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Dalai Lama’s sibling recognized for her dedication to educating Tibetans in exile — Radio Free Asia

Recognized for her lifelong commitment to educating Tibetan children in exile, Jetsun Pema, the younger sister of the Dalai Lama, was awarded the prestigious Pearl S. Buck Award by Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. The award includes a medallion and a cash prize of US$25,000.

Known as “Amala” or “Respected Mother” to Tibetans, Pema founded the Tibetan Children’s Villages (TCV), a successful educational institution caring for refugee and orphaned Tibetan children. She is the first Tibetan to receive this award, honoring women who embody the ideals of writer Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel Prize winner and advocate for women and children.

Pema, who also served as a minister for education in the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, dedicated over five decades to TCV, overseeing the education of more than 53,000 Tibetan children. After retiring, she continued her educational work, including projects at the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education in Bangalore.

During the award ceremony, Pema expressed her gratitude and announced that she would donate the prize money to TCV. She credited the collective efforts of many individuals, including her late sister, in advancing Tibetan children’s education.

Illustrious list of recipients

Past awardees of the Pearl S. Buck Award include notable figures like Mary Robinson, Sheikh Hasina, Corazon Aquino, Maya Lin, and Maxine Hong Kingston. Pema’s dedication to empowering Tibetan youth through education has garnered global recognition, including honors from UNESCO, the World’s Children’s Prize, and the Indian government’s Nari Shakti Puraskar award.

Pema’s legacy continues through the impact she has made on generations of Tibetan children, fulfilling the mandate given to her by the Dalai Lama to ensure quality education and care for Tibetan youth.


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