Artist Rima Fujita helps teach Tibetan kids the facts of life.
Just like youth in the West, Tibetans are having sex at an increasingly early age. Never having received sex education in school, many of them are getting pregnant and contracting STDs. When the Tibetan government-in exile resolved to tackle this issue, they held a writing contest at Tibetan refugee schools, and three essays were selected to form the book that Fujita has volunteered to illustrate.
One story was written by a girl who was sexually molested by a close family friend, and it encourages other children in similar situations to tell someone they trust. The other two essays are about the changes in the body and mind that happen at puberty. In addition to the book, older children will receive a brochure explaining safe sex.
Very little children’s literature exists in Tibetan, but Rima Fujita is working to change that. In 2001, she founded a charitable organization called Books for Children, which she runs solo. She creates books that are relevant to Tibetan refugee children and finds publishers who are willing to produce bilingual editions in Tibetan and English, and sometimes Japanese. The publishers sell the books to the general public in North America and Japan, and then Fujita fundraises so that she can purchase copies and ship them to Tibetan refugee schools in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. To date, Books for Children has donated more than 12,000 books to Tibetan children.
One of Fujita’s books is about the perilous environmental situation of the Himalayas. Another is a true story about her root guru, the Dalai Lama. He rescued an old German Shepherd who was going to be killed and kept him in his garden, feeding and caring for him. Then one day a little, sick rabbit came to the garden. German Shepherds usually kill small creatures, but this German Shepherd took care of the rabbit.
“The point,” says Fujita, “is that compassion is contagious. When somebody’s nice to you, you want to be nice to somebody else.”
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