** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.
** Interview Summary: At the age of 10, Lama Kunga Thartse was recognized as a reincarnation of a previous lama. He was taken to Thargye Dupdhe Monastery in Shang village to study and later moved to Ngor Monastery near Shigatse. He was born to an aristocratic family and his father, Mr. Shuguba, served the Tibetan government in various capacities, including the Minister of Finance. Lama Kunga Thartse nostalgically recalls his family estate where they used to grow barley, vegetables and flowers. The estate was later covered in concrete when the Chinese constructed a hydraulic energy station there. Ironically, his village had no electricity even after this transformation. Lama Kunga Thartse's father was arrested in 1959 after the collapse of the central Tibetan government and he and his brother escaped to Nepal. When his father was released from prison in 1980, Lama Kunga Thartse visited Tibet and was reunited with his father after a period of 20 years. During his visit to Tibet, he was very touched by the difficult, poverty-stricken condition of the Tibetan people. Some pleaded with him, "Please do something. Help me." Lama Kunga arrived in the USA in 1962 and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He established the Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center offering meditations and classes in Buddhism.