The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of York have initiated programs to empower young Tibetans, in exile as well as in Tibet. While five Tibetans in India have been selected for entrepreneurial assistance by an organization initiated by Prince Charles, The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, has been providing education and health facility to Tibetans in Eastern Tibet through her organization Children in Crisis.

The five young Tibetans, Lobsang Wangyal, a freelancer and an event manager; Tenzin Choedak, a creative artist; Kalden Dorjee, a designer; Dicky Dolma, a beautician; and Norsang Lateng, a software professional, have been selected by Youth Opportunity Trust Asia (YOTA) to act as “Blue Prints” and had a meeting with Prince Charles in New Delhi on October 28, 2003. YOTA is affiliated to and modeled on Youth Business International (YBI), the international arm of the Prince’s Trust, a charity set up by Prince Charles.

YOTA’s aims are to expand on this success in Asia and “focus on helping displaced and disadvantaged youth including Tibetans living in remote, economically and environmentally challenging conditions in high-altitude Himalayan areas in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Mongolia.”

As part of its preparation for the Tibetan empowerment program, YOTA Executive Director Linda Cruse visited the Tibetan community in south India along with Aruna Vinodh Kumar of the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST), its program partner in India. During the trip they outlined the objectives behind the Tibetan program. Kumar told the media in Mysore, Karnataka, that many Tibetan youth in the Tibetan settlements were well educated but needed assistance to start small ventures of their own. Cruse said Prince Charles was interested in launching a program for the benefit of these Tibetan young men and women in India and thus a joint program to promote entrepreneurship and job opportunities was being considered.

Following are information on the five Tibetans, as released by YOTA.

Tenzin Choedak: Born in India in 1975, Mr. Choedak’s father came originally from Amdo and mother from U-stang, Tibet. He has an MA in Buddhist Studies. He is a branding artist who has the ability to take a concept and make it into a memorable visual statement. He has already produced work that has been presented to H.R.H.

Kalden Dorjee: Born in India in 1973, Mr. Dorjee’s parents are from Chamdo, Tibet. He has a B.Com degree and has studied fashion technology and export management for two years. Kalden is a fashion designer and aspiring exporter. He has worked for a US company, Tibet Collection and has recently gained a contract in Malaysia.

Tenzin Norsang Lateng: Born in India in 1977, Mr. Lateng’s parents are from U-tsang Tibet. He has a diploma in network centered computing and practical experience as a programmer in an Indian start-up company. Norsang started his own Internet website for Tibetan news in June 2001 ( particularly aimed at young Tibetans. It features a public message forum for people to discuss current Tibetan issues; the site has 1600 daily readers.

Dicky Dolma: Born in India in 1981, Ms Dolma’s parents are from Darjeeling, India. Dicky has obtained a Women’s World International Diploma from the Shahnaz Husain Institute of Beauty Culture, Delhi. She has studied hair and beauty treatments.

Lobsang Wangyal: Born in India in 1970, Mr Wangyal’s father is from Kham, Tibet. Qualified with a BA, Mr. Wangyal is an event organizer, freelance journalist and photographer. Through his Free Spirit Show and Lobsang Wangyal Productions he founded the Miss Tibet Awards in 2002 and the Tibetan Music Awards in 2003.

The Duchess of York, on the other hand, has been working to improve the situation of young Tibetans inside Tibet. Her organization, Children in Crisis, is running health and education programs in Dritoe (Ch: Zhiduo) in present-day Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai. Education and health care are being provided to the children of Tibetan nomads living in the region, including a boarding school started in 1998.

She has also visited the Tibetan community in India and expressed interest in assisting Tibetan refugees. “What brings me here is my keen interest to know more about the conditions of refugees from Tibet and ascertain how we can help them,” Ferguson told the New Delhi daily, Hindustan Times, in November 2000.

“It is the Tibetan cause I am concerned about. All I can do is bring the plight of Tibetan women and child refugees before the public. I would be more like a wire which connects the points,” Ferguson added.