A Generation in Peril: The Lives of Tibetan Children Under Chinese Rule
V. Journeys Into Exile

I always asked my mother where I could go for a bright future. She asked if I knew about India. [W]e talked about His Holiness the Dalai Lama. My mother told me to think about it. I took three days off from school to decide. I went to Norbulingka by myself and prayed, and the decision came to me to go. -Fifteen years old

We mostly walked in the night time [because] we were afraid of spies in the villages. . . . There was a big wind, moving the snow all over. Our hair and eyebrows froze. . . . [A] young Khampa carried my younger sister [five years old] on his back. My younger brother [seven years old] could walk on his own. . . . We slept in the snow, with the children and nuns in the middle. In the middle of the night, one of the nuns started screaming . . . . [S]he had fallen into an ice stream . . . . I saw her dead body: her arms were all frozen, her teeth, lips, the inside of her mouth, were all frozen. -Fourteen years old

Hundreds of Tibetan children seek to flee the PRC each year for exile communities in India and Nepal. They pay thousands of yuan - typically several years of family savings - to guides, or in bribes coerced by Chinese officials and Nepalese border police. They jeopardize their lives and health on perilous journeys through the Himalayas, and they risk imprisonment, torture and retaliation against family members should they be caught. Many apprehended and punished (often detained and tortured) on their first attempt nonetheless try again multiple times. We interviewed several who had made two or three attempts before they managed to reach the Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal. From there, most make their way by bus to Tibetan exile settlements in India. Based on our interviews, we formed a general picture of the perils that Tibetan children face on their journeys into exile. To appreciate these dangers provides some idea of the intensity of conviction that lies behind the decision of so many Tibetan children - and their parents - to run the risks of the journey rather than to live out their childhoods in Tibet.

A. Reasons for Traveling into Exile -->