – the chance to become, in Lobsang’s words, “amazing human beings.”

Dig deeper: An Interview with Lobsang

The People

(click on a name to know more)

Lobsang Phuntsok Tashi Drolma Jhamtse Gatsal Andrew Hinton Johnny Burke Dan Weinberg Jerome Alexander HeatherLB Sam & Lee


Tashi and the Monk Award Laurels
View Awards as a List

Connect With Us

Get Involved

It has been really inspiring to see how many people have responded to Lobsang and his work (and the remarkable kids at Jhamtse).
One of the questions that often comes up after people watch the film is “How can I get involved? How can I help?”.
When we finished filming Johnny and I knew we wanted to stay in touch with both the community and with Tashi so we signed up to sponsor her which basically means we make a contribution each year towards her schooling and living expenses (and will do so until she graduates). If you are interested in doing something similar you can find out more here.
Some people have been moved to donate. If you would like to contribute financially to the community (all money goes directly to fund the work) you can do so here.
We’ve also been really delighted by the way some people have volunteered (either in the US or at the community) since seeing the film. You can find out more about visiting/volunteering here.
Finally, if you think we should make more films like this do send words of encouragement and/or offers of financial support here, please get in touch!
Thanks for your interest in helping support the amazing experiment in compassion that is Jhamtse Gatsal!
Andrew Hinton and Johnny Burke

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