The Dalai Lama comes to Derry

Volunteering through Children of Crossfire I was able to see the Dalai Lama up close and personal when he made his way to Derry!  Children of Crossfire is an international organization that works in promoting early childhood care and development that addresses the needs of young people in the following areas: The United Republic of Tanzania, The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and The Republic of the Gambia.

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You may ask why is The Dalia Lama visiting Derry? I think it’s best explained through the words of Children of Crossfire:

 “The Dalia Lama’s hero” ; the documentary chronicled the remarkable story about forgiveness of Richard Moore – the man the Dalai Lama calls ‘my hero’ – has forged an extraordinary bond of friendship with the British soldier who shot him. This powerful and poignant documentary follows them as they travel to India for a personal meeting with the Dalai Lama ( Patron of Children in Crossfire) and charts their journey to forgiveness and friendship.

 During the visit Richard Moore on behalf of Children in Crossfire, asked His Holiness to become patron of the charity that he founded in 1996. His holiness said ‘it would be an honour’. His Holiness told Richard Moore “The example you have set is of benefit in personal and international relations. This is non-violence in action”.

At the invite of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Richard Moore went to visit him on Wednesday 5th May 2010 where he has lived in exile for the last 50 years in Dharamsala. Richard and His Holiness spoke to a packed venue of over 2500 Tibetan children yesterday  as the Tibetan spiritual leader said that future generations would draw inspiration from Moore’s spirit of forgiveness and compassion: “It is my hope that the spirit of forgiveness and compassion you have revealed can be passed on from generation to generation,” as the Dalai Lama introduced Richard he said, “He has an indomitable spirit, he is a real practitioner of compassion, and a living example of peace, he is my hero”.

Richard said ” This has been a wonderful experience and the Tibetan people are among the most peaceful and compassionate in the world’.

Richard was accompanied by Charles, the British soldier who had shot him on May 4 1972. Richard said he had no bitterness or anger against Charles whom he met in 2006 and befriended him. “I have learned to see life in a different way”, is how he describes his remarkable acceptance of what, for most, would be a debilitating trauma. “You can take away my sight, but you can not take away my vision which is to help impoverished children all over the world.” The story of Children in Crossfire has its roots in what began as a tragedy and ended as a triumph of the human spirit to overcome adversity. Working in Africa, Asia and South America Children in Crossfire has become an international organisation working to protect and promote the rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had personally initiated today’s gathering as he thought “it would be a wonderful opportunity for the Tibetan children to interact with the man whom he looks up to as a hero and inspiration.”

“Many of us would be mad in anger and animosity at the person who blinded us, even I might get bitter against the man but Richard has not had a tint of bitterness against Charles, which is very difficult especially as a child with no formal training in religious philosophies. That touched me deeply,” said the 1989 Nobel peace laureate, adding that people like Richard are truly deserving of Nobel peace prize.

The only regret that Richard had after he was blinded was that he would never see his mother and father again, said the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness honoured Richard with a Khata (traditional well-wishing scarf) and a citation which the Tibetan leader read himself to the audience that comprised mainly of children from 5 schools. Richard became one of the very few people in the world to receive citation of honour from the Dalai Lama himself.

Before leaving the stage, the Dalai Lama removed his glasses, held Richard’s hand and gently caressed on his own face and said, “Since he can’t see my face this is how I say goodbye to him,” before bursting into his childlike laughter. Richard later interacted with the Tibetan children who expressed joy in meeting him and asked questions about Richard’s experiences. “

Through Children of Crossfire and the City of Culture, we wanted to get school children (from both Catholic and Protestant Schools) around Derry involved in the visiting of the Dalai Lama as much as possible.  Thus, the day of, approximately 300 children from schools all around Derry gathered around the Peace Bridge holding handmade flags promoting peace and singing–as the Dalai Lama walked through.

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It was quite the sight to see, until…like typically Northern Ireland weather ..it started down pouring.  I have never seen security guards grab someone so quick. The scene was almost like out of a movie-it started to downpour and within an instant, security guards grabbed the Dalai Lama and threw him into a white van. Luckily for us, he made his way safely to the Waterside where he gave his heart warming speech.

See expert of his speech here.

“There is no other choice – you have to work and live together so we should not
act like animals. So therefore, now there is no other way. You must fight, you must struggle. This century should be a century of peace. In order to create century of peace, peace does not mean there are no longer any problems. The problems remain. The creation of a peaceful world means when we face problems, try to solve that problem through dialogue, through talk.

-Dalai Lama

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