Michael Blakey, a 23-year-old British volunteer, had helped set up the Tong Len Charitable Trust in Dharamsala four years ago. Today, the Trust is going to play its part in setting up a home for destitute children — in Michael’s memory.
Michael had been murdered in November 2006. The body was found in a gorge near St Johns’ Church, close to McLeodganj.
His parents, Paul and Mary, have raised £22,000 with the help of charity workers for the centre. The funds raised by the Blakeys in the UK will be transferred to the Tong Len Trust.
Office bearers of the trust say Michael, a graduate in Development Studies from the University of Wales, wanted to buy land in the hill town to establish a hostel for the children of slumdwellers.
“Michael’s last dream, which the whole Tong Len family shares, was to buy land to build bigger and better hostel accommodation,” Tibetan monk Jamyang, 33, coordinator and founder of the Trust told HT. “I met Michael’s parents in their native town two years ago when I accompanied his (Michael’s) body. That was the time when they expressed their desire to set up centre in the memory of their son.”
The Trust had set an initial target of £20,000 to buy the land, but now it has planned to collect an additional £50,000. It now proposes to set up a Michael Blakey Centre. Through the center, the trust proposes to initiate various activities for the welfare of destitute children as planned by Michael.
According to the plans, the centre will start a health programme for slumdwellers, apart from organizing training workshops.
“Michael’s parents say the centre will not only help many destitute children and their families, but also will inspire others to follow his example,” said Jamyang.
Michael had helped establish the Tong Len Trust in December 2004 and was even one of its founder members. He was especially involved in the research and development side of the work, and focused on education, health and community-based projects.