Former Refugee Envisions Playing Fields for Youth


By Robin Pierson, Special to the Independent

A fundraiser to build a sports complex at a Tibetan refugee settlement in rural India will be held this Friday evening at Laguna Beach’s Neighborhood Congregational Church.

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Laguna visitors stopped at Tenpa Dorjee’s former home village in India. Photo by Tom Lamb.

Sharing Light, the second fundraiser for the Norgyeling Tibetan Settlement, will feature a concert by blues master John Heussenstamm and an authentic, home-cooked Indian dinner for a suggested $20 donation.

A sports complex was the dream of Lobsang Chomphel, 34, who died last year while playing soccer with the youth of Norgyeling. Lobsang hoped that a sports center would give the youth a positive outlet and help decrease use of street drugs, which has led to three overdoses in recent years.

“Lobsang was one of our drivers,” said Tenpa Dorjee, owner of Laguna Beach’s Tibet Handicrafts, who was born in the Norgyeling Settlement. Last year, he led a group from Laguna Beach to the village, delivering 600 solar lanterns.

“While we were driving, he asked me if I could raise money for a sports field,” Dorjee said. Funds raised will go towards construction of a new field, basketball courts and a shelter with indoor games, estimated to cost $10,000. “This is Lobsang’s dream,” Dorjee said.

Photo by Tom Lamb
Supporters hope to raise enough funds to makeover sports facilities at a refugee settlement in India. Photo by Tom Lamb.

A group from Laguna will return to the settlement this January, coinciding with a visit by the Dalai Lama, who intends to bless the ground breaking of the Lobsang Chomphel Memorial Sports Complex.

Friday’s activities at 340 Saint Ann’s Dr. will begin at 5:30 p.m. with appetizers, wine and the smooth jazz of Joe Baldino in the church courtyard. Heussenstamm and friends perform at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. A silent auction will close at 8:15 p.m.

For more info: call Tenpa Dorjee at 949.715.1043 or Pam Wicks at 949.573.7104.


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