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19june20091Dharamshala: The sun sets around 6:30, as the sun takes a parting glance before it disappears under the Himalayas. Sonam Lhamo sits on the steps of the small temple in Dharamshala, she was here well before sunrise and will remain here for another two hours. She said that the location of her momo stand is “not good,” ideally she would like to set up her stand at the bus stop or in front the main temple, but Sonam has only been selling momos in Dharamshala for one month and is therefore allocated to these steps. “I carry the momos here early in the morning and I sit here all day.”

Her booth looks like all the other momo booths in town, her receipt is the same, and her prices match the others. Sonam Lhamo said “I sell momos because I can’t find another job.” 

“The money I make is just enough to pay for my medicine and to pay my rent. I have a kid, and I only have one kidney. I go to the hospital weekly to get medicine, the doctor tells me that I need to go to southern India to have an operation, but I can’t afford that.”  She continued.

Sonam Lhamo arrived from Tibet 8 years ago “ When I first got here I went to Tibetan Transit School (TTS) to try to study but it didn’t work because I had never been to school before in Tibet, I didn’t know anything so I quit school.”

She did not quit school before she met her baby’s father who she called “a big cheat, ”she insisted that they are not married. She said “he told me he didn’t have a girlfriend and didn’t have a wife so I went with him and I got pregnant. After I gave birth his wife and his kids came from Tibet.”

Sonam said, Tibetan and international NGOs do not help her. The only help that she receives from the Tibetan Government is tuition free education for her child, a service provided to all in the Tibetan community. She gets up at midnight t to make momos 7 days a week, she doesn’t have the luxury to make plans with friends or plans for the future, she said “I am so poor, and my health is so poor that I am just trying to fix problems, I have no future plans for my daughter I only hope that TCV takes care of her.”

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